Making things talk | Enabling Tools

Written by
Fabian Gronbach
02 Mai 2014

Back in 2011 Intuity and Walter AG – market leader in producing tools for metal cutting and drilling – joined forces to develop a neat solution for quickly finding the best machining tools for a users‘ particular component. This piece of software – named Walter Guided Product Search (GPS) – requires a user to measure the wanted diameter of a borehole and alike, e.g. by using a caliper, and to manually enter the value into the GPS software.

The challenge

In a factory there is not always a computer close to the area where someone can measure the boreholes. We discovered that some of the workers wrote the values on their hands with a ball pen. On the one hand this is reasonable because the accuracy of the data is very important. On the other hand writing values on your skin shall not be a solution in a professional environment.

Our idea

Well, there are already calipers to buy, that you can easily connect to your computer. But mostly you have to install a driver or a software to use the caliper. Due to the fact that clients of the Walter AG are using very different types of computers – even very, very old ones – we had to find a simpler solution. A solution as simple as a keyboard! A keyboard you can simply just plug into your usb port and start typing right away.

To build a working prototype we decided to use an arduino leonardo. The leonardo has one smart feature: it can emulate a keyboard. After some research and tinkering we’ve got a stable connection between the caliper and the computer.

The result

To give the caliper a nice finishing, we encased the arduino board in an acrylic glass case with a nice lasered engraving. We also built a casing for the ’send data‘-button which was placed directly on the caliper itself.