Build OS-neutral, mobile interfaces for automation, monitoring, control applications

Opto 22 groov is a new system for building simple, effective web-based interfaces to monitor and control systems and equipment using computers and mobile devices. With only a Web browser, Opto 22 groov allows fast building and deployment of Web-based automation, monitoring, and control applications that work on most computers and mobile devices regardless of operating system. Optional app optimizes performance on mobile devices.


Opto 22 groov Build is the Web application’s mode for creating a groov project (the interface). Courtesy: Opto 22

“groov” is Opto 22’s new system for building simple, effective Web-based interfaces to monitor and control systems and equipment using computers and mobile devices. Using only a Web browser, groov allows fast design and deployment web-based automation, monitoring, and control applications that work on most computers and mobile devices regardless of operating system (OS). It allows mobile, visible, accessible, and simple screen development.

Opto 22 groov View for iOS is an optional iOS app for groov View. Screen made once automatically resize for any size screen such as Apple iPad, although objects can be moved around during development if needed. Courtesy: Opto 22Opto 22 calls groov a “human device interface” (HDI) instead of a human machine interface (HMI) because it takes the regular HMI in a different direction: towards the tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices that have become part of home and professional lives. Opto 22 developed groov with HMI best practices in mind, including those defined by the “High Performance HMI Handbook,” providing the tools to build high-performance, intelligible information and control screens. The new system is not intended to directly replace an HMI, but to augment HMI systems by making important information easily available on almost any mobile device or large, flat-screen HDTV, mounted high for monitoring key performance metrics (KPIs) or other parameters.

Opto 22 groov screens made once automatically resize for any size screen, such as Apple iPhone, although objects can be moved around during development if needed. Courtesy: Opto 22Totally new software

“This is unlike anything being offered,” Benson Hougland, Opto 22 vice president of marketing and product development, told CFE Media. All software is included, accessible via any browser, without plug-ins, without downloads, no per-user licenses, no tag limits, with nothing else to buy or install, Hougland explained.

“This make software as easy as possible to use; groove Build has pre-drawn touch-screen-enabled gadgets,” Hougland said. Screens are distributed via an HTTPS URL with secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption.

Prior attempts to mimic operator interface screens in a browser have been poor, Hougland explained, with limited scalability. This system uses HTML5 to scale graphics, buttons, labels, images, live video, trends – everything – to the screen size. The only software needed is a browser. On the development page for the software, another tab allows tweaking or reordering to optimize gadget location with screen shape, but scaling works fine, even without changes, as a demonstration showed.

“Application development can be done quickly and is fully scalable, from large-screen high-definition television to an iPod Touch in kiosk mode, operating as a light switch,” Hougland said. It eliminates programming, reprogramming, and server commissioning and deploys changes automatically.

App optimizes performance on smart phones and tablets

groov View apps for iOS and Android control how groov browser-based operator interfaces are displayed on smartphones, tablets, and other devices. The free groov View apps are an optional part of the larger package. Using the groov View app instead of a browser visually simplifies the interface on a mobile device by displaying it full screen and without browser menus. This option focuses the user's attention on the operator interface screen by removing navigation buttons, favorites, and the URL bar visible in most mobile device web browsers, and makes a groov interface function like a native app for that operating system. The groov View app includes options to leave time and other device information visible at the top of the screen as well as to switch between the views-desktop or handheld-developed for the operator interface. User access to the operator interface can be password protected.

The groov View app is ideal for OEMs and system integrators using an iOS or Android device as the operator interface to their systems or equipment. When used on iOS devices like the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, the iOS operating system can be configured to limit the user to using only groov View for iOS. Generally referred to as "kiosk mode," iOS's Guided Access feature lets an administrator restrict the iOS device to a single app, disable the hardware buttons, and keep the device from sleeping, effectively providing a low-power, low-cost, wireless, touchscreen operator interface locked down for an intended use only.

Opto 22 groov Box is an industrially hardened appliance that interfaces with Opto 22 control systems and runs the Opto 22 groov web application. Courtesy: Opto 22Product features

The product consists of an Opto 22 groov:

- Box – Industrially hardened appliance that interfaces with Opto 22 control systems and runs the groov web application.

- Build – Web application’s mode for creating a groov project (the interface).

- View – Web application’s mode for running a groov project in any modern web browser.

- View for iOS – iOS app for groov View (optional).

- View for Android –Android app for groov View (optional).

Version 1 will be available in April for use with SNAP PAC controllers, and version 2 with OPC connectivity is expected this summer, Hougland said. Pre-orders will be taken starting March 13.

- Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer, 

- This article was originally posted Feb. 28, 2013, with information from Opto 22 and updated May 14 by Peter Welander with additional information about groov View apps for iOS and Android.

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