Seeing Clearly on the Job WESTUNITIS CO., LTD. IP

Website: WESTUNITIS CO., LTD.external link
Category: Machinery

The WESTUNITIS InfoLinker is a workplace wearable that grants 20/20 vision to factory workers, inspectors, and surgeons

For factory line or assembly workers involved in highly technical tasks, flipping open an instruction manual simply isn't an option when you’re working with both hands. The InfoLinker from WESTUNITIS CO., LTD. allows its users to share video while receiving detailed feedback and instructions from the inside of an eyeglass lens.

Meet the InfoLinker, courtesy of WESTUNITIS CO., LTD.

Although wearables are one of the more popular trends in the tech world today, Osaka-based firm WESTUNITIS comes to this technology space with a pedigree that makes it clear that it is not simply adding another gadget to a growing wave of products. As Takahito Fukuda, President of WESTUNITIS, explains, the company has been working with instructional materials for more than 30 years.

WESTUNITIS CO., LTD. President Takahito Fukuda

Starting out with print-based technical guides and operation manuals for industrial applications, the firm progressed in the digital realm, from CD-ROMs and PDFs to interactive tutorials and applications for mobile devices. But as Fukuda says, “we recognized that these were not always devices you could hold when your hands were dirty or oily. How could we confront that particular challenge?”

Real-Time Technical Information, Right Before Your Eyes

The InfoLinker is an -mounted wearable equipped with a miniature camera and a 428 x 240 pixel LCD that can be viewed in either eye. A 60x digital zoom allows wearers to get real-time magnification of what’s in front of them, and the Android-powered mobile device connects via Wi-Fi to let its users connect with remote parties who can send data, video tutorials, and messages, all which can be viewed on the heads-up display.

Working with an accelerometer, the InfoLinker can be set to show or hide the display when a user's head is in a certain position, which can be very useful when the wearer might be working from a prone position or an unusual angle.

Although many would think of Google Glass when it comes to augmented reality wearables, Fukuda is quick to point out that the “InfoLinker is meant to be a tool for work, not a gadget without immediate applications.”

The third generation of the InfoLinker can be attached to a variety of different eyeglasses

InfoLinker software, courtesy of WESTUNITIS CO., LTD.

Bringing a New Vision to a Variety of Businesses

Companies are using the product at construction sites and assembly lines, for surveying, and even in surgery. WESTUNITIS has collaborated with the tool company KTC to develop a connected torque wrench that can tell its users how much force is needed to fasten a fixture. Fukuda points out that one of the company’s largest strengths is their ability to customize the product to a given client’s needs. The InfoLinker is for sale in the US and Europe, and the company is looking to extend their reach overseas in the manufacturing and construction industries.

Fukuda explains that the company did not file for a patent when they first developed the software InfoLinker uses some 10 years ago, and there are many other products on the market that are trying to replicate the functions of the InfoLinker. However, he adds that WESTUNITIS has the advantage when it comes to their knowledge base and experience. Since the first generation of the InfoLinker was created in 2013, the company has registered several hardware-based patents.

And, while this hands-free device is focused on the B-to-B market, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its share of mass-market appeal. Fukuda has shown it at Las Vegas’s Consumer Electronics Show for two years running, and he says that first-time users almost all respond the same way: “Wow!”

Based on interview in February 2016