Aircraft Technology Engineering & Maintenance

IT for the paperless MRO environment (PDF)

The Nomad Expert Technician System

We now switch our attention from system-wide IT solutions to a specific tool that can help make paperless MRO operation a reality. In January 2004, Microvision (a Bothell, WA based company) launched the Nomad Expert Technician System, a wireless wearable computer with a headworn, head-up display. By allowing technicians to superimpose text and diagrams from electronic service manuals directly over their workspace, the Nomad Expert Technician System is intended to help them stay focused on their task and perform diagnostic and repair work faster and more accurately. Weighing only 4.5 ounces, the Nomad head-worn Display Module delivers high contrast, highresolution (SVGA) transparent images that can be overlaid on the user’s vision. The unit can either be mounted under the brim of a cap or integrated into a headband.

The Nomad Expert Technician System includes a fully integrated wireless (802.11b) Windows CE.Net ‘thin client’ computer, enabling it to be connected to an existing computer terminal or remote server to access web-based content via the included Internet Explorer browser. The user controls input and navigation through a touch pad and keypad on the belt-mounted Nomad Control Module.

“Our technology allows us to be daylight-readable and see-through,” says Bruce Westcoat, Microvision’s marketing manager for defence and aviation. “This device automatically adjusts to the bright sunlight, and we can control and modulate that light source and put plenty of brightness in the image right at the eye. Competing technologies such as AML CDs or LEDs can’t get that bright image to the eye in a see-through format: because of the technology, it washes out in the sunlight, or they have to occlude the image which means you can no longer see through it.”

The Nomad Expert Technician System was originally developed for the automotive industry, with Honda as its launch customer. “They’ve done field trials that resulted in a 40 per cent increase in productivity,” says Wescoat, “and the reason for that increase is, [previously] a lot of the technicians were having to stop what they were doing, go to a terminal, pull out the manual, go back to their vehicle, try and relate it to the vehicle, maybe forget a couple of the parameters... This resulted in a 40 per cent improvement [for that reason].”

The FAA has deemed the product a secondary flight instrument not requiring certification, and Microvision is now hoping to establish it in the commercial aerospace arena. “We’ve been quite extensive testing with one of the major turbine engine manufacturers,” says Westcoat. “We have talked to airframers — of course, we’re near Seattle, which is home to one of the world’s major airframers; they’re extremely interested — but I think our best entry point right now is the engine side, and I think you’re going to see, in the next [couple of] quarters, one or two announcements in that area.”
Thanks to rrknowsmore.