About Konica Minolta

Giving Shape to Ideas

Technologies for the Future

Wearable Communicator

Revolutionizing workflow
with visual data through holographic optical technology and ICT

A revolution in the manufacturing
and logistics industries
following the advance of Industry 4.0

As the IoT (Internet of Things) accelerates the 4th industrial revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0, on-site innovations in the manufacturing and logistics industries have become an important challenge. The basis for Industry 4.0 are CPS (Cyber Physical Systems), which connect data from real-world sensor networks and other sources with advanced computing capabilities. Konica Minolta has developed a CPS user interface in the form of a wearable display, called the WCc, or Wearable Communicator.

Konica Minolta's unique “HOE: Holographic Optical Element” technology has solved issues on existing head-mounted displays such as size, weight and obscured visibility. The WCc achieves miniaturization, a light weight, high transparency transmission, vibrant colors, high resolution and a wide field of view. The user can efficiently work hands-free while being provided with relevant operational information.

Konica Minolta is committed to on-site perspectives starting with the customer in providing solutions for manufacturing and shipping using a combination of WCc and ICT, and is contributing to the advancement of not only Industry 4.0, but a wide range of workplace enhancements.

HOE technology achieves a lightweight,
transparent display module with a wide field of view.

The WCc projects digital information necessary for work overlapped onto the real-world environment seen through the transparent prism. The digital images displayed on the miniature LCD in the upper frame of the glass is guided through a transparent prism and reflected by the HOE to reach the eye.

The key to this system is the proprietary “HOE: Holographic Optical Element” technology. The HOE has two main features; "magnifying" images projected by the miniature LCD, and "filtering" specific wavelengths.

HOE's lens function
Magnification of projected images and module miniaturization

Conventional head-mounted displays which project large digital images onto the eye needed to magnify the image on the miniature LCD. This required the projector itself to be larger and results in too heavy module to use in a real working environment.

The HOE's lens function solves this issue. It works in the same way as a magnifying glass, enlarging the image.

WCc takes advantage of this feature to magnify (up to 100 times) the image on the built-in miniature LCD, allowing the users to see the equivalent of a 42-inch display at a distance of 2.5 meters in front of them. Implementing HOE rather than lenses or mirrors as optical elements makes the size of the LCD smaller, which results in a simple, miniaturized and lightweight device.

HOE's filtering function
Specific light wavelengths
only selected to be reflected

When using a head-mounted display in a working environment, digital images must be easy to see, while also keeping the real-world environment easy to see. However, existing methods did not allow a user to comfortably view digital images and their real-world environment in balanced contrast.

The solution to this was the filtering function of holograms. The focus during development was on how not to reflect all colors (wavelengths) like a mirror, but reflecting only light of certain wavelengths and letting the others pass through.

High clarity is achieved by filtering only the spectrum of the digital images from the real world environment through the prism.

The WCc utilized this function to create digital images in RGB colors of specific wavelengths. Konica Minolta developed HOE to only reflect those wavelengths. Digital images are efficiently reflected to the eye by putting the HOE into a prism. Most light from the real-world environment aside from the specific wavelengths pass through the HOE, allowing for natural visibility.

The WCc uses this proprietary HOE filtering capability to display bright, clear, color digital images while also seeing the real world environment clearly. This means that digital images can be viewed clearly even in bright environments and the user can see their real world environment even in the dark.

Revolutionizing workflow in the logistics industry
with hands-free visual support

In logistics, “Picking” is the identification process of items to be shipped in a warehouse. During picking, there are many time-consuming processes such as confirming information, checking workflow, confirming inventory after picking, returning mistakenly picked items and switching picking terminals.
Unlike conventional development of glass devices, Konica Minolta first specifically analyzed on-site workflow to focus on clients’ issues in logistics operations.
This problem-solving approach involved customizations to accompany an HOE module-based Picking process, linking with input devices and SW Solutions to build a CPS for shipping. The system significantly reduces operation time and improves efficiency.

With information on picking and other actions displayed when needed, hands-free, operations became 50% more time efficient than conventional picking operations (according to Konica Minolta’s research). In addition, quality of work can be improved by confirming displayed directions with both hands free.

Solution implementation includes linking with main systems as well as supporting the establishment of a fast, efficient system. In the future, further data analysis service solutions will also be considered and proposed based on work data, worker log analysis, including route and resource placement optimization and automatic optimization of storage layout, based on season and demand.

Expanding business fields
through an open platform

The one of main targets for future WCc application is to provide solutions in the manufacturing industry, such as remote work support. With the advent of Industry 4.0 and the mass customization age, the applications for WCc will grow along with the needs to support increasing non-stationery operation in terms of both efficiency and safety.

In addition, WCc uses world standardized internet technology with an open developer platform, allowing for adoption into machine maintenance, medicine, security, tourism and much more. By providing new visual data through the WCc in partnership with innovative partners in every field, Konica Minolta continues to revolutionize client workflow.

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