Leica Captivate Education Series – Connectivity

This week’s Leica Captivate Education Series concerns itself with connectivity. What better person to interview about this than Alastair Green, Business Director of Field Measurement Software and Field Controllers at Leica Geosystems, and in particular, of Leica Captivate software and the CS20 field controller and CS35 tablet. Alastair answers our questions:

The Leica CS35

The Leica CS35

The Leica CS20

The Leica CS20

Q:
In June 2015, the Leica Captivate experience was launched. Along with the release of the Leica Captivate software, the CS20 field controller and CS35 tablet were also released which both run Leica Captivate. Can you tell us please something about the CS20?
A:
The Leica CS20 is a handheld controller – if you like, it can be considered a “classical” field controller for measuring and staking work. It has a big 5” wide VGA screen, a QWERTY keypad, Internet connectivity through 3.75G modem and WLAN, Bluetooth and uniquely, a fully integrated total station radio connection for robotic total station use and integrated DISTO.

Q:
And the Leica CS35?
A:
The Leica CS35 tablet runs on Windows 8.1 and is basically a PC, with the performance of a PC. It has a 10.1” screen and is highly rugged, meeting tough IP ratings criteria for use in the field. And it goes without saying that it has Internet connectivity by means of modem and WLAN, is Bluetooth enabled and also has a fully integrated total station radio connection for robotic total station use.

Q:
So why does Leica Geosystems offer two very different “controller” platforms for running Leica Captivate?
A:
Clearly there is a trend towards the use of tablets. Obviously this is true for personal and home use with the iPad and other similar tablets, but finally, technology enables powerful, rugged and reliable tablets to also be used in the field, in harsh conditions. We always wanted to offer a tablet for field use with our field measurement software but we wanted to wait until a tablet was available, which would meet the criteria and high requirements we have for our field instruments. Finally with the Leica CS35, we have such a tablet.

Q:
But why still offer a “classical” handheld controller – the Leica CS20?
A:
Our customers are varied and very different – they work in many different environments, they often work in difficult conditions, they perform a wide range of tasks and of course they all have their own personal and preferred ways of working. The classical handheld controller has been around for a very long time and will not disappear overnight – for many users, keypad usage is the primary way to use their software, or some users have used classical controllers for so long, they cannot imagine using any other type of controller. However, some users will certainly embrace the tablet. They prefer using a touch screen for all their work and like having a massive 10” screen to visualise their data. Offering both a handheld controller and tablet allows our users to choose their preferred way of working.

Q:
You were involved with the design of the Leica CS20 right from the very start of the project. Can you tell us something about the design process and the requirements for the Leica CS20 in general?
A:
Wow – this could be a very long answer! I will try to summarise… More important than anything else, we wanted a very positive user experience, starting from the very first moment the user sees the Leica CS20 and puts it in his or her hand. We wanted the user to instantly know that the Leica CS20 is a product of real quality, it is fit for the task at hand and it will easily be able to do the job that it is supposed to do. This does not simply mean that the Leica CS20 was only designed with ruggedness in mind – although that, of course, was a key design feature. What this means is that the product as a whole needed to bring across a positive user experience – this is achieved in many different smaller ways and the sum of these smaller parts leads to the overall bigger positive user experience.

Q:
Can you give some examples?
A:
Of course! For example, the first key decision was to decide what screen size to use. We wanted a screen which was as large as possible to allow the software to be used as comfortably as possible, but not such a large size that the overall size of the controller becomes unmanageable – so we settled on a 5” screen. Having decided the screen size, and knowing we wanted a QWERTY keypad, we then needed to design the keypad – again the keys on the keypad should be large enough and spaced well enough to use gloves, but again not so big that the overall size of the controller becomes unmanageable. So then we had a general size for the controller. After this we wanted to make sure the device fits comfortably in the hand when it is held. It is a funny thing that actually the controller is mostly used on the survey pole and not in the hand, but the first time the user is introduced to the controller he will hold it in his hand and that is where first impressions are made – hence we spent a lot of time designing the shape of the Leica CS20 so that it fits comfortably in the hand – which it does. Then we needed to decide which materials to use – we chose to use high quality materials and components – all of which add to the overall positive user experience and so on and so on. Literally every component is thought about, right down to the smallest detail, in order to achieve the user experience we wanted.

Q:
You talk a lot about the user experience – I assume this also applies to Leica Captivate software…?
A:
Absolutely. We wanted to offer a complete solution to the customer and one key aspect of the overall solution is the software and hardware. Having a hardware and software which work seamlessly together is one important element of a positive user experience – and with Leica Captivate running seamlessly on the Leica CS20 and Leica CS35, we have achieved this. I will speak more about the design and thoughts behind the design of the Leica Captivate software in the next blog….

Alastair Green, Business Director of Field Measurement Software and Field Controllers at Leica Geosystems.

Alastair Green, Business Director of Field Measurement Software and Field Controllers at Leica Geosystems.

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