With over a dozen global brands as well as products available under its own name, the chances are good that the average consumer is making tonight’s dinner on a stove or in an oven made by this home appliance original equipment manufacturer (OEM).
The extensive number of appliance models in its portfolio means that this OEM must take an integrated approach to product design. Each appliance project has a far-ranging scope and execution, and decisions find their way into multiple company SKUs around the world.
One of the company’s most significant recent projects was for a new series of cooktops and ovens. Among the primary objectives for this program was a significantly larger, high performance glass panel touchscreen user display. Numerous cooking controls, along with important graphical readouts, would be contained in the highly contemporary, clean interface. Additionally, taking a graphical approach to providing recipes for the user was a primary project goal.
Completing the display engineering, however, was becoming a problem. The OEM had been using a design software package by the hardware manufacturer; however, the package could not support their own vision for the user interface. In addition to the volume of graphics involved, their engineers were having difficulty placing the logic component for the graphical user interface (GUI) onto the design’s Renesas Synergy chipset.
“This OEM’s design processes utilized an environment in which content is described in a data format,” recalled Brett Stein, Vice President of Operations for Altia. “That data needs to flow freely, which means the OEM’s design tools need to accommodate that. The tool they were using could not support the data flow, nor could it meet the target chip’s memory constraints.”
With time growing short on its development timeline, the OEM reached out to Altia based on recommendations for their consulting expertise; in short order, Altia’s Professional Engineering Services team began work on the challenge.
“The display and design vision was already in place, which meant we needed to quickly get on board with the engineering requirements,” noted Stein. “Our job was to optimize the core GUI software code to fit on the preselected part.”
Because Altia’s engineering team is skilled in all phases of GUI design, from application and business logic development to user experience and design testing, they understood the integration requirements. Central to the OEM design team’s challenge was adapting the GUI logic component to the available chip memory.
“We leaned on our rich experience in optimizing embedded environments to deliver feature-rich design and user experience to their hardware,” added Stein. “The performance we were able to achieve on their hardware was truly impressive.”
We leaned on our rich experience in optimizing embedded environments to deliver feature-rich design and user experience to their hardware.“
Brett Stein, Vice President of Operations
Despite having only a few months to complete their work, the Altia engineering services team was able to generate and test code that satisfied the project’s design and memory constraints. The production release met its appointed deadline, and manufacturing on the new series of products started soon after.
Successfully completing this initial challenge, however, meant that the relationship between Altia and this home appliance OEM was just beginning. The oven appliance program is a long-term strategic initiative—and the OEM continues to retain Altia for a deep partnership that will span more products, more brands, more features and more configurations.
“Altia’s software engineering services staff has helped us with enhancements such as new convection cycles for bake and broil, along with other improvements to provide a better overall user experience,” stated the OEM’s Project Manager. “Altia has been a close collaborator in scoping, executing and testing.”
Altia’s original graphics code and logic, delivered under the tightest of requirements, continues to provide a common base across all the company’s oven brands. The durable solution has allowed their design teams to quickly expand its features without revisiting the base—a huge advantage when time to market is critical.
“Altia has solutions that cover every phase of human-machine interface expertise. They have a thorough understanding of GUI-based applications that supports quick market releases. But it is the relationship between our team and Altia that is most valuable. Together we have introduced exciting new features that meet consumer needs, on time and within budget. And we’re just getting started,” stated the Project Manager.