Connected Power Tools

Innovation and technology partnerships for human-machine interaction: Intelligent, connected objects for everyday life.

The development of a cordless screwdriver equipped with sensors enables information exchange between the user and the machine. This interaction is intended to help the DIY enthusiast achieve better results while reducing the risk of injury from misuse. Its use in the professional sector offers new opportunities in training and further education for craftsmen.

Project Overview

The research project ‘Connected Power Tools’ involves the combination of conventional tools with modern IoT technology. By linking them, data is collected and analyzed via attached sensors. This enables automatic adjustment of parameters for the next step of work and aims to improve the user’s work results. In this project, Selfbits is responsible for providing an application for operating the cordless screwdriver and supplying a scalable cloud infrastructure for central data collection and analysis. They are also involved in the real-time visualization and evaluation of the analysis data.

The project is being conducted from September 2019 to July 2022 and has a total funding volume of €2.83 million. With this initiative, Selfbits successfully participates as a project partner in a promising development of tools. Collaborating with six other project participants from academia and industry, various expertise has contributed to the development of interactive tools. Besides achieving better work results, the exchange of information between humans and machines also aims to reduce misuse of tools.

The project sponsor for the call is VDI/VDE-IT. Funding for project implementation is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Project Duration

September 2019 - July 2022

Funding volume

€2.83 million (of which 73% is funded by BMBF)

Funded by

Motivation

Power tools, such as drills or cordless screwdrivers, are nowadays present in almost every household. They are used in a variety of do-it-yourself situations to enhance the home environment. With the steadily growing demand for DIY equipment for ambitious projects, support for the use of tools by amateurs has become necessary. Lack of expertise is intended to be compensated for by the interaction between the DIY enthusiast and the technical device. Connected tools support the goal of achieving better results and aim to avoid faulty executions and device damage. Last but not least, they contribute to preventing injuries to the user. The use of modern IoT technologies thus enables safe handling.

Project Objective & Approach

The research project aims to develop a cordless screwdriver equipped with sensors, turning it into an intelligent assistant for the user. Comprehensive support is achieved through device connectivity within a digital ecosystem. Settings and recommendations for the user are retrieved from the cloud and provided to the user via the toolbox, serving as a hub for information exchange. From there, adjustments to operating parameters are also made for optimal results. During use, the device automatically sends measurement data back to the cloud, which is then processed for further guidance. The goal of the project is a measurable improvement in work results using IoT technologies based on information exchange between the machine and the user.

Innovation & Perspectives

The use of modern IoT technologies in power tools enables DIY enthusiasts to enhance their craftsmanship skills and work more safely with power tools. In the commercial sector, it is possible that the developed technologies could be used in the training and further education of tradespeople. This would help train individuals in the use of technical equipment and potentially improve practical application in craftsmanship.

The contribution of Selfbits to the project

Selfbits’ involvement in the CoPoT research project focuses on three main areas. As a basis for processing and analyzing the collected data, Selfbits takes on the evaluation for establishing a cloud infrastructure for centralized data acquisition. For the operation of the cordless screwdriver, Selfbits develops a user-friendly app for visualizing analyzed data. Additionally, they are involved in the evaluation and presentation of the analyzed data collected by sensors when using the tool.

To design the human-machine interaction between the toolbox, cordless screwdriver, and user effectively, Selfbits conducts an evaluation for building a scalable cloud infrastructure. It is critical to examine which data should be processed directly on the edge or centrally in the cloud. To achieve a smooth process of data analysis, a cloud analytics framework is developed and provided.

Real-time data acquisition and analysis require a modern IT architecture with rapid processing. When using machine-operated tools, various data are generated in a short period. Selfbits’ task is to capture and analyze the signals generated during use. Furthermore, networking should enable a response to the collected data. This means that information is provided to the tool after processing the data, such as parameter settings or functions (drilling, screwing, etc.).

The application developed by Selfbits serves as the foundation for the necessary networking between the technical device, toolbox, and the cloud. In the appropriate combination, data collection, analysis, and human-machine interaction are enabled.

Based on this foundation, Selfbits addresses challenges regarding seamless data analysis and subsequent responses. The continuous and fast exchange of data requires minimal processing times for collected data. Various approaches to edge processing have been successfully evaluated in the CoPoT project to process, analyze, and react to real-time data.

Decentralized activities in the local network allow high-speed data exchange while conserving computing resources sustainably. Exponentially increasing data volumes in IoT applications require decentralized data processing to ensure real-time communication.

The edge processing approach enables decentralized pre-filtering of data, allowing for immediate data and signal processing. Subsequently, processed data are stored in the cloud. Local calculation, processing, and analysis of data at the source minimize response times and promise maximum benefit.

Fast data exchange in this project aims to support a positive user experience and ensure real-time responses and device settings. The innovative combination of conventional tools and modern technologies brings scientific insights and prepares the industry for new possibilities.

Participation in the “Connected Power Tools” research project allows Selfbits to contribute practical experience to innovative research and optimize the collection of generated data.

To measure the heartbeat of an entire production, various signals must be captured and analyzed at different times and locations. Selfbits’ core competency lies in the data acquisition and real-time analysis of interconnected production processes. This expertise is continuously developed in collaboration with customers from manufacturing industries.

Project Consortium

The IPEK is a research institution at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, which focuses on scientific product development and innovation with a specialization in driving systems, mobility, and devices.

The Selfbits GmbH is a spin-off of the KIT, developing digital solutions in the field of Industry 4.0 and IIoT for medium-sized industrial companies. In doing so, Selfbits brings transparency and efficient processes to the production of these companies.

The FZI Research Center for Information Technology is a non-profit institution focusing on applied research and technology transfer in the field of computer science. Collaborating with partners from industry, academia, and administration, the FZI deals with information technology and develops practical innovation impulses.

The wbk Institute of Production Science is dedicated to applied research, teaching, and innovation in the field of production technology at KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology). The research areas mainly cover three domains: manufacturing and materials technology, equipment and process automation, and holistic production systems.

The Tech-solute GmbH specializes in the development of technical innovations. As an engineering service provider, the company offers future-oriented strategies, ideas, and technical solutions.

Spectra GmbH & Co. KG‘s services in the field of industrial PCs include the development and manufacturing of customized industrial PC systems. They also specialize in small batch productions as part of their portfolio.

Festool GmbH is a manufacturer of electric and pneumatic tools for professional users in the woodworking industry. In addition to cordless drills, jigsaws, planers, and sanders, the company also produces routers and specialty vacuums.

Are you interested in our research project?