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'Power Assist' set to stimulate new generations of tools and appliances

19 November 2003 News

A novel technology from Cambridge Consultants is being developed to allow power assistance to be applied in highly sensitive ways to everyday consumer and trade equipment from work tools to kitchen appliances.

Dubbed Power Assist, the technology provides a way of interacting with powered products that replaces 'crude on/off' functionality with a natural and responsive control that is directly related to a user's hand movement.

"Motorised power can be a very blunt instrument," says Craig Webster, head of power products at CCL. "This new concept creates an opportunity to produce a range of high-value, interactive products, at relatively low cost. This is particularly important in markets like power tools, where many products are mature and gravitating towards commodity pricing."

Power Assist is a low-cost control and feedback technique for applying the power of an electric motor based on a hand-wheel user interface. CCL is demonstrating the concept with a power drill, where the normal trigger control is replaced by the kind of hand-wheel used on a manual drill. Motor power is applied according to the wheel's speed of rotation, and a novel torque feedback technique also applies varying degrees of reverse pressure to the wheel, to give the user the sensation of the load and the force being applied.

CCL says that this control scheme gives the tool a much more natural feel, directly translating a user's turning hand movement into powered drilling. Power Assist can be added to most kinds of motor-powered appliances using just a handful of low cost components, which in essence are a slightly more sophisticated version of the motor control circuitry that is currently used. According to the company its applications potential is wide ranging. It includes power tools for the garden, workshop and trades - as well as specialist professions such as surgery - and kitchen appliances such as food mixers.

For more information contact Cambridge Consultants, 0944 1223 420024, claire.gale@cambridgeconsultants.com





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