Augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) is slowly creeping into many facets of everyday life. One of the most instructive use cases for this technology is education, where anyone can access tools and experiences in a metaverse that they might not have access to otherwise.

This week, Digi-Key Electronics brought the merits of AR/VR to the world of electrical engineering with a new interactive online platform called Innovation Hub. Digi-Key describes Innovation Hub as an immersive experience that allows students, makers, and engineers to digitally interact with the modern engineer’s workshop while also perusing Digi-Key’s extensive product offerings.

Test Bench

One of the central tools offered in Innovation Hub is the Test Bench, a facsimile of what one might expect in a real engineer’s lab setup.

At the Test Bench, users can explore different lab tools and a variety of associated product options offered by Digi-Key. For instance, when users click on the virtual oscilloscope, they are presented with a number of different products including the Rigol DS1054Z and the B&K Precision 2190E. From there, the user can further explore the products with a 360 viewer feature. They can also review key specs, highlights, and links to data sheets and associated product information.

The Digi-Key Innovation Hub Test Bench

The Digi-Key Innovation Hub Test Bench. 

Aside from oscilloscopes, the Test Bench showcases various multimeter and soldering iron offerings. Digi-Key added other common engineering tools to the Test Bench, such as a 3D printer, wire cutters, and a desktop. While empirically neater than a real engineer’s lab setup, the Digi-Key Test Bench offers an accurate representation of what one might expect to find in the lab.

Boards Explorer

Another key feature of the Digi-Key Innovation Hub is the Boards Explorer, a tool to view and evaluate a variety of development boards.

Within the Boards Explorer, users can choose from a large variety of development boards—everything from Arduino to STM32. Once a board is selected, the user goes through a similar interface as with the Test Bench. Here, a user can get a 360 view of the board and peruse key features, highlights, and links to landing pages that provide more information and buying options.

360-degree view of the product

Once a board is selected, users can get a 360-degree view of the product. 

While there is no feature to actually emulate and test any of the boards, the Boards Explorer provides a unique way to view a board, get a feel for its relative size, and learn more about its functionality.

Calculators and More

Beyond the Test Bench and Boards Explorer, the Digi-Key Innovation Hub offers other useful tools. These include a Calculator section, where a user can use a number of EE-focused calculators that are otherwise hosted on Digi-Key’s website. The Calculator section also includes a conversion tool, allowing engineers to convert between standard metric units.

Calculator section

A look at the calculators offered in the Calculator section. 

Finally, Innovation Hub includes a Knowlege Center, which breaks off into two parts: the Video Library and the Resource Library. The Video Library is replete with Digi-Key educational videos, including how-tos, tutorials, and overviews on emerging technologies and markets. The Resource Library is similar, offering documents, e-books, and guides on everything from creating a startup to how electronic components work.

Accessible From Any Computer

Digi-Key’s Innovation Hub is a novel way to explore the offerings on Digi-Key’s website. It allows users to shop for products, use tools, and learn new material all in one concise and immersive space. Digi-Key intends to debut Innovation Hub on June 21–23 at embedded world in Nuremberg, Germany. Even so, users from anywhere can check out Innovation Hub from a laptop or desktop computer. 

All screenshots used courtesy of Digi-Key.