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smatrix agroscience

Questions about headsets

What features should I look for in a headset?

  • a microphone with active noise cancellation
  • a microphone windscreen of foam (can be purchased separately)
  • USB connection type A for the most typical Windows devices, as jack plugs can rotate in the socket and impair the speech recognition
  • the frequency range for voice input (microphone) should be at least 12 kHz (better still 16 kHz)
  • optional: built-in controls including a mute button

Can I use a Bluetooth headset?

We recommend using either a cable headset or the belows mentioned cordless W-Series (no Bluetooth) from Plantronics, as the voice audio quality of Bluetooth headsets is subject to large fluctuations - depending on the combination of headset and device and the respective codecs.

What headset do you recommend?

Cable headsets:

  • Plantronics Blackwire 3200 series – models available with USB-A or USB-C connectors and with one or two earpieces, depending on your preferences/requirements
  • CMP NET 2010 M with USB-A connector

Cordless headsets: 

  • Plantronics SAVI W-Series (DECT – requires a USB port for the DECT receiver)

Can I use a headset in wet/rainy conditions?

Yes – beneath a waterproof hood.

Can I use smatrix in windy conditions?

Yes – if your headset microphone has a windscreen (e.g. made of foam) and adequate noise cancellation, you can even use smatrix in windy conditions. It may help to keep your headset drivers updated.

Will the software be affected by background noise (wind, colleagues, rustling plants)?

smatrix can also be used in environments where background noise is present. For this to work properly, you must create a voice profile for the environment in question and use a headset with adequate noise cancellation.

smatrix agroscience Windows

Questions about hardware

What are the hardware requirements for smatrix Windows?

smatrix Windows requires Windows 7 (or later) and Excel 2013 (or later). We also recommend having at least 4GB of RAM for quick and smooth operation. 

ATTENTION: smatrix Windows does not work with Windows 10 S or the Surface version of Microsoft Excel!

What tablet or laptop do you recommend for using smatrix?

Any device that meets the hardware requirements and your own specific requirements (price, battery life, outdoor use etc.).

Does GPS work? Do I have the current GPS coordinates?

smatrix has no influence on the GPS localisation/location detection of your device or third-party software. It is not possible to navigate to individual test plots using GPS, as the accuracy is not sufficient to do so.

smatrix for Windows does not support direct GPS localisation.

smatrix agroscience Windows

Questions about software

What are the differences between the Windows and the Android version of smatrix?

The most important difference is that smatrix Windows works directly in Excel while smatrix Android uses its own data table, which has to be converted into an Excel, CSV or PDF file after completion of the assessment/data input. Other differences are that the Android version has fewer voice commands and no subsample countdown.

Can I import my trial map/field plan?

smatrix (Windows) can be used with almost any Excel file. If the trial map/field plan is available as an Excel file, you can work with it. Linked cells should be avoided. Columns/cells containing more than one piece of information are also a hindrance. Therefore, make sure that each column/cell contains precisely one piece of information so that smatrix can work reliably with separate, stand-alone columns.

Can I use my ARM RatingShells?

Yes, smatrix (Windows) recognises the structure of the ARM RatingShell and automatically uses "Plot (Sub)" as the ID column. Use the "Subsample Plot Data" Excel sheet for the assessment.

How can I teach smatrix my own terms/column headings/traits/criteria?

The vocabulary of smatrix is stored in the language-specific Headers.xml file (English: Headers_en.xml). If you want to define your own terms after an initial or new installation, copy the Headers.xml file from the folder C:\ProgramData\smatrix\templates into the folder C:\ProgramData\smatrix\data. The file can be edited there (see XML topic).

How do I change the value ranges?

The value ranges of smatrix are stored in the language-specific Values.xml file (English: Values_en.xml) If you want to define your own value ranges after an initial or new installation, copy the Values.xml file from the folder C:\ProgramData\smatrix\templates into the folder C:\ProgramData\smatrix\data. The file can be edited there (see XML topic).

Can letters and words be used as values?

Yes, you can use words or letters as values as well as numbers and the date, but you need to teach them to smatrix first. You do this in the Values.xml file (see XML topic).

How to set up the ID column range?

Specify the Excel columns which contain your desired trial unit numbers (e.g. plots, rows, etc.). Individual columns have to be separated by a comma (B,D,F) or enter a column range using a dash (A-C).

ID columns may only consist of numbers or number-letter-combinations. If an Excel columns contains words such as variety names, those words will be read out by smatrix, however, they cannot be used for speech navigation!

ATTENTION: The order in which the ID columns have been specified is relevant for the ID column hierarchy! If ID columns are to be used independently, use the following format: A/1, B/1, etc.

See: Does smatrix recognise the piaf identifier (1/2/3)?

How do I assign a criterion to an Excel column?

After you open an Excel file with smatrix and define the criteria column range, you can define a criterion and its value range for each criteria column. To do this, first select the column by checking the box next to the column label. You can then select the desired trait from the 'Category' and 'Criterion' drop-down menus. You also need to set the value range. 

If the Excel column header matches the vocabulary stored in the Headers.xml file, the respective Excel column is automatically recognised and configured (see Auto Configuration).

Can criteria be associated with value ranges?

Yes, in the Headers.xml file you can associate each individual criterion with a value range, so when you select this criterion, the value range is also set automatically.

Add the element range="ABC" to a criterion (subject) in the Headers.xml file. ABC corresponds to the topic id of the value range as specified in the Values.xml file.

The following example links the criterion 'Phytotoxicity' with the value range '0-100':

<subject id="181" name="Phytotoxicity" range="NUMBER1"/>

<topic id="NUMBER1" name="0 - 100">

<generator type="NUMBER" from="0" to="100"/>

</topic>

Auto Configuration – how does it work?

If the Excel column headers match the predefined terms/criteria (more precisely: the subject name), smatrix automatically assigns these criteria to the Excel columns when a new Excel file is opened. The same applies to the headings of the identifiers (plot etc.).

From version 1.8 smatrix can detect up to five cells per columns (version 1.7: only one cell per column), meaning column headers with multiple cells are available.

Saving, auto save / What happens to the data if the battery runs out?

In smatrix for Windows we recommend saving the Excel file as often as possible. To do this, activate Excel’s 'Auto save' function and set a sufficiently short time interval. The Excel file is also saved automatically when smatrix is closed. You can save your current progress at any time using the voice command 'Save workbook'.

How do I add a new criteria column?

Whatever the content of the Excel file, a new criteria column can be added in three ways:

1) In the 'Sheet configuration' menu, add another letter corresponding to the desired Excel column to the 'Criteria column range' field. The new column letter must be preceded by a comma to separate it.

2) by voice command: “add column before / after <criterion name>”
Example: “add column before yellow rust”

3) by voice command: “add <criterion name> before / after <criterion name>”
Example: “add brown rust before yellow rust”

How do I add extra rows?

If you are in the 'Sheet configuration' menu of smatrix, you can make any changes you wish to the Excel file, e.g. inserting or adding extra rows. Afterwards you need to adjust the row range in smatrix under the menu item 'Row selection'.

ATTENTION: If the structure of the Excel file is changed in 'Listen' or 'Pause' mode, smatrix will not recognise this change. Changes can therefore only be made from the 'Sheet configuration' menu of smatrix!

Can I use my piaf trial results page?

Yes, smatrix (Windows) recognises the structure of the piaf test results page. The identifier (1/2 or 1/2/3) or plot number can be used as an ID column. You can assign the terms "Variety", "Repetition" and/or "Treatment" to the identifier (see piaf identifiers).

This feature is currently in development for smatrix Android.

Does smatrix recognise the piaf identifier (1/2/3)?

Yes, from version 1.7.1.5 the piaf identifier can be used in X/Y or X/Y/Z format. If smatrix does not recognise and assign the piaf identifier automatically, the identifier column must be entered manually under the menu item 'Mapping IDs' in the format A/2 for the identifier X/Y or A/3 for the identifier X/Y/Z. You can then select a label from the dropdown menu for each element of the identifier (X, Y, and Z). 

Can I sort the data in my Excel file while smatrix is running?

Yes, you can sort the data in an Excel trial file if you are in the 'Sheet configuration' menu. 

ATTENTION: If you sort the data while in 'Listen' or 'Pause' mode, smatrix will not recognise the new structure of the Excel file.

It takes too long to configure an Excel file – how can I speed up/bypass the process?

  1. Auto Configuration: if the subject name of a criterion/identifier (see XML topic) corresponds to the content of an Excel cell, the criterion/identifier is automatically assigned to the Excel column. Additionally, you can associate a criterion with a value range (see XML topic) so that you no longer have to set this range manually. smatrix also recognises the subsample column if it has the header "Sample", "Subsample" or "Sub", and it recognises the number of subsamples if it is entered in an Excel column with the header "# Subsamples" or "Subsamples" (see XML topic).
  2. Templates: If you are using identical or very similar Excel files for a trial or series of trials, you can save the configuration of the first file as a template for subsequent Excel files. Once you have completely configured an Excel file, you will be asked if you want to save the configuration as a template when you click the 'Ready' button in the top-right corner. When you open another, similarly structured Excel file, you can load this template to pre-configure your file. 

Can I set/change the order in which the criteria columns are selected?

Yes, from version 1.7.1.6 you can change the order of the criteria columns by entering the columns in the desired order in the criteria column range field. For example, C,G,E,D,F (instead of C-G) means that first column C will be selected, then column G, E and so on.

smatrix agroscience windows

Questions about subsampling

How does subsampling work?

Subsampling is activated by defining a subsample column. You can either use a separate column or, if the format is correct (see next point), an ID column. You can then set the number of subsamples per trial unit (e.g. plot) for each individual criterion in the '# Subsamples' field.

When subsampling is activated, the progress between cells changes: now all subsample measurements must be completed for one criterion before proceeding to the next criterion of the same trial unit (e.g. plot). Of course, you can still switch to any cell at any time by using voice navigation or by clicking.

The following voice commands are available additionally when using subsampling:

"Fill with <value>" fills all subsamples of the currently active criterion with the specified value.

"Fill <trial unit> with 0 / 100 / not available" fills all subsamples of the specified trial unit (e.g. plot) with 0 / 100 / not available.

smatrix also recognises the subsample column if it has the header "Sample", "Subsample" or "Sub" and the number of subsamples if it is entered in an Excel column with the header "# Subsamples" or "Subsamples" (see XML and Auto Configuration topics).

ATTENTION: the number of subsamples defined in the '# Subsamples' field must not exceed the actual number of subsample rows in the Excel file; it must be the same or lower!

How do I have to enter subsample numbers in order for smatrix to recognise them as subsamples?

  1. In a separate subsample column. This column is located directly below the ID column range field when a workbook is set up.
  2. In ARM format (i.e. 101 1, 101 2, 101 3, ..., 201 1, 201 2, 201 3, etc.); in this case, the ID and subsample columns are one and the same.

Will I be informed about the number of remaining subsamples per plot?

Yes, besides "Prompts on/off" there is a subsampling countdown which announces after every ten subsamples how many subsamples remain for the current trial unit (e.g. plot). It also announces the fifth-to-last and last samples and confirms when all subsample measurements have been performed for the current trial unit.

Can a different number of subsamples be measured within the same plot depending on the criterion/trait?

Yes, you can define an individual number of subsamples for each individual criterion per trial unit (e.g. plot) in the '# Subsamples' field.

smatrix recognises the number of subsamples if it is entered in an Excel column with the header "# Subsamples" or "Subsamples" (see XML and Auto Configuration topics).

ATTENTION: the number of subsamples defined in the '# Subsamples' field must not exceed the actual number of subsample rows in the Excel file; it must be the same or lower!

How to change the criterion order when subsampling?

When using subsample groups the order of the automatic progress will change according to the groups. First, all criteria of the subsample group #1 will be selected, followed by all criteria of subsample group #2, and so on - disregarding the criteria column order in Excel.

smatrix agroscience Windows

Questions about XML

Where do I find the XML files?

All terms and value ranges used by smatrix are stored in the language-specific XML files Values_lang.xml and Headers_lang.xml. These can be found under C:\ProgramData\smatrix\templates.

ATTENTION: Never edit XML files in the templates folder. Instead, copy the required XML files from the templates folder into the folder C:\ProgramData\smatrix\data and edit these copies. smatrix first retrieves the user's customised XML files from the data folder and only then, if the data folder is empty, reverts to the XML files in the templates folder. 

What editor/programme should I use to edit XML files?

To edit XML files, you need to use an appropriate XML editor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XML_editor). 

We recommend the free programme NotePad++, available to download at the following link: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/download/v7.6.6.html

How can I set my own labels for the headers of ID/criteria columns?

Labels for column headers are stored in the Headers_lang.xml file. Changes in this file only take effect after a restart of smatrix.

The Headers_lang.xml file is divided into five sections:

  1. The topic {#SUBSAMPLES}
  2. The topic {SUBSAMPLE}
  3. The topic {SUBSAMPLEGROUP}
    Sections 1-3 contain the information required for the subsample column, the number of subsamples and the subsample group to be automatically recognised or assigned. Every single subject name within these topics stands for a word that is used by smatrix for automatic recognition or assignment when it appears in an Excel cell (e.g. the word "subsample" is recognised by smatrix and the Excel column with the header "subsample" is automatically configured as a subsample column). Custom subject names can be added to teach smatrix to also search for these specific words in the Excel file and use them for automatic recognition/assignment.
  4. The topic {SAMPLE}
    Each subject within this topic stands for the label of an ID column (e.g. "plot"). The subject name is also used here for automatically assigning a label to an Excel column. Only the first pronounce row is read out by smatrix, but the first and all further pronounce rows can be used by the user as voice commands for navigation.

    ATTENTION: Each (subject) id must be unique! Consecutive numbering is a useful and clear method.
  5. The section for the column headers, which can be divided into further topics. After the initial installation it contains the topics BUILTIN and GENERIC. 
    In this section, topics (corresponding to the "category" in smatrix) with subjects (corresponding to the "criterion" in smatrix) can be created, which are used to label criterion columns. As in 4), the subject name is used for automatic recognition or assignment if it matches the contents of an Excel cell. In addition, the range element can be used to associate a value range with a criterion.

    ATTENTION: Each (subject) id must be unique! Consecutive numbering is a useful and clear method.

How do I create my own value ranges?

Value ranges are stored in the Values_lang.xml file. Changes in this file only take effect after a restart of smatrix.

Each individual value range is represented by a topic. The topic name corresponds to the label that appears in the dropdown menu in smatrix. These topics can contain a generator type:

  1. NUMBER for numeric value ranges with start (from) and end (to) values as well as the number of decimal places (decimals) and increments (by)
  2. DATE for the date, either as a day of the year (format=DayOfYear) or the classic date format DD.MM.YYYY (format=Date)
  3. CODE
    If words or letters are to be entered as values, the topic must contain each individual word or letter as a subject. The subject name corresponds to the content that is inserted into an Excel cell. Each of these subjects can also contain pronounce rows.
    The topic id can be used in the Headers_lang.xml file to associate a criterion with a value range. Therefore, the Headers_lang.xml file should be updated accordingly if the topic id is changed.
    ATTENTION: Each (topic) id must be unique! Consecutive numbering is a useful and clear method.
smatrix agroscience

Questions about language/pronunciation

What languages are supported?

smatrix for Windows is available in German, English (US/UK), French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese (Brazil). With the purchase of a workstation license of smatrix for Windows, a language of your choice is included. Additional languages can be purchased.

Can the same assessment be used in different languages?

Yes, but all IDs, criterion and value ranges for each language must be available in the respective Headers and Values.mxl files.

Can users with an accent or dialect use smatrix?

Yes, smatrix learns to handle the unique qualities of every voice through speech recognition training, which a user completes before the first use. This makes smatrix easy to use for anyone with an accent or dialect or speaking a non-native language.

Where can I find a list of voice commands?

Click on the question mark symbol in the upper right corner.

Can I correct an incorrectly entered value?

Yes, with the voice command "Correction <new value>" the last entered value is replaced by the <new value> (e.g. "Correction 50" replaces the last entered value with 50).

If you use the voice command "Correction" without a new value, the cell where you last entered a value is selected. This value is not deleted but can be overwritten by entering a new value.

Alternatively, you can navigate to a cell directly (e.g. with the voice command "Back"/"Previous", by clicking the cell or by stating the trial unit and trait, e.g. "Plot 10, downy mildew") and then enter the new value.

Does smatrix confirm the value entered/understood?

Yes, with the "Echo" option, smatrix repeats back the recorded value. To toggle this setting at any time, use the voice command "Echo on" or "Echo off".

Does smatrix confirm the current cell position?

Yes, when "Prompts" are activated ("Prompts on"), smatrix will read out the trial unit and the trait of the selected cell each time you move cells (by automatic progress, click or direct voice command).

In addition, you can make smatrix read out the trial unit and the trait of the currently selected cell at any time using the voice command "Where am I?" / "Current position".

Can I dictate comments/notes by voice?

No, but comments can be entered classically by keyboard.

What happens if I want to talk to my colleagues while in the middle of an assessment?

Deactivate smatrix's voice recognition by saying "Pause" or clicking the microphone button.

If you are using a headset with a mute button, press it to mute the headset microphone.

Can two people speak into the same "smatrix device"?

Even if several microphones are connected to one device, smatrix only accepts the input of one microphone. This can be selected in the settings menu under 'Audio' > 'Voice input'.

If two users are to use a single instance of smatrix while completing an assessment, the best solution is for only person A to wear a headset connected to smatrix. Person A enters their own data by voice. Person B calls out their data to Person A, who repeats Person B's data into the microphone to enter it into smatrix. This takes a certain amount of discipline and it means person A has to speak a lot, so we recommend that each person completing an assessment uses their own instance of smatrix.

smatrix doesn’t understand me

This can have various causes:

  1. Check if smatrix is receiving input from the correct headset ('Settings' > 'Audio' > 'Voice input').
  2. Check that the headset is not muted (mute button).
  3. Check that the microphone of the headset is pointing towards the user's mouth.
  4. Check that smatrix is in "Listen" mode.
  5. If you are using a headset with a microphone that has no or inadequate noise cancellation, smatrix may not be able to understand you when there is loud background noise or wind. It is therefore essential to use a headset with noise cancellation and a windscreen (see Headsets).
  6. Check whether the "Barge in" option is activated. If "Barge in" is deactivated, no voice commands can be given or data entered while smatrix itself is reading something out (e.g. the input echo or the current position after cell change). This means you have to wait for smatrix to finish speaking. If you speak too early, parts of your voice command / data input will not be recognised by smatrix, leading to false entries or failure to understand. So please wait for the beep or the voice feedback to end, then speak.
smatrix agroscience Windows

Possible error messages

When opening an Excel file, Outlook starts and smatrix cannot be used - what should I do?

Configure your Microsoft Office or Outlook so that it can be used without an e-mail account.

ATTENTION: smatrix for Windows does not work with Windows 10 S or the Surface version of Microsoft Excel!

Initialisation error in main menu

Make sure a headset or microphone is connected to your device/tablet. Click the Loudspeaker icon on the Windows taskbar and select the correct device. Then restart smatrix. You may need to disable the on-board microphone of your device/tablet in your Windows settings so that smatrix only uses the headset's microphone. Click on 'Sound' in the Windows Control Panel and select the 'Recording' tab of the window that opens. Right-click the on-board microphone of your device/tablet and select 'Disable'.

Error message: "No suitable audio input device found"

Make sure a headset or microphone is connected to your device/tablet. Click the Loudspeaker icon on the Windows taskbar and select the correct device. Then restart smatrix. You may need to disable the on-board microphone of your device/tablet in your Windows settings so that smatrix only uses the headset's microphone. Click on 'Sound' in the Windows Control Panel and select the 'Recording' tab of the window that opens. Right-click the on-board microphone of your device/tablet and select 'Disable'. 

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