The future of intelligence – Transforming Industry through AR

Augmented Reality (AR) has been in vogue for the last couple of years. Its evolution is entering into an interesting space through Industrial AR. People generally perceive AR as just an overlay of digital objects in a real-world scenario, but it is a plethora of potential applications… (Featured image is intended for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa2explore/31803939355/)

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Augmented Reality (AR) has been in vogue for the last couple of years. Its evolution is entering into an interesting space through Industrial AR. People generally perceive AR as just an overlay of digital objects in a real-world scenario, but it is a plethora of potential applications that can dramatically change the way work is done in big enterprises.

Consider a machine in a manufacturing company that is non-operational due to defects. An engineer with AR headsets carefully scrutinizes various components of the machine. The AR headsets blend the digital data over the machine’s components and display the status of each component/ part in the field of view of the engineer. The engineer can identify faulty components in the machine via this data. Following this, the AR headset may display instructions to the engineer to rectify/ replace the faulty component. Imagine the saving of time, effort and money via such technology!

When an AR-enabled smart device is aimed at a car’s tyre, it displays the air pressure in the tyre; when the user aims the device at the car’s engine, a virtual layout of various parts of the engine is displayed and a jam in the fuel pump is revealed. The overlayed layout can also display procedures to change the fuel pump. Doesn’t this sound amazing?

Let’s now understand how the merging of the digital and real world happens.

Source: HBR.org

AR enables information delivery to user devices such as mobile phones, smart glasses, and smart helmets via the cloud. This can be useful particularly in processes such as repairing and servicing of products and manufacturing. The use of AR in such fields can help reduce rejection of products, thereby saving time, efforts and money.

Application Areas

Some of the application areas in which Industrial AR is currently used are shown below:

Some interesting patents in the Industrial AR space

Daqri Inc., an industrial AR company, filed a patent US9412205B2 describing an AR device that identifies a sensing device using images captured with a camera. The device uses the visual data to map and display the AR content on the display.

US9412205B2 – The diagram on the left shows a method performed by an AR-enabled device to extract data, and the diagram on the right portrays a display of the analog device with the range identified and overlayed on the display by the AR device.

Another patent US9536355B1, filed by Daqri, relates to the industrial usability of AR Device such as HMD. It scans the environment, maps machines and determines the thermal data associated with each component of the machine. If any component has a thermal data exceeding a certain threshold, the AR device augments the display with an alert notification. The AR device also provides the user a step by step correction procedure to bring the machine component under normal temperature range. The algorithm given below discloses the same.

US9536355B1 – the above diagram shows a method to identify thermal anomalies and display notifications on a screen

The two charts shown below identifies the top 20 patent holders and the patent filing trend in the AR space; Microsoft is the patent leader followed by Magic Leap, Qualcomm, and Sony.

Top 20 Patent Holders

Patent data for active patents and applications
Source: Innography

Patent Filing trend in the AR space.
Source: Innography

Technology Today

There is a stark increase in appetite for AR Glasses for industrial use among market leaders such as GE, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Boeing. Boeing assays the AR-based solution in their manufacturing plants. The company has tested industrial AR solutions to connect wiring from the cockpit to different parts of its aircraft.

Volkswagen is using the Industrial AR technology for product development, enabling 10 times faster processing rates. Logistics giant DHL is using this technology to enhance the efficiency and accuracy of the consignment process, and the use of Industrial AR has led to fewer errors, more-engaged workers, and productivity gains of 25%. Other companies including Xerox, Iconics, AZEK, IKEA, KPN and the U.S. Navy are using the Industrial AR glasses in different applications, and use of the AR technology has led to better productivity, improved quality and decreased cost.

Future Trends

Industrial AR is the next important thing for enterprises, and they are investing heavily in this space.

Industry-wise percentage anticipating substantial investments in three years

An IDC report states a significant growth in AR headset unit shipments worldwide (in millions) in next three years as shown below.

In the near future, there will be a massive increase in demand for Industrial AR. Companies will use AR not only to increase the productivity of their employees but also help the human resource department in training and development. AR will help the industries provide more competitive and efficient production lines than ever.

(Featured image is intended for representational purpose alone and has been sourced from https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa2explore/31803939355/)

Ravinder Kumar
Ravinder Kumar

Ravinder is a technology enthusiast who shares a keen interest in state-of-the-art technologies used in electronics gadgets. When not making melodies on the keyboard, simpler things like relaxing, shopping and traveling nearby places keeps him occupied.


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