AR Trends 2023: The augmented reality industry is growing together
To offer the manufacturing industry meaningful applications and to use augmented reality technologies on a broad scale, the industry is joining forces. Only mergers of several companies with different expertise can meet the high demands on augmented reality in the future and drive development forward. Read more about how AR supports the industry here.
What do we mean by AR and VR?
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are technologies that can revolutionize the way we perceive and interact with the world. In virtual reality, users are fully immersed in an immersive 3D environment, while augmented reality embeds 3D digital content into the real world. Both technologies have the potential to transform various industries and open up new possibilities for gaming, entertainment, education, healthcare, architecture and industry. With continuous progress, VR and AR are increasingly integrated into our everyday lives and open up exciting perspectives for interactive and visual experiences.
Alongside VR, augmented reality (AR) in particular has made the leap from use in research and prototyping to mass application in industry. Technologies based on augmented reality have long since ceased to be a vision of the future. Applications are successfully used in almost all industrial sectors. The industry is just entering a new phase.
Augmented Reality in Business: From Low-Hanging Fruits to Game Changer – Potential Not Yet Exploited
Initially, AR applications were often initiated by IT departments. In order to prove the usefulness of the technology, they concentrated primarily on low-hanging fruit in development. Proof-of-concept solutions with AR glasses or tablets were comparatively easy to implement. For example, AR glasses and tablets are well suited for scenarios with occasional use, such as quality inspections of parts or assemblies or training scenarios for several employees. The projects achieved attention and created efficiencies. However, they often turned out to be more of a “nice to have” than a “game changer” and companies did not come close to exploiting the potential of augmented reality for the future.
Efficient industrial applications: AR projection systems as an optimal solution beyond AR glasses and tablets
In parallel, assembly departments, for example, were already frequently working with AR projection systems without consciously perceiving them as augmented reality. This technology enables a wide range of application scenarios in industry when AR glasses and tablets reach their limits. After all, a worker in assembly usually needs to have his hands free to complete his tasks. Using a tablet or wearing AR glasses to do this is often not very efficient and significantly restricts the employee and also their ergonomics. In addition, the different focal planes make it difficult to accurately view virtual content and real objects together through AR glasses. Wearing them for extended periods can also lead to headaches or nausea. To meet the demands in series processes in the future, projection systems, such as laser projectors, are therefore simply better suited. They can project data in 3D.
The future of augmented reality in enterprises: From isolated projects to holistic data processes in the cloud
Meanwhile, companies are placing successively higher demands on AR solutions. For example, they no longer view their use as singular isolated projects designed to accomplish a task. Instead, the aim is to create holistic data processes within a company. Part or assemblyinformation, position data or information on process steps should be prepared as automatically as possible in 3D and made available throughout the company for all product variants. To meet these requirements, platforms must be established in the cloud. This is the only way to set up company-wide data processes in the first place and to provide interfaces for data provision to different end devices. In some cases, it is also possible to circumvent the limitations of the computing power of end devices on site, for example when dealing with complex CAD data sets in 3D. For latency-critical computing operations such as image processing, edge computing remains the measure of all things.
Augmented Reality Industry in Transition: Collaborations and Comprehensive AR Solutions for Industry 4.0
Due to these changing industry requirements, the AR industry continues to grow together. In order to serve all needs on both the hardware and software sides, more companies within the industry are entering into project-based collaborations. For example, a manufacturer of laser projection systems is teaming up with a cloud specialist. Together, the companies create comprehensive AR solutions for their customers. This is no longer about individual applications. Whether projectors, tablets or AR glasses: A comprehensive 3D database and cloud-based workloads make it possible to deploy the technologies across the company where they will have the greatest impact.
Only in this way will the industry be able to cope with increasingly complex manufacturing processes. Because even in the future, greater individualization and high-quality demands combined with cost pressure will make advanced augmented reality technologies indispensable. Assembly and quality assurance will probably never be able to do completely without people. However, in order for humans to be able to meet the increased demands on manual activities, they need digital support more than ever.
Production Islands and Augmented Reality: Industrial Assembly in Transition
The so-called Production Islands are an example that illustrates the changing needs of industrial assembly. Traditionally, work in the automotive industry has been strictly timed on the assembly line for a good century. Individual work steps are precisely defined and time limited. To accommodate customers’ extensive individualization requests or the ramp-up of electromobility on existing production lines, manufacturers are increasingly having to remove assemblies from the line for more complex, longer-lasting and, in some cases, particularly safety-critical tasks. AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) are used to transport the parts to the assembly islands. There, they can be processed individually and without being tied to a specific cycle, before being fed back into the assembly line. Vehicle manufacturers can often only manage the complexity of this flexible assembly with the help of AR systems. Augmented reality can also provide comprehensive support in aviation, shipbuilding and rail vehicle construction, where the degree of individualization is high per se.
The merger of the AR industry
To offer the manufacturing industry meaningful applications and to use augmented reality technologies on a broad scale, the industry is joining forces. Only mergers of several companies with different expertise can meet the high demands on augmented reality in the future and drive development forward.