1What exactly is AR and what is the advantage of this technology?
The big disadvantage of this technologyis the fact that the user is immersed in a virtual environment during use. Interaction with people or objects in the real environment is not possible while using Virtual Reality. The situation is completely different with Augmented Reality. With AR I still see my normal environment, but I get additional information about real objects by fading in virtual elements. The great advantage of this technology is that I not only get information offered and displayed, but that it can also be placed where I need it. For example, if I have assembly instructions on paper, I constantly have to pause my work to look up the next steps in the instructions. When using AR, I get the information about which parts I need to assemble directly in my view field of my lens and I don't have to interrupt my work. In addition, information about screws, the necessary torques or other relevant content.
2In which areas can AR be used well in companies?
AR always creates significant added value where the virtual content can represent scenarios that otherwise only can be realized with great financial or time investment. In the areas of service and training, AR is already being increasingly used today. Service technicians can call up diagnostic information, maintenance instructions and repair guides directly at the machine and receive localized information on what action needs to be taken in each case. This considerably reduces the time required for service and onboarding.
AR is also ideal for planning tasks. For example, I can place virtual objects in real rooms to plan a new production line, an office wing or workshop areas. This allows me to optimize workflows and routes or to carry out ergonomic and safety-related considerations without affecting the current operative business in these premises. In principle, useful AR applications can be found for almost all areas. In my experience, lacks in acceptance tend to lie in the difficulty of thinking into such applications. Therefore, most projects are preceded by an intensive consultation with our customers.
3What hardware is required for AR?
The selection of the right hardware creates an important framework condition. When it comes to AR, most companies immediately think of data glasses, but today the technology can be used with any modern device. Depending on the application, it could be a laptop, smartphone, tablet or data glasses. With a smartphone or tablet I can capture the environment via the built-in camera and display it on the screen with additional virtual content. No additional hardware is required for this, which means that the applications can be made available to many employees at low cost. Of course, data glasses offer additional advantages because I can cover a larger field of vision and do not need to hold a device in my hands when I want to move around the room. However, it is often the simple solutions that already offer significant added value and thus lay the foundation for larger projects.
4What should you do if you want to use AR?
In principle, an AR project should not be implemented in isolation, but must be part of the digitization strategy. I often notice that companies focus too much on individual solutions such as Google Glasses or HoloLens from Microsoft and lose the big picture. Many are interested in the gadget, but don't know how to integrate the devices into a long-term strategy and the project doesn't make it out of the pilot phase. That's why I always start every project with an intensive workshop with the customer to clarify key issues together. What do I want to achieve through digitalized production? What equipment do I need for this? Which tools really add value? Of course, these are not all questions that should be answered in advance, but in fact they are questions to which a satisfactory answer must be found.