AR enables users to visualize real-world objects with useful information by the way of visual cues. This information is displayed as an overlay which can help users make decisions or gain a better understanding of systems. A well-designed AR system is one in which the type of information is well thought out and is overlaid on top of real-world objects, thereby helping users take decisions faster and in a more efficient way. AR functionality is achieved using a specialized mobile camera or with an external apparatus to a mobile device. In an AR system, anything that is viewable from the camera becomes a digital object which can be inspected or moved around. This gives a way to some interesting scenarios to emerge such as the ability to measure and move these virtual objects.
When it comes to providing AR capability from mobile devices, Apple is the leader with its latest iPad Pro equipped with a LIDAR scanner. Microsoft coins a combined term called Mixed Reality to cover AR and Virtual Reality. This is achieved through specialized AR headsets.
Use Cases of AR in Asset Maintenance/ Field Service:
- Training personnel: Today AR is used extensively in training by simulating interaction with real equipment. A trainee can interact with a 3D model of equipment & perform a multi-step action to complete an activity.
- Remote Consulting: Shared AR experiences between a technician and a remote consultant can be leveraged to fix an issue in equipment. The technician & the consultant will be interacting with the exact same view of the equipment with its surroundings. In such a shared AR setup, the consultant can annotate a piece of machinery, thereby guiding the technician to specific targets without any ambiguity.
- AR Help Manual: Operating instructions can be virtually overlaid on a piece of machinery which when viewed through an AR camera, gives the user instant access to the specific information that he/she wishes to work with. No more sifting through the manuals to find the right set of instructions. There can be pre-recorded videos that can be mapped to real-world equipment & can be played upon scanning through the AR camera. This makes the support easily available for an end-user.
- AR Measurement: AR provides simple measurement functions and conversions between various measuring units. This can be used in an inspection scenario to scan an object for its dimensions. One of our customers, a rope manufacturing company, uses AR to measure the length of the rope prior to its inspection. This measurement aspect can also be used in assessing the quality of a finished product in terms of its dimensions or preset limits for size and shape.
- Overlay additional information: Contextual information can be virtually overlaid on equipment so that when a user scans the same using the AR camera, he/she gets a complete overview of the equipment in question. In this case, the user is not just looking at equipment but also the data associated with it which helps make faster decisions. This information can be related to the performance, previous readings, critical information such as whether it’s due for service, and so on. Users can be made aware of all this information whenever they take a new reading.
- Planning the floor area for equipment installation/movement: Augmented Reality can help visualize the available space more easily without physically moving the equipment. Given the available floor area, you can mix and match various equipment arrangements to come up with an optimum solution satisfying your requirement. This saves time and improves accuracy in planning for things such as new equipment assembly/disassembly or moving equipment between locations.
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