Lately, there has been a lot written up about Augmented Reality (AR), or shall we say Mixed Reality (MR)? It seems that MR is the preferred term, going by Microsoft’s latest announcements as well as messaging from other technology providers. So, we wanted to do our own fact check. We were especially interested as the Use Cases that are being promoted for MR such as Remote Assist, Field Service, Asset Maintenance, Warehouse Management, Training, and Knowledge Transfer are indeed the ones Unvired has been building mobile apps for. In fact, we built an app for Google Glass that integrated with SAP when MR was not even an invented term. Therefore, for us, MR is a natural extension of mobile apps –on mobile devices as well as smart glasses.
Hence, we set about on a quest—to find the reality of Mixed Reality. We wanted to see the state of the Art and the real adoption rate among customers. Here is what we found:
AR/MR Technology Platforms:
- Apple ARKit and AR Glasses expected in the next year or so
- Google ARCore
- Vuforia Chalk and other products (from PTC)
- Microsoft: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on Hololens, iOS, or Android devices
- Microsoft: Dynamics 365 Guides that is an MR application for HoloLens that lets Operators learn procedures during the flow of work
- Epson Moverio: Smart Glasses
We got a Mixed Reaction here (pun intended). Two of our customers were very enthusiastic about hands-free smart glasses for Asset Inspections. On the other hand, another customer stated that while the C level Executives were excited about MR, the Field Service technicians were perfectly happy with the mobile apps they were using.
We recommend that customers test the waters before they make the big leap towards MR. A good path could be to deploy AR/MR apps on their mobile devices before they venture into smart glasses. The advantage here is that there is no cost of additional hardware as most customers already have mobile devices and are using mobile apps for similar Use Cases. Then, one can extend these to MR. For example, one of our customers in the United States deployed a mobile app to perform Asset Inspections. As a part of this app, we leveraged both Apple ARKit and Google ARCore to measure rope lengths which were a big benefit as it is very cumbersome to measure rope lengths physically. Now, they are interested in possibly innovating with hands-free smart glasses that enabled remote collaboration.
Customers that are Microsoft centric and early adopters may want to explore HoloLens 2. For those interested in Remote Collaboration/Assist, PTC is offering free use of their Chalk product for mobile devices till August 31, 2020.
There are various options for customers and partners to begin their AR/MR journey. All trends predict that this technology will only increase fast in the near future. Stay tuned for more of our thoughts as we dive deeper into the reality of AR/MR.