In conditions where Augmented Reality visualization is unsuitable (e.g., bright light, sight-impaired user), auditory and haptic AR experiences could be valuable to enterprises. However, such conditions are rare by comparison to environments in which visual AR is the most intuitive and graceful approach for presenting data on the real world.
For digital assets that are composed of 3D models, devices must be able to render 3D models in real time. Most mobile platforms designed for gaming have such support built in but may not be sufficiently powerful for enterprise use cases. Extra memory may also be required to manage large graphics in a personal display.
Dedicated or Personal Displays
Displays can be personal or dedicated to a task or workplace. A display that is dedicated to a task or workplace can be used by several workers (shared display). A flat-panel display mounted on a brace or “arm” is sometimes preferred when users are observing a target from the same angle with respect to the AR experience target, such as in a showroom. Another option is to use projection AR, where a light beam projected on a surface adapts to the object. This can be effective, particularly when the light in the space is low and can be controlled. Projection AR is most suitable when the target is stationary with respect to the projectors. Personal displays can be held in a user’s hands (e.g., a smartphone or tablet); however, these are inconvenient since they do not provide hands-free usage.
Hands-free personal displays for AR are usually worn by the user on the head (head-mounted displays). For this reason, it is very important to evaluate the weight of the device and whether it is suitable for the length of time the user will be wearing it. Furthermore, some head-mounted displays can be used with corrective lenses, while others cannot. Some have latency, which can cause user dizziness. Some head-mounted displays have only wired connections to a computer, making them unsuitable for use in most enterprise and industrial settings where users must sometimes move away from the computer that is rendering graphics and performing computational processing. A connection to video out on a smartphone or tablet is a possible option for eyewear that does not have its own processing and other sensors. Audio input and output should also be considered. If the AR experience can be supplemented with voice annotation, then earbuds or headphones tethered to the same system are necessary. Head-mounted displays can be monocular or binocular. Some head-mounted displays for AR use video see-through technology, meaning that (as with a smartphone or tablet) the user views a processed image of the real world combined with digital data, but not the real world directly. For head-mounted displays, optical see through (transparent lenses) is the preferred technology. Within the optical see-through, head-mounted display segment of products, there are differences in the optics used. The AR developer should study the types of optics and determine which are suitable for the environment. For example, some optics are sensitive to ambient light (the augmentation is not bright enough in natural light). Others have only gray-scale support. Still others do not have support for 3D (everything appears at the same distance with respect to user’s focal point).
Another technology that is important to consider with hands-free displays is the user interface/interaction. Some have support for voice control. Other systems rely on user input through a smartphone. Finally, some use gesture or gaze tracking. See the article on enterprise AR interaction technologies for more.