ABI research predicts that nearly 10% of industrial smart glasses and VR devices will have a 5G connection by 2026

AR and VR Gaining Momentum in Industry Over Wireless Networks

An article on AVNetwork addresses the growing presence of Augmented Reality in the industrial sector, such as remote machinery operation and smart manufacturing. Cellular connectivity is the preferred option to aid workers using devices in a variety of locations or on the move.

The 5G network is claimed to be the ideal solution for connected Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences, as that allows for extreme throughout, uniform experience, and ultra-low latency.

ABI Research, market-foresight advisory firm that provides strategic guidance on transformative tech, predicts that nearly 10% of industrial smart glasses and VR devices will have a 5G connection by 2026. Marina Lu, senior analyst at ABI Research, is quoted to have said that wearing smart glasses provides a hands-free experience that enables workers to pay full attention to the work that needs doing. AR overlays a digital twin consisting of varying repair instructions based on the worker’s personal requirements on a physical object. Lu is also quoted to have said that continuous connectivity is vital for applications connecting field workers to a remote professional, as they require high-accuracy interaction and, for time-sensitive applications, low end-to-end latency. Devices can provide 4G and eventually 5G networks in remote locations where there is no Wi-Fi to enable connectivity and safety for workers.

The article lists the following connectivity vendors and telcos as those who believe AR and VR are prime use cases for the 5G network:

  • Qualcomm
  • Huawei
  • Ericsson
  • Nokia
  • Verizon
  • SK Telekom
  • Orange

Ericsson has recently used AR troubleshooting at production sites in Estonia, and is expanding to sites in China. Engineers can use this technology to solve complex issues via fault finding data and immediate information sharing, leading to a potential 50% boost in productivity. Also, Xerox Israel has deployed AR in the field to increase remote resolution rates, first-time fix rates, and mean repair time.

Cellular connectivity is also claimed to potentially expand the AR/VR working area. Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) are able to support simple remote devices that lack frequent communication while maintaining energy efficiency; the combination of AR/VR and Internet of Things (IoT) improves the value chain for use in manufacturing. Huawei and Toshiba’s NB-IoT solution is an example of LPWA adoption. Flowserve, a manufacturer and aftermarket service provider of flow control products, uses real-time sensors with AR to predict pump failure, provide exact instructions for repair, and share management analytics.

Eric Abbruzzese, principal analyst at ABI Research, is quoted to have said that the key to improving AR/VR user experiences and integration in the industry market is mobility. Although this places new requirements on network services and structure, it creates new opportunities connecting the product with the factory, and understanding consumers. Abbruzzese is also quoted to have said that for users to receive info at any time and place, and to interact with their environment, ubiquitous connectivity is required, therefore new business models need to be developed to leverage connectivity capabilities.

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