Augmented Reality ‘Experimental’ in the Enterprise

An article appeared on TechTarget addressing the ‘experimental’ nature of Augmented Reality in the Enterprise. The article’s line of thought follows the extent to which Augmented Reality is being adopted in the enterprise, as businesses must work out its best uses, cost versus ROI and user acceptance.

Both Christine Perey, AREA Board member and former Executive Director, and The AREA’s current Executive Director Mark Sage, are quoted in this article.

Issues mentioned in the article include confusion around the difference between AR & VR, which is addressed and the fact that mobile apps are only 1 way to deliver Augmented Reality (others being wearables, smartglasses, head mounted displays and other hands free devices).

The state of the AR Market is touched upon including the industry early adopters. Popular uses are summarised, such as inspections, design reviews and in highly complex environments. The article offers a high level overview for industry decision makers looking for a greater understanding of how Augmented Reality can help in their enterprise.

The AREA also offers a huge range of resources for enterprise users and membership. Do take a look around our website for more information or get in touch!

Safran Acquires Stake in AREA Member Diota AR

The French defence and electronics group Safran announced on 19 September that it had acquired a stake in AREA Member Diota. Diota, also a France-based company, specializes in the development of Augmented Reality software for industrial applications.
A link to Diota’s own press release (which is written in French) can be read here
The company develops and provides Augmented Reality software solutions for aircraft, automotive, oil & gas, utilities and other heavy industries. The company’s solutions are based on a strong R&D foundation designed to address major technological barriers in the field of Augmented Reality. Diota, established in 2009, has focused on implementing AR-based tools which can be used to improve production processes in a variety of heavy industries, including defence.
Other partners include Dassault Aviation and DCNS Group. Diota also partners with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives: CEA). Other industry types in which Diota has an established presence include energy, rail, automotive and the chemical industries. More information about Diota can be read on their AREA member profile here.

$20 Million Fund for Augmented Reality Startups Launched by Razer

A recent article on yahoo.com states how technology giant Razer has launched Zventures, a $20 million investment fund in order to help small startups, including those in Augmented Reality. CEO of Razer, Min-Liang Tan has told Digital Trends that investments will range from $100,000 to $1 million, in a number of areas of technology, amongst those AR.
This is now officially open for any company to pitch.
As a company, Razer has a number of attributes that will benefit those in which it will invest:
• Razer has one of the largest active user bases in the world, targeted more specifically at the ever growing gaming community; they may introduce this audience to the startups they work with
• The company has experience as both a hardware and software company, with the possibility of bringing such knowledge to the startups in which it will be investing. Not only this, they will also be bringing the relationships they have with such hardware manufacturers, and the knowledge of the life cycle of products at retail
• Razer has its own stores, and has partnered with retailers such as Best Buy in the US, and Media Markt in Europe. CEO Tan says that Razer can use its global distribution network, bringing those to the startups they plan on helping
Tan speaks about his excitement for the future of AR, saying how he thinks it will be “large and overlapping industries”. Being equally enthusiastic about investing in VR, CEO Tan says, “we will invest in both areas”.

Augmented Reality Article Roundup August 2016

At the AREA we continually sift through industry publications and blogs on the topic of enterprise Augmented Reality. Some news contains product developments as well as historical and background information about AR. Recently, many have focused on Pokémon Go; here is a roundup of articles we thought may interest our readers:

  1. On the Metavision blog, an interactive history timeline of AR development is shared.
  2. “Enterprise to Drive Augmented Reality Growth,” by Channel News Australia.
  3. Prepare for the AR Workplace: The Tech behind Pokemon Go Will Be in Offices Sooner Than You Think.
  4. AREA member DAQRI gets a mention in this article about their smart helmet for industrial use.
  5. The following article explores how Apple will use technology in the future to secure its long-term growth. Augmented Reality gets a significant mention in its potential to increase iPhone sales. In addition, wearable technology such as smart glasses, which will shape the AR space, will drive further potential for Apple in the future.

Augmented Reality in the Utility Industry

An article in Forbes by Aaron Tilley mentions a number of AREA members. Augmented Reality is expected to be a $100 billion industry by 2020 (ABI Research), with much of the growth occurring in industry. The article focuses on how utilities are using Augmented Reality technology. AREA member Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is conducting a large-scale experiment with global utilities. EPRI is a nonprofit organization funded by the electric utility industry. They hope to have 15 utilities participating and the study will be conducted over 18 months.

The focus is on improving efficiency and reducing the error rate of the workforce. The study is designed to see how the technology could improve efficiency and reduce the error rate of its workforce. Augmented Reality assists field utility workers in maintenance, repair and building. The electric utility business needs to maintain, repair and build massive infrastructure. Speeding up these processes is vital in making efficiency savings considering much of the equipment is expensive, complicated and old.

The article also mentions that EPRI will be using devices from Atheer Air and DAQRI, who are also both AREA members. John Simmins at EPRI is quoted as saying “This technology will be as commonplace as smartphones are now. You’re going to see AR everywhere.”

NGRAIN Android Application Enables Epson Smart Glasses

Extract from an article by Peter Brown for Electronics 360.

AREA member NGRAIN has developed a new application for Android tablets and smart glasses to be used for industrial 3D content creation. The NGRAIN Viewer allows industrial applications such as those operating heavy equipment and assemblies, to explore the use of smart glasses and 3D content without needing to develop proprietary mobile 3D applications. Since the NGRAIN Viewer is open source for Android, businesses can use the application as a starting point to create industrial applications.

The smart glasses used are the Epson BT-300 that can be worn over regular glasses and come with an OLED display. The Viewer provides the source code to bootstrap a 3D application for Android, load 3D content, view animations, play step-by-step tasks and interact with content from NGRAIN’s Producer Pro software.

According to Epson, the biggest barrier to Augmented Reality for smart glasses is the cost of content creation. By using the NGRAIN Viewer, the cost is reduced, which it is hoped will enable widespread adoption. NGRAIN’s member profile can be read here.

Smart Eyewear in the Enterprise Whitepaper

A whitepaper published on AREA Member BrainXChange’s website is available online at the following link. The white paper is relevant for all companies wishing to understand more about the potentials of using smart eyewear in the enterprise, with particular applications in field service, manufacturing and logistics.

Some information that is covered in the short whitepaper can be found below:

• Information about how smart eyewear can be used in the workplace
• Types of applications for smart eyewear in enterprise
• Companies already making use of smart glasses
• How and why smart eyewear provides an advantage over smartphones and tablets
• How smart eyewear can benefit organizations, particularly in field service, manufacturing and logistics
• Smart eyewear integration with ERP systems
• Enablement of hands-free, two-way video communications between workers whether together or working remotely
• How cost and efficiency savings are being made
• According to Forrester Research, 14.4 million US workers will utilize smart eyewear in enterprise environments by 2025
• Gartner forecasts that by 2023, 50% of the organizations that could benefit from smart Eyewear will utilize it

AREA Member BrainXChange’s member profile can be accessed here.

Augmented Reality Already Mature in some Industries

An article on Automation World about Augmented Reality in industry may be of interest to many readers. The article was written about PTC’s LiveWorx event in Boston in June 2016, which marked the official go live of PTC’s Vuforia Studio Enterprise AR platform.

The article suggests that Augmented Reality may be the application that creates the need for enterprises to adopt IoT due to its proven application in industry for example industrial activities such as quality inspection, work instructions and training.

Jim Heppelman, president and CEO of PTC, said “We are pursuing Augmented Reality strongly to connect the physical, digital and human experience. Augmented Reality will completely change everything, from engineering to manufacturing to sales.”

The article highlights how their AR platform is integrated with other company software. At the event, Caterpillar demonstrated their use of AR in providing portable power at construction sites and concert events. It is frequently used for operating data for routine maintenance.

According to the article, members of Index AR Solutions highlighted uses cases for AR in industry: inspection/quality assurance, work instruction, training, workflow management, operations, safety and logistics. Based on 50 pilot projects, work instructions and training are the most mature applications of Augmented Reality. A video was shown detailing how AREA member Newport News Shipbuilding uses AR.

The main concluding point was that rather than savings being minor, enterprises must understand that savings are measuring in at 25 – 90% due to the extent to which processes are speeded up, essentially freeing up cash flow.

Augmented Reality and IoT Changing Workplace Environments

A recent article by Daniel Newman for Forbes, is aimed at companies considering their options over the potential workplace adoption of Augmented Reality; the article stresses how the blend between AR and the Internet of Things is set to alter workplace environments of the future.

The author takes a realistic and logical standpoint by inviting readers to consider life before mobile phones and smartphones not so long ago. Augmented Reality’s ability to enable access to real time data and to streamline processes will not only positively impact internal business processes, but will likely impact external competition. Enterprises are invited to consider how they will be able to secure competitive advantage in their industry by leveraging AR technology.

The author talks through a number of factors for consideration in any company’s assessment of whether they ought to be the first-mover in terms of enterprise AR adoption in their industry: existing resources, speed of technology and barriers to entry. The final advice for companies is to survey their stakeholders as a means of assessing where technology will have the most impact—and to make realistic assessments of current hardware and infrastructure in supporting the new technology.

The AREA is committed to helping accelerate the global adoption of Augmented Reality in the enterprise: if your company is considering introducing Augmented Reality, the AREA provides a range of use cases and a wide range of information and resources to help get you started and make the right decisions.

Samsung Files Contact Lens Patent

A recent research report by Sammobile and Galaxy Club states that mobile giant Samsung has filed a patent in South Korea for a smart contact lens fitted with a camera and image display. The patent was first filed in September 2014 but has only been publicly available recently. This version of Augmented Reality wearable tech could potentially overcome obstacles presented by smart glasses.

The application blue print contact lens designs contain sensors controlled by the blink of an eye in conjunction with processing completed by the wearer’s smartphone via wireless connection to the contact lens. The contact lens would be fitted with a tiny display, a camera, an antenna, and several sensors to detect movement controlled by blinking. Images would be directly projected into the wearer’s eye. The user would be able to complete functions such as taking photographs by blinking.

The patent contains early blueprint designs of the lens, however, there is no evidence that the application has been granted. Google has previously applied for similar patents for ophthalmic lenses that featured flexible electronics including sensors and an antenna, which makes this an unobtrusive wearable to watch for the future.