The augmented reality (AR) market is expected to be worth $75 billion by 2023.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that AR is playing an increasingly important role in manufacturing.
But, before you jump into your own AR project, you’ll need a strategy. And before you start creating a strategy, you’ll need to ask yourself the following questions.
1. Firstly, what type of ‘reality’ are you aiming for?
You may not be aware that there are three types of digital ‘reality’:
Assisted: A handy 2D digital window offering relevant information such as standard operating procedures
Virtual: This is an entirely digital world, where physical reality is represented synthetically
Augmented: Adds digital information to the real world by embedding graphics, text and other synthetic objects within your field of view.
Although we’re focusing on AR today, this first question may reveal that you actually need to head down a different route.
2. What will you take advantage of?
Augmented reality offers lots of fascinating capabilities, but it’s important to identify those that matter the most for your project.
For instance, you may need to visualise information placed in someone’s field of view or instruct them to take specific steps. Or perhaps you want to combine voice commands with AR’s ability to become a human-machine interface, thus replacing the need for computer screens.
3. What senses do you want to replicate?
One of AR’s greatest strengths is its ability to simulate the human senses.
Sight is the most obvious, thanks to AR’s primary function of adding digital elements into one’s field of view. But, you can go further by using sound that’s linked to imagery, thus providing aural feedback for user input.
Touch can play a big role in AR, too, by using haptic feedback to simulate virtual dials and other controls.
4. What hardware will you use?
Augmented reality hardware continues to enter the market at increasingly affordable price points, but it’s important to pick the right gear for your needs.
Head-mounted displays like those found in Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 create immersive 3D experiences, while heads-up displays (HUDs) are often found in automotive applications to overlay navigation and vehicle data on windscreens.
It’s important to note that most companies use AR on mobile devices, with 80% turning to smartphones. However, digital eyewear is also becoming increasingly popular.
5. What platform(s) needs support?
It’s important to consider the endpoint for your AR efforts, which will be the platforms on which the software runs.
Thankfully, device manufacturers like Apple are now including advanced AR capabilities in consumer devices. This is why it’s sensible to develop AR experiences for multi-platform usage while keeping in mind the ability to scale your application if new use cases emerge.
6. What development platform will you use?
At the time of writing, most AR content is custom-coded for demos or one-off applications. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to scale projects of this size.
This is why AR content authoring environments are becoming more popular. They offer drag-and-drop tools that can be used to easily create AR content that can scale and work across multiple platforms.
However, you may benefit from an even easier method of AR content creation by capturing workflows and repurposing them for new workers in training.
It’s important to get the conversation going about AR, before diving in. Augmented reality represents a considerable investment for manufacturers, therefore the answers you can rustle up now will add some substance to your desire to use this exciting technology.