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Concurrent Engineering Blog

Augmented Reality in Engineering - 3 Technologies to Look Out For in 2017

Posted by Emma Rudeck on 02-Nov-2016 15:00:00



Developments in augmented reality have opened up the potential for the types of products that engineers can be produced. So much so that nowadays, even household items don’t just exist in the physical world but in the digital world too.

However, it’s not just the products themselves that have been influenced by augmented reality, but the engineering and manufacturing processes that make them. In 2016, augmented reality’s ability to merge the digital and physical world into one has proved highly beneficial for engineers and manufacturers alike. So what developments should the industry be on the look-out for next year?

Bringing 3D models into the real world

Augmented reality may soon provides engineers with the opportunity to bring their CAD models into the real world by using 2D software data and a mobile device.

This new technology uses real-world ‘targets’ (usually a printed QR code) which, when scanned by the mobile device, produces an on-screen 3D model in situ, allowing the user to inspect the device from all angles as if it was there is real life.

This may prove particularly useful for the maintenance, assembly and disassembly of parts, as not only can the mobile devices show the real-time analytics of the part but provide a 3D reconstruction of their assembly and disassembly.

Therefore, this technology won’t only be useful in the simulation and analysis of parts, but in their construction and maintenance too.

Head-mounted displays

Augmented reality also has the potential to assist construction and maintenance through its use in head-mounted displays. By using the technology in a pair of glasses, users can look directly at digital models whilst they are working on them. This means that data for a part is available on-site, as they are working on it, right in front of their eyes.

Users may also soon be able to bring up a set of instructions or a manual pdf up into their glasses screen as they’re working on a part. This means that they have all the information they they need as they need it, allowing them to work more efficiently and, in the case of big fixes, reduce manufacturing downtime.

Digital Twins - a new form of prototype

Colliding the digital and physical worlds together may soon be the new method model prototyping. The technology will allow users to see prototypes work and move in the real world. By attaching sensors to a prototype, augmented reality technology allows engineers to track analytics in real time.

For example, a real-life prototype may have sensors attached to the frame which can provide data about the stress that’s being put on the frame as the engineer watches it move in the real world. Being able to analyse a product’s performance in real time through a combined digital and real experience will mean that adjustments can be made quickly and the prototype can be tested easily and accurately several times before it is manufactured.


Augmented reality - what are the possibilities for 2017?

Augmented reality is opening up new opportunities both for the types of products that engineers can make and the processes that they use to produce them. The possibilities for using this technology stretch into both manufacturing and engineering; from analytics and prototype testing to construction and maintenance and may soon become more commonplace tools in the industry’s workspaces.

Photorealistic Rendering