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Augmented reality provides a change of perspective for manufacturers

Augmented reality, which enhances the physical world with digital data and images, could make industrial repairs easier.

Augmented reality adds digital imagery and data to supplement views of the real world, giving users more information about their environments. That's a step beyond virtual reality, which attempts to simulate reality. Smartphones and tablets, with their crisp screens and built-in cameras and motion sensors, are popular platforms. Head-mounted displays continue to emerge, especially where hands-free operation is essential. 

The buzz: Gee-whiz consumer uses -- such as scanning objects with a smartphone to pull up product specs and prices -- grab tech-news headlines, but industrial applications aren't hard to find. Complex or high-risk field repairs are a common use among early adopters: Hold a tablet over an oil-pipeline valve -- a schematic hovers over the nuts that need tightening and shows how they should line up, and the system lets headquarters know the job was done. Juniper Research predicts augmented reality will grow tenfold by 2019, to $2.4 billion in revenue.

The reality: An offshoot of the so-called Internet of Things -- sensors are essential for capturing user movements and environmental data -- augmented reality is coming more from geeky startups than established players, though Intel, Microsoft and Qualcomm have projects under way. Juniper expects businesses will have to do lots of customization to make the technology work for them; it also cites a lack of security and privacy standards. And then there's occupational safety. A worker could find an augmented view getting in the way and then trip -- reality's way of reminding us it's still boss.

Augmented reality


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What do you think the hype and the reality are regarding augmented reality?
I think the article was pretty spot on about the hype and the reality. Initial forays will be along the lines of Word Lens, that focus on a specific subset of fairly static elements, such as words, images, or buildings, and that fluid, complex, dynamic overlays will come much later. I also suspect that many of the advances will come from, or be driven by, the gaming market, as they strive to deliver a more immersive experience for the players. I think that the hype is that it will be a flawless, expansive, truly immersive experience from the start.
VR has many applications for gaming and filmmaking. Eventually, medicine and architecture and training and a host of other uses, too. But I suspect we're a long way from adoption. The technology is still rough, the immersion less than ideal.

Users expect the Holodeck (albeit with a headset), they get a slightly more interactive 3D experience.
I can see industrial repairs being a good use of augmented reality, as are navigation and translation. Using your phone’s camera, Word Lens is already able to translate from and to multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Russian, as well as reverse words and erase words.
This will reduce the training cost of service engineers and will enable inventory reduction and reduce downtime
Finally we have a tool for the lone Field technician who has to face
unpredictable scenarios on the ground with fast changing equipment models - I am sure this will bring the best in the industry marrying tribal knowledge & OEM knowhow.
Virtual reality will be replaced with Augmented reality. There has always been a push for the real environment to have digital overlays with whatever our minds can think of. Patients have already been secured for AR with geo-fencing.
Patent..... I guess our phones need to learn how to spell first.

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