Augmented Reality Moves from Recreation to Industry

By Protolabs
Tablet with augmented reality app
Scope AR brings live, interactive augmented reality video support to Caterpillar dealers for use in repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining equipment. Photo Courtesy: Augmented Reality News

Mention augmented reality (AR) and you probably think of Pokemon Go—AR as a gaming platform. Yet, as several sources have recently reported, AR functionality is moving beyond games and into business and industry.

Design News cites a report by ABI Research, predicting that AR will grow to a £85 billion market by 2021, with energy, manufacturing, and logistics accounting for the largest market shares. The hope is that AR will prove to be an efficient delivery mechanism for various forms of digital information.

One current example? That same Design News article reported on Scope AR, which announced a partnership in November with Caterpillar to provide live support for Caterpillar dealers in repairing, troubleshooting, and maintaining equipment. Scope AR’s Remote VR technology uses an AR headset (similar to Microsoft HoloLens) or a tablet or smartphone to overlay annotations, 3D models, and contextual cues onto live video.

Another example is OPS Solutions, which deploys AR for manufacturing assembly, training, inspection, and quality control with its Light Guide Systems (LGS), an interactive projection technology.

Still other examples, as Newsweek reports, include:

  • Depth-sensing camera lenses
  • Physical environment mapping systems
  • Heads-up displays attached to cyclists’ helmets that provide them with a 360-degree field of view
  • Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens, which, for now at least, hold the promise of checking email or finding the best route to your destination “with all content delivered straight to our eyes,” as Newsweek muses. “Not a single aversion of our gaze or break in our stride required.”

Finally, even Apple seems to be getting serious about AR. Its augmented reality platform for developers called ARKit, lets app makers use detailed camera and sensor data to map digital objects into 3D space, which essentially lets app designers move beyond simple 2D camera overlays without requiring heavy duty software engineering.