The term “Augmented Reality” (AR) was coined at Boeing a quarter of a century ago. Today, the easiest way to explain AR is to refer to Pokémon GO. Niantic’s mobile game was released in July 2016 and has been downloaded more than 500 million times. Pokémon GO is not the first AR game, but it represents a breakthrough of AR technology. Augmented Reality is sometimes confused with Virtual Reality (VR). Whereas, AR layers virtual enhancements upon existing reality, VR is a virtual simulation or recreation of a real life environment.
Both AR and VR have significant potential to influence manufacturing industries, but the former more so, as it is more connected to the physical world. The AR technology can be delivered through smart eye wear (e.g. Google Glass), mobile computers (e.g. smart phones and tablets), or through projector technologies. In any case, AR requires a proper 3D CAD model of the product and the supporting AR software.
Its potential is perhaps greatest within these three areas:
- Error prevention
For example, one recent reported example from Boeing is the use of Google Glass to assist aircraft wire harnessing. Bosch offers its Common Augmented Reality Platform (CAP), which can find many applications including maintenance. The technology is an app-based augmented reality not that far away from how Pokémon GO works. Airbus has used AR for several purposes in their manufacturing facilities under the label Smart Augmented Reality Tool (SART) . According to Airbus, the introduction of AR has reduced inspection times in some cases from 3 weeks to 3 days.