AI and Machine Learning

Leveraging augmented reality wearables on the plant floor

Augmented reality (AR) wearable technology can provide workers and companies real-time information about conditions on the plant floor to make everyone safer.
By AIA January 3, 2020
Courtesy: CFE Media

Augmented reality (AR) used to be an expensive technology that required custom-made equipment. But even the average consumer can now use an AR app on their smartphone to display information about their surroundings. Once thought of as a novelty entertainment, augmented reality is fast becoming a useful tool across a wide range of industries.

Unlike virtual reality, which is a totally computer-generated environment, AR adds information to a user’s surroundings. It can provide data like a heads-up display when driving, overlay visual data on a patient during surgery, or provide instructions to a manufacturing employee.

Powerful and cost-effective processors and sensors offer more opportunities for integrating augmented reality into the routine of the average worker. The computer vision systems behind AR are now able to analyze environments and provide feedback in real-time. Devices that incorporate this technology and are meant to be worn by a worker are referred to as “wearables.”

Benefits and Applications of AR

AR technology helps workers to improve in areas of efficiency, consistency, repeatability, and safety. It can be used for all workers, no matter the language they speak or their physical capabilities. Augmented reality helps workers make the right decisions repeatedly. The AR system can direct workers to the right place and have them perform the right task at the right time.

Augmented reality isn’t just limited to the technical or manufacturing industries. It can also provide value in areas such as sales & marketing and telecommuting. At tradeshows and events, sales teams are using AR to connect with their audiences. Implementing AR solutions to tell stories engages consumers and offers them an experience they will remember.

Many businesses have discovered the ways that telecommuting can boost worker productivity. Technologies like videoconference, cloud-based file storage, and other collaboration tools have enabled even more employees to work remotely. AR can be used to transform a remote employee’s workspace into a venue for team collaboration.

Visual input enabled wearable technology

Visual input enabled wearable (VIEW) technology can improve worker productivity and job satisfaction thanks to AR-enabled wearables. The technology is especially useful in pick-and-place scenarios, where workers can keep their hands free and their eyes focused on the task at hand.

Computer vision can identify relevant objects and direct the worker to them via a handheld or heads-up display. The worker easily identifies where to focus their attention and the AR system reinforces the correct decision. The learning curve is short as workers can easily interact with devices through voice and visual instructions.

This article originally appeared in Vision Online. AIA is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, associate editor, CFE Media, cvavra@cfemedia.com.


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