Role of Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0

Role of Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0
By Muhammad Zharif

As time goes by, technology continues to evolve and bring convenience in every activity including industrial activities. One of the biggest example of this is the use of artificial intelligence, gene editing, and advanced robotics in industry 4.0. The role of technology in industrial activities concluded that technological developments will continue to have an influence on the industrial world. One of the technologies that are developing at this time is augmented reality (AR).

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory and olfactory. Augmented reality was first achieved, to some extent, by a cinematographer called Morton Heilig in 1957. He invented the Sensorama which delivered visuals, sounds, vibration and smell to the viewer. Of course, it wasn’t computer controlled but it was the first example of an attempt at adding additional data to an experience. Then, his invention continues to be developed until the first properly functioning AR system was developed at USAF Armstrong’s Research Lab by Louis Rosenberg in 1992. This was called Virtual Fixtures and was an incredibly complex robotic system which was designed to compensate for the lack of high-speed 3D graphics processing power in the early 90s. It enabled the overlay of sensory information on a workspace to improve human productivity. The breakthroughs in augmented reality continues until present day.

Augmented reality is achieved through a variety of technological innovations; these can be implemented on their own or in conjunction with each other to create augmented reality. They include:

  1. General hardware components – the processor, the display, the sensors and input devices. Typically a smartphone contains a processor, a display, accelerometers, GPS, camera, microphone etc. and contains all the hardware required to be a an AR device.
  2. Displays – while a monitor is perfectly capable of displaying AR data there are other systems such as optical projection systems, head-mounted displays, eyeglasses, contact lenses, the HUD (heads up display), virtual retinal displays, EyeTap (a device which changes the rays of light captured from the environment and substitutes them with computer generated ones),Spatial Augmented Reality (SAR – which uses ordinary projection techniques as a substitute for a display of any kind) and handheld displays.
  3. Sensors and input devices include – GPS, gyroscopes, accelerometers, compasses, RFID, wireless sensors, touch recognition, speech recognition, eye tracking and peripherals.
  4. Software – the majority of development for AR will be in developing further software to take advantage of the hardware capabilities. There is already an Augmented Reality Markup Language (ARML) which is being used to standardize XML grammar for virtual reality. There are several software development kits (SDK) which also offer simple environments for AR development.

Role of Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0

Augmented Reality have some role in industry based on the applications of AR in some industrial activities. “There are a lot of applications coming up. It’s becoming very popular in the enterprise as well as the industrial world,” said Preet. These are the top four applications of AR in Industrial activity:

  1. Training – every industry needs to train the new recruits. AR is used to create training programs and step by step instructions are given to the trainees. This creates more engaging and interactive training programs.
  2. Remote collaboration – in every industry there are times when workers need to collaborate with a remote expert and with AR it goes a step beyond the usual teleconferencing. The expert is able to guide the worker, and with various AR tools they can draw on the screen and highlight certain areas. So, it enables better collaboration.
  3. Assembly industry – in industries, such as automotive or semiconductor, where all the workers assemble components, they used to rely on paper instructions or remember all the steps. But with augmented reality they are given step by step instructions, simplifying their job.
  4. Warehouse logistics – AR applications are increasingly being used for order pickup in warehouses. So AR applications are basically combining a lot of other capabilities, such as image recognition, barcode scanning, indoor navigation, and everything is being integrated with the warehouse management system.

Companies that utilize augmented reality in Industry 4.0

  1. Thyssenkrupp

Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has digitalized the spatial positioning and quality inspection of components with AR. Through the digitalization, which is based on a 3D design document, thyssenkrupp employees can carry out work with millimeter precision as well as measurements and movements in an AR environment. This makes the process much shorter and more accurate. “We are already using the technology in many areas, and more and more applications are being added: in Kiel, Bremerhaven and Stralsund, both underwater and above water”, explains Lengowski and adds: “Almost every day, we are approached by colleagues who also want to use AR-technology.

Thyssenkrupp uses high precision AR guiding inside their facilities. AR helps on-sight staff to identify components in complex technical setups by providing real-time contextual information. More concrete, AR is being used to guide maintenance engineers through large industrial facilities and help them find and resolve technical issues faster.

  1. Batz

Batz is a technology supplier for the automotive and aerospace industry that is engineering complex machinery for production lines like hydraulic presses. Among their customers are companies like Volkswagen, Airbus and Dyson.

Batz uses AR to improve communication between different teams within the company as well as with their clients. AR is being used to help engineers to have 3D models of machinery available at all times. It also helps technicians on the client-side to resolve issues faster by providing a highly detailed virtual twin of the affected machine in real-size.

  1. TSK

TSK utilizes Augmented Reality to provide visual guiding, geolocated alerts, and maintenance information to the operators of their photovoltaic power plants. Besides providing guidance, AR also helps to prioritize maintenance tasks. The AR application is fully integrated with other software services that are being used within the company.

  1. Unilever

Unilever uses Augmented Reality to organize inspection, repairs, maintenance and cleaning of their production facilities. They use the Onirix Spaces technology, which is based on SLAM(link), for very precise indoor navigation. In order to provide this superior precision, a 3D scan of every location is being created before the system is deployed.


References :,and%20smell%20to%20the%20viewer,and%20resolve%20technical%20issues%20faster,with%20the%20warehouse%20management%20system