AR And VR: The Next Industrial Revolution?

AR And VR: The Next Industrial Revolution?
By: Industry Today

We contacted experts in the fields of design and manufacturing to explore the potential applications of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in the industrial sector.

Apple’s announcement of the Vision Pro has rekindled interest in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). When considering industrial settings, these technologies have already made significant contributions to manufacturing, maintenance, and training processes. In this article, we will delve into the areas where AR and VR could have a transformative impact on the industrial sector, drawing insights from industry experts.

A Brief Introduction to Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality, often abbreviated as AR, is a technology that overlays digital information or virtual objects, such as images, videos, or 3D models, onto the real world. AR allows users to interact with and manipulate this digital content in real-time, creating immersive experiences through devices like smartphones, tablets, or specialized AR glasses.

On the other hand, virtual reality, known as VR, is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that users can interact with and explore. VR typically involves wearing a headset that displays virtual content and may include additional peripherals like hand controllers or haptic feedback devices.

Applications of AR and VR in the Industrial Sector

In the industrial sector, AR is leveraged to enhance worker productivity and accuracy by overlaying digital instructions, real-time data, and visual cues onto machinery or workstations. This assists in assembly, quality control, maintenance, and troubleshooting, ultimately reducing errors and downtime.

Meanwhile, VR offers immersive simulations for training purposes, enabling workers to practice complex procedures or hazardous scenarios in a safe virtual environment. This helps them acquire new skills, mitigate risks, and reduce costs.

Overall, AR and VR provide innovative solutions that optimize productivity, efficiency, and safety in the industrial sector. Here are five examples of their applications:

  1. Factory Layout Planning: AR and VR can revolutionize factory layout planning by providing immersive and interactive experiences of a factory before construction begins. AR allows designers to overlay digital models onto physical spaces, facilitating visualization of equipment and layouts within the factory environment. VR, on the other hand, enables stakeholders to virtually explore and interact with the planned layout, facilitating collaborative decision-making.
  1. Operator Training Simulation: AR and VR offer valuable training simulations for operators. AR provides real-time, contextual information overlaid on physical equipment, guiding operators through complex procedures. VR creates immersive environments for practicing various scenarios, improving skills and preparedness.
  1. Real-time AR Instructions: Through wearable AR devices or mobile apps, workers can receive real-time instructions, safety guidelines, or equipment specifications overlaid on their field of view, enhancing precision in complex tasks.
  1. Remote Maintenance: AR and VR transform remote maintenance by allowing technicians to collaborate with experts from anywhere. AR provides live video streaming with virtual instructions, reducing travel costs and downtime. VR simulations allow for safe, controlled troubleshooting and repair.
  1. Safety Alerts and Evacuation: AR and VR play crucial roles in safety alerts and evacuation procedures. AR offers real-time safety alerts and guidance, while VR simulates emergency scenarios, enabling individuals to practice evacuation procedures and identify potential issues.

The Future of AR and VR in the Industrial Sector

To gain further insights into the current state and future potential of AR/VR in the industrial context, we consulted experts in design and manufacturing. Here’s what they had to say:

Charles Goin of Goindesign likened the current state of AR and VR in the industrial sector to where Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) were a decade ago. He highlighted the need for hardware advancements to realize their full potential. Robert Jones, a Manufacturing Engineer at Nissha Medical Technologies, emphasized the potential of AR for training and remote maintenance in manufacturing.

These examples represent only a fraction of the possibilities that AR and VR offer in the industrial sector. As these technologies continue to evolve and improve, new applications and use cases are emerging, enhancing how we interact with industrial environments. As AR technology becomes more compact and wearable, it is expected to become even more accessible and integrated into existing workflows, ultimately revolutionizing industrial processes.