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EETE FEB 2016

augmented reality AR browser unveils real world objects’ digital life By Julien Happich During a live streaming conference held in Boston last January, PTC’s president and CEO Jim Heppelmann shared his vision of Augmented Reality for the Internet of Things, two hot topics merged into one to englobe every possible aspects of life, from consumer to medical or industrial applications. Over the last couple of years, the software service provider has made a number of strategic acquisitions to position itself at the forefront of both augmented reality and IoT. Last year, it acquired Vuforia and its augmented reality (AR) technology platform, and in 2014, PTC was acquiring ThingWorx and Axeda, both companies bringing key IoT connectivity and data management solutions. Heppelmann started with a simple demonstration, showing a dull empty automotive dashboard, and suddenly bringing it to life with different sets of digital dials by simply looking at it through a tablet’s video screen. “In the future, with AR goggles, you could bring your personalized dials and dashboard interface in any car you buy” he said, inviting the audience to take a fresh look at things. “Even before AR glasses become commonplace, the explosive adoption of smartphones and tablets is already taking AR to the mainstream”, he noted, “and we need applications to bring value, to augment the analogue world with digital content”. Consumers are mostly exposed to AR through companies’ branding or advertising efforts, but augmented reality will revolutionize the world when we apply it to the enterprise, the CEO said. Heppelmann showcased some interesting examples, such as that of sports motorcycles manufacturer KTM already using AR to speed up service and repairs in the workshop. During a live demonstration, an untrained technician equipped with a tablet looked at a 690 Duke motorbike for which some faults had been reported by a customer. Using a dedicated maintenance dashboard, the technician was able to run a quick diagnostic indicating which parts had to be checked. Turning a dumb surface into an exciting interface with AR. Then, pointing the camera at the real bike, the AR application highlighted the faulty parts in 3D, pointing out their location on the bike while providing guidance for their disassembly and repair. Such an application not only helps technicians make the repair, but it ensures a more consistent service across the enterprise. Machinery maker Carterpillar is another company already making use of AR to help field technicians carry out maintenance and repair. In fact, AR could make any machine servicing more proactive, you could even get real time feedback from objects or from the products being serviced. Augmented reality highlights the parts that will need servicing and how to access them. Combined with predictive data analysis, you could notify the customer that maintenance is required and with such guidance, the enduser could perform the maintenance task himself rather than having to wait for a technician to be dispatched. “Who loves to read user manuals? Who needs them?” asked Jay Wright, Vuforia’s Senior VP and General Manager, “In the future, noone!” he concluded, presenting the future of personal contextual assistants, moving from today’s 2D help screens to 3D augmented reality. The VuMarks designed on the KTM motorbike triggers the AR browser. A caterpillar field technician looking at a machine’s status on predictive maintenance. Then augmented reality takes over to guide the repair technician step by step. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe February 2016 21


EETE FEB 2016
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