Driving Value in the Enterprise with AR
As enterprises grapple with the reality of demand pulls and cost pushes of digital transformation, they are now realising the cost and operational benefits of AR, says Raviprashant Yadav.
QuEST Global Company
To save time and money in travel through real-time access to information presented in the form of 3D enhancements, text and videos.
Augmented reality (AR)
Even at the threshold of a new decade, technology surprises us with tremendous possibilities. Take the case of Augmented Reality (AR), a term coined by Boeing researcher Tom Caudell in 1990. What AR uniquely represents – the simultaneous existence of the digital and the physical worlds and therefore, the morphing of two distinct identities – is a tinderbox of explosive innovative potential. Like every other innovation, AR was born not merely as an expansion of the realm of human scientific endeavour, but as an instrument to gain military and economic power. The AR we know today was invented as far back as 1968; what has brought it out of the laboratory and the field of consumer tech is the convergence of hardware and software capabilities at a furious pace over the past few years has made the technology ‘enterprise ready’.
While there are immense possibilities of leveraging AR in the enterprise setting, predictive maintenance and training form the most significant chunk of use cases at present. In areas like healthcare, manufacturing, energy and telecom AR has drastic impact on device installation and maintenance costs – by projecting technical manuals over the physical instrument, the maintenance technician is able save time and money in travel through real-time access to information presented in the form of 3D enhancements, text and videos.
Let us now examine the potential for AR in the four industries cited above:
Time critical sectors like healthcare have enormous opportunities to exploit the potential of AR. With increased sophistication in healthcare services – diagnostic and preventive, varied stakeholders in the hospital set-up face challenges in mitigating the complexities of equipment use and maintenance:
For Biomedical engineers and technicians
- Need to refer manuals for performing small activities and address basic issues. Manuals may also tend to get misplaced and are separate for each equipment
- In most hospitals, there is no direct training provided. These specialists are expected to resolve issue based on experience, and
- Contacting support, ordering consumables is often a hassle and time-consuming.
For nurse anesthesiologists
- No formal training on the equipment, lack of immediate support and access.
- Job demands the needs with different machines make, model and technology, and
- Need to rely on technicians and biomedical engineers to resolve the issue.
For service personnel
- Organising care delivery, tracking and reporting is a hassle, and
- Need to struggle through multiple technical manuals, make multiple site visits and involve experts to attend the site.
For equipment sales/marketing personnel
- Non-availability of physical machine for demo purposes. Brochures are not interactive and engaging.
Because of the above challenges faced by the stakeholders, any maintenance delay that leads to machine-downtime or insufficient expertise that prevents speedy resolution can result in risk to patients’ lives.
How AR can help?
A step-by-step deployment of an AR application in the hospital setting, beginning with a proof of concept, feasibility study, full-fledged app development and deployment with content access to all stakeholders can result in as much as 30% reduction in equipment.
For manufacturers in high precision industries like consumer goods, the increasing complexity of engineering and technological innovation creates the need for periodic workforce training. However, enterprises have always struggled to deliver training modules that fully translate to better understanding on the field – workers are unable to grasp the internal functioning of the equipment due to lack of access to hidden parts. There is also limited avenues for trainees to self-study and rehearse machine operations.
How AR can help?
Through an AR application, with the help of a service provider, enterprises can design training programme that can create an immersive experience where trainees benefit by the ‘mixed reality’ scenario. The app allows them to remain connected to the reality of the machine in their midst and yet are able to view the internal parts and functioning through digital enhancements like 3D videos, interactive text and voice based instructions. The immersive classroom training experience allows teams of workers to visualise a field equipment without having to travel to the site. With anytime, anywhere data accessible on tabs and smartphones, they can also access self-help digital material for reference.
In high-risk sectors like Oil and Gas, using smart glasses as part of the AR experience can increase the safety and efficiency of operating equipment like a welding machine. As Oil and Gas industry expands the use of AR, using tablets and smartphones can be a hassle, as it is not a hand-free experience. This reduces the effectiveness technology use for remediation.
How AR can help?
By enabling the digital twin (IoT and AR), a voice enabled smart glass application can facilitate technicians with navigational commands - voice based inputs that display various options on the smart glass which help in equipment control and repair. Data commands on the smart log can also past and present logs of welding operations. Use cases demonstrate as much as 30% increase in speed of resolution and 70% reduction in inefficiency due to ease of technology access with voice commands.
Server maintenance in base stations of telecom towers is a daunting operation, requiring application of higher-level skills and quick response time. However, enterprises in the sector battle with low efficiency of field workers in tasks like installation, trouble shooting and maintenance, as these technicians have to constantly connect with back-end experts over multiple calls to diagnose and fix issues. Companies also incur high costs for training and travel to resolve site incidents.
How AR can help?
- Customised AR applications can provide visual guidance for troubleshooting issues during migration and installation use cases
- 3D and 2D content creates better illustrations of procedures
- The design and development of AR based Content Management System can new content to field worker’s device:
- Assist them with installation and maintenance of equipment
- Show digital animations to visualise the steps, and
- Support for multiple media formats – 3D animations, videos, PDFs.
Through these interventions, AR experience delivers higher efficiency on part of the field technicians, with significant reduction in calls to backend experts.
Today, in the wake of Industry 4.0’s dictum ‘change or perish’, as enterprises grapple with the reality of demand pulls and cost pushes of digital transformation, they are now realising the cost and operational benefits of AR. It is no wonder then that the market potential for AR is thriving – a forecast from Grand View Research hints that AR is expected to be a $ 100 billion industry by 2024, with IoT, wearable technology and smartphone adoption steering the growth. Another research from ARTillry Intelligence hints that at 48%, enterprise AR will be the largest subset of enterprise revenue – slated to boom from $671 million in 2017 to $29.6 billion in 2022, an astounding 113 per cent compound jump in annual growth rate. The need of the hour to harness this important technology is a mind-set change and agility on part of the leadership to enable enterprise transformation within their organisations.
He is the Director – Augmented Reality at Mobiliya, a QuEST Global Company. As a tech leader with 14 years of experience in Mobile, Desktop, Web based software development, Raviprashant’s main focus areas include strengthening core development functions, product innovation, and differentiation around AR/VR/MR space.