Augmented Reality: Breakthrough for Design Engineers or Just Gee Whiz Tech?

Written By: Tiffany Bailey
  • 2/13/2018

As revolutionary new product development technologies go, augmented reality (AR) has to be the least disruptive. You can use it without an enterprise-wide initiative, and your suppliers won’t need expensive new software or adapters to keep up. Best of all, there’s not much training needed to get started.

But don’t confuse simple with trivial.

In this recent interview, PTC’s Principal Education Development Specialist, Matt Huybrecht, talks about the role of AR in product development, clears up some common misunderstandings, even offers a short demo.

Huybreacht quote: AR vs prototyping

Q: Is augmented reality just “technology for technology’s sake”?

Product designers might be thinking, “Yeah, Augmented reality is really cool, but what can it really do for my designs?” Just because the technology is possible, doesn’t mean there’s a use for it. For example, just because you can email the person sitting in the cubicle next to you, doesn’t mean you should do that instead of simply standing up and talking to them.

However, there are benefits to augmented reality. If you want to see your product in the context of the environment it’ll be used in, then AR can definitely do that for you faster and less expensively than building a prototype.

Say you design a water purification system that sits on a table in a laboratory. You’re designing the next generation of that system. After you update the model in Creo, you can create an AR experience and view the current physical system next to the digital AR version of that system.

Then, you can compare and contrast the designs visually and spatially.

Q: What are product designers doing now that AR makes better?

Right now, if someone develops a product, the only real way to see it is by making a prototype. Even if that’s as simple as getting it 3D printed.

With augmented reality, you can skip the expense and time of prototypes in some cases. Obviously, you won’t have a working prototype, but rather a digital representation of the model. However, it provides the opportunity to see your model within the context of the environment it would be used in.

Q: What most surprises product designers about AR, specifically in Creo?

First. Creo includes a free AR component. So, all Creo users have AR features. Now, that’s not the full functionality, but everyone has access to an introductory portion of it.

Second. It’s very easy to create an AR experience using a Creo model. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Open or create the model in Creo.

    3D model of bike

    A 3D model of a bike.

  2. Set up a Spatial Target, and then Publish an AR experience.

    Experience dashboard

    A dashboard shows available AR experiences.

  3. Open the AR experience in the free app.

AR bike experience 

An Augmented reality experience. A digital model of a bike (left) appears next to a physical bike (right).

ThirdIn the latest Creo release, there’s now additional administrative functionality. The administrator of an AR experience can delete experiences and set up restrictions and permissions. So, for example, you can set permissions so only a certain customer can access a certain AR experience. Then, you can delete that experience if you don’t want them to have access anymore.

Learn More at LiveWorx

To hear more about AR, join Huybrecht at LiveWorx 18 in Boston, June 17-20, 2018. Register today.

  • Augmented Reality
  • CAD

About the Author

Tiffany Bailey

Tiffany Bailey is a content writer and editor for PTC. She has more than a decade of experience as a technical writer/editor. And over 5 years of experience writing about mechanical engineering, 3D CAD, and PDM. Her work spans topics like data migration and management, IoT and big data, IT security, additive manufacturing, simulation, and SaaS. She especially enjoys interviewing customers, product managers, and thought leaders to uncover new ideas and innovations.