Why Is Augmented Reality Important in Product Design?
Written By: Cat McClintock

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience that enhances the real-world with computer-generated perceptual information.

An augmented reality experience shows digital distribution center on physical show floor.

An augmented reality experience superimposes digital objects to the real world.

You might have seen it while looking for furniture or shoes. With AR, you can place digital products in the real world for a sense of context and scale without ever leaving your house. It’s the ultimate no-risk try-before-you-buy experience.

Gaming, Major League Baseball, museums, tattoo artists—everybody seems to be getting into the AR game lately.

Even product developers.

If you haven’t considered AR for your product development and design projects, Luke Westbrook, Product Manager at PTC, thinks you should. “AR can really help you get feedback when you’re designing things. Others in your ecosystem can see how things are sized, walk around them, and experience your products a lot better than before.”


The CAD designer’s edge

Not coincidentally, product developers have an edge when it comes to AR. That’s because they already create digital models as part of their design process.

“Outside of the CAD world, everyone’s asking ‘How do I get 3D content into the AR world? How do I create the 3D content?’” Westbrook says. “But in the CAD world, we already got it!”

In fact, designers and engineers can typically click just a few buttons to turn their models into AR experiences. They can create a link or an encoded image from the CAD model and email it to stakeholders anywhere.

Taking the headaches out of design reviews

Westbrook continues: “Right now, for design reviews, I'm having to package up a bunch of files or take a bunch of screen shots and share. That takes time and it's also not super informative because the design data is still stuck on a screen.”

But with an AR experience, recipients can see and explore the model, life size, in context, all without needing to open a thick folder of STEP files, or even a seat of CAD software. In fact, they don’t even need to know how to turn on a CAD system.

Imagine sending your ideas to teammates, management, marketing, or customers early in the process. Anyone with email and a mobile device can see it. Typically, they just need to download an app.

EAC conveyor belt augmented reality experience

In this display by PTC partner EAC, a digital conveyor belt appears as part of a physical manufacturing system.

Give AR a try

You can start turning your models into AR experiences today by downloading the free trial of Creo 5.0. With Creo 5.0, you can turn any part or assembly into an experience that anyone can recreate in the physical world.

Download your free trial today!

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Tags: CAD
About the Author Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock edits the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC.  She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years,  working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.