Digital Thread Enables Innovative AR Customer Experiences

Written By: Nancy White
  • 8/5/2020
  • Read Time : 5 min

Each Beneteau yacht is an example of design, engineering, and workmanship. For nearly 130 years, this global manufacturer of luxury boats has built distinctive yachts while creating unique experiences for its customers.

Today, digital transformation is a big part of the evolution of that objective. It’s a journey that this company has taken to heart, executed with a clear vision and innovative technology, and continues to iterate.

The enablement of a digital thread is at the core of Beneteau’s digital transformation strategy. Spurred on by consumer trends like mass customization and increasing product complexity, Beneteau has been working toward streamlining its engineering value chain and the functions within it as part of their digital transformation.

Creating a single source of truth that runs from design, engineering, manufacturing, all the way to the customer experience through functions like sales and marketing, is an ongoing project. Read more about Groupe Beneteau's digital thread implementation, which involves CAD (Creo), PLM (Windchill), IoT (ThingWorx), and augmented reality (Vuforia).

With the foundation of a digital thread, exciting possibilities emerge when other technologies, like augmented reality, are considered. As part of PTC’s ongoing partnership with Beneteau, PTC designed an augmented reality application using Vuforia Engine. Originally brought to life with a full-scale boat on the floor of LiveWorx in 2019, the application was reimagined on a scale model earlier this year to further demonstrate the sales and marketing use case for AR.

Watch the video to get an idea of how the application works:

The application leverages a 3D scale model and uses data from multiple options and variants that are then overlaid on the AR model, offering the user more information about the features. Designed to run on iOS on an iPad Pro or iPhone, a customer looking to make an investment in a boat would be able to get a clear visualization of all the features available and how they would look in real life.

This video contains a proof of concept for an augmented reality experience that allows a customer to visualize different configurations of the product, whether it’s an engine or navigation tools – and has the potential to be leveraged for many different use cases and industries. It can work with the scale model target, or a completely virtual product, for customers to configure and personalize their own custom boat, at home, from their phone.

This AR application also features mixed reality components: the clear blue water, people enjoying the yacht, and birds flying overhead. It puts the viewer right in the mindset of a perfect day on the water. Taking a step further, the AR experience allows users to go inside the boat to get a real feel for the space.

In the new normal amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, augmented reality could be an increasingly valuable tool for manufacturers to more effectively engage with geographically dispersed customers.

Sourcing engineering data for complex products through a digital thread not only gives potential customers a virtual lens into a product’s purchasing features, but also streamlines engineering and manufacturing processes. With the aid of digital thread, product model data is democratized – a game-changer for manufacturers with many different product types and configurations. It informs manufacturing process instructions and with this type of closed-feedback engineering loop, companies can expect long-term benefits, such as improving new product introduction rates, reducing scrap and rework, and fostering enterprise-design collaboration.



  • Augmented Reality
  • PLM
  • Digital Transformation
  • Retail and Consumer Products
  • Digital Thread
  • Digital Transformation

About the Author

Nancy White

Nancy White is a content marketing strategist for the Corporate Brand team at PTC. A journalist turned content marketer, she has a diverse writing background—from Fortune 500 companies to community newspapers—that spans more than a decade.