PTC Academic Summit: Using Augmented Reality to Build a Digital Twin Robotics Laboratory
Written By: Delaney McDevitt
7/3/2019 Read Time : 4 min

Undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien have built a digital twin of their robotics laboratory under the direction of Professor Horst Orsolits, MSc. Using these models and the associated data, students are able to simulate what is happening on the factory floor. During the PTC Academic Summit, Professor Orsolits presented on the methods and uses of these digital twins in his coursework and research.

At the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien in Vienna, Austria, Professor Orsolits teaches undergraduate and graduate students in an industry-oriented environment. The university has a miniature factory laboratory called the “MiniFab-Lab.” This lab provides students with the opportunity to implement IoT and AR in projects and assignments in collaboration with and in support of industrial companies.


“At UAS Technikum Wien, we want to show students the potential of new technology by taking them from their comfort zone to the learning zone and then to the growth zone," Professor Orsolits, MSc. 

Using PTC ThingWorx, Vuforia Studio, and Creo in the MiniFab-Lab

Professor Orsolits began teaching IoT with PTC’s ThingWorx and AR with Vuforia with the goal to introduce students to the PTC platform, put them in the position to create a project with an IoT and AR solution, then present to an audience and show how it creates value. The majority of this work takes place in the MiniFab-Lab. The hands-on work with real-life intelligent manufacturing systems gets students to think before they act when they’re given a problem-solution scenario. Along with ThingWorx and Vuforia Studio, students were also using Creo to create computer-aided design solutions and models.

The PTC suite helps “students to collaborate from wherever they are to show how the future workforce will be with the power of collaboration using a common platform,” said Professo Orsolits. The PTC suite supports the collaborative workflow of the MiniFab-Lab and correlates with the mission to create an industry-oriented environment for the students.

Building a Digital Twin

To integrate AR into the lab, the students used PTC software to build a replica of the robotics laboratory. Building the digital twin of the lab helped Professor Orsolits and his students advance their goal to use real-time data for the robots and allowed them to make simulations of the behavior of the robots in the lab. The hope is that one day the digital twin will function so that, “when someone from Vienna is making an update, you can see it wherever you are in live data,” said Professor Orsolits. This concept of a digital twin of the actual integrated industrial mobile robot lab using AR, allows students the ability to show in 3D using live data what’s happening in the factory to anyone, anywhere in the world.

The Benefits of AR in the Lab

Augmented reality in the MiniFab-Lab is cost-effective, interactive, and offers a scalable solution for the students to use as they complete their class projects. As Professor Orsolits said in his presentation, “it’s a convenient way to explain difficult concepts in an easier way. We all live in a 3D world, but when it comes to lecturing and explaining, it is invaluable to have real live 3D data that can be visualized in AR.” To address the obstacles faced when teaching these concepts, Professor Orsolits believes AR is the best solution to “get the picture of what’s going on.”

3 Main Benefits of the Digital Factory AR Experience:

  1. Visualizing the factory’s order of operations in AR saves time and resources.
  2. Interacting with the digital twin allows the students to test ideas without fear of mistakes.
  3. IoT data connected with the models can allow professors to instruct students on how tests affect the factory in real time.

The research and process of building and implementing the smart factory is highlighted in a case study on the MiniFab-Lab at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien.

Tags: Augmented Reality Electronics and High Tech Industrial Equipment Education Connected Devices Digital Transformation Digital Twin Simulation
About the Author Delaney McDevitt

Delaney McDevitt is the marketing copywriter for the PTC Academic Marketing team. In her role, she creates content that embodies the Academic team's mission to empower students and educators to succeed in the digital transformation era.

As a professional writer, she has experience in copywriting, editing, email marketing, content strategy, blogging, document design, and creative writing.