When I tell family and friends that I work a lot with AR/VR technology, many of them immediately assume that I’m working on something like Pokemon Go – the video game that captured the public’s imagination and brought Pokemon characters into the real world last summer. Consumer uses for AR/VR are obvious: whether getting a live, front row seat at the Olympics or determining what paint color or furniture works best in your living room.
Pokemon Go brought a lot of visibility to the consumer side of AR/VR. For my part, I’m more interested in its potential to connect the physical and digital world and how manufacturers can use AR/VR technology to improve their product development process? With AR/VR technology, not only can manufacturers advance their activities and technologies to deliver new value for smart, connected products throughout their lifecycle, but they can also eventually use it to outperform the competition with immersive simulations based on real-time product usage and performance analytics. Right now, we are looking at two specific ways that AR/VR technology can be used as part of a Digital Engineering Transformation journey: Collaborative AR/VR Design and Distributed AR/VR Product Review.
Collaborative AR/VR Design
As teams become more globally distributed, it can sometimes be difficult to get everyone involved to review a product design in a timely manner, collect all the information needed for the review and capture feedback for future action.
Collaborative AR/VR Design streamlines the review process using AR/VR technology to visualize, interact with, and provide feedback on product design from anywhere in the world. By using AR/VR, your teams will be able to review design more frequently. Not only does this increase the participation of stakeholders from disparate locations and from different backgrounds (suppliers, customers, marketing, etc.), but it also can help your organization reduce costs by identifying potential issues earlier in the product development process.
Collaborative AR/VR design can also ensure that all feedback from stakeholders is captured and not lost in the shuffle. As part of the AR/VR design review process, product interaction, voice comments, drawn, and text feedback can be captured and inputted directly into the design history of the product and leveraged as part of a change process.
Collaborative AR/VR is something that we at PTC are working to achieve to simplify the end-to-end process of reviewing product designs. With our in-the-works AR Design Review app built on the ThingWorx Studio platform, you’ll be able to initiate a design review process leveraging a ThingWorx View experience that can be shared with the review team.
Interaction with the 3D model in Augmented Reality is very natural. With the AR experience, you can walk around the model, view different state of the model, as well as go inside the model itself. Furthermore, avatars can show which of your team members are also viewing the design and where on the design they are looking. This third-party perspective comes in handy when deciphering notes from the team. When reviewing a note left by a colleague – whether the note was typed in or recorded vocally – you can see the precisely what the note-taker was seeing when they made the note. Notes are also connected to the specific component selected at the time of the note.
While this app is still something we are working on, it was a big hit at this year’s LiveWorx and we know that it is something that your teams are going to love.
Distributed AR/VR Product Review
Distributed AR/VR Product Review is a great way to outperform the competition and connect the digital and physical worlds. Imagine, for example, that your product is a part on the International Space Station and you – safe and secure at your office on Earth – are the only person who can fix it. Perhaps NASA could send you up to the space station on a rocket to fix it in person. I am sure this will be a great experience but a better option is to interact with the physical product twin in a virtual world -- keeping both feet planted firmly on Earth.
The uses for this don’t necessarily have to be as dramatic as the above example. Perhaps your organization is headquartered in Silicon Valley but a customer in Texas is having minor issues with your product. Before booking a plane ticket, you can use AR/VR to tap into what’s going on with that particular product and determine the most cost-effective way to fix it or improve it based on real time sensor data and direct product feedback on the virtual model: whether that’s delivering a fix remotely to the product or getting someone from service to make a visit.
The use of AR/VR technology in the manufacturing industry is going to completely transform the way products are developed. It will help your teams gain consensus faster, improve decision-making, and give you more actionable feedback by engaging your stakeholder with a Digital representation of your product and all relevant information.
Click here to discover how your organization can advance its use of IoT technologies and outperform the competition with AR/VR.