The Difference Between Table-Top and Product-Overlay Augmented Reality

How your company applies augmented reality largely depends on the type of content you develop. Is that content designed for routine maintenance or repair? Mechanics or customers?

When I have this discussion with service professionals, I usually end up talking about table-top and product-overlay AR:

  • Table-top AR (also known as "on-table" AR) refers to any 3D content that represents a product in its entirety. It may be a graphical representation of a tractor, motorcycle, HVAC unit, or whatever.
  • Product-overlay AR (also known as "on-part" AR) describes 3D content that’s overlaid onto a physical object in the real world. For example, an animation of how to replace a car battery could lie over an actual car battery.

Why get caught up in the differences between the two? Because they have different applications in service. My colleagues, Julian Ferrett and Scott Thompson, actually plan to discuss these applications during a three-part virtual event in August:

Virtual Event: Develop Augmented Reality Experiences for Service

How service organizations can use table-top AR

Table-top augmented reality content can really help you train and educate entry-level workers.

For example, imagine you’re a wet-behind-the-ears aircraft technician. Instead of having an instructor show you each part on an aircraft engine and explain how each component works, you put on a headset.

Through that headset, you interact with a life-sized 3D animation of that aircraft engine. The animation runs sequences demonstrating the engine’s function, each part’s role in that function, and how to replace specific components.

Think about that same situation from the perspective of an instructor. Each novice can now learn at his or her own pace, and you don’t have to spend two hours talking your head off.

How service organizations can use product-overlay AR

Product-overlay augmented reality content can guide both novice and experienced service professionals through specific tasks. If one of your techs comes across a problem with a machine, and he’s unsure about how to fix it, he can overlay an interactive 3D animation onto the machine to walk him through the repair process.

Providing your technicians with product-overlay AR could go a long way in improving mean time to repair. I just came across a study from IFS and Raconteur, which found that 28% of field service operations “are failing to attain at least 80% service level agreement compliance.

I wouldn’t be surprised if augmented reality became as integral to field service operations as field service management software. Granted, we have a long way to go before that happens. If you want to learn more about AR’s applications in field service, check out this webinar I hosted not too long ago:

Watch on demand: 3 Steps to Bring Augmented Reality to Field Service