Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, and Procter & Gamble were credited with shaping the future of AR technology in the statement published by UI LABS, a collaborative platform for universities, startups, industry, and government to innovate.
The three companies headed up the development of said guidelines via the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a subsidiary of UI LABS. However, 65 other organizations (including industry leaders, AR providers, universities, and government agencies) also contributed their insight to the development of the guidelines in a workshop.
Augmented reality imposes computer-generated content on the user's surroundings, by placing new information on top of the existing environment via headsets (e.g., HoloLens), smartglasses, phones, or tablets.
The guideline documents addressed hardware features like battery life, connectivity, field of view, on-board storage, on-board operating system, environmental, inputs/outputs, and safety. Software features like authoring, AR content, 3D content creation, deployment of AR content, and Internet of Things were also dealt with therein.
Augmented reality has immense potential to transform manufacturing, and early adopters are seeing impressive productivity and quality improvements. However, wide adoption of this technology requires collaboration among the industrial companies operating on the front lines and the AR providers designing solutions to ensure the technology under development meets the needs of industry.
AR technology companies will be able to develop and enhance products for industrial users with the help of the guidelines. Prospective improvements will be visible in following areas:
- employee training and safety
- factory floor and field services operations
- machine assembly, inspection, and repair
- manufacturing space
- product design
Mark Sage, Executive Director of AREA, explained that the guidelines would help suppliers and users to "develop a roadmap and source, select, evaluate and deploy augmented reality solutions." Sage said that this would help to drive future change for the AR market.
Although some AR technology and products are still in the early stages of development, it is an industry that is rapidly expanding. A recent Credence Research report stated that the market was set to exceed $95.0 billion by 2023. Recent reports have indicated that the AR industry will grow by 37.4% from 2017 to 2021.
Other big players in the DMDII industry workshop included Microsoft, General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Dow Chemical, Intel, the US Air Force, Stanley Black & Decker, and Johnson & Johnson, along with many others.