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Augmented Reality software solutions with Diota.

We caught up with event supporters and speakers at this year’s event Diota, to find out how they’re providing software solutions centred around Augmented Reality, and to ask how they see Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies developing in the future.

Could you start by telling our readers about Diota Augmenting Industries and the services you provide?

Diota provides software solutions centered around Augmented Reality to enable large scale industrial players to link human and digital to increase their industrial performance. On the one hand, these solutions bring digital data in operational spaces to assist human operations; on the other hand they take data collected in the field to information systems to allow optimizing industrial processes. It creates a real synergy between digital data and human know-how, and this synergy generates performance both in the back office and in operational areas.

From which industries are you currently finding the highest demand for AR products and support?

Augmented reality is relevant in any industrial environment where operators have to carry out complex tasks, at any stage of the product life cycle. However, depending on the industry, augmented reality will be used differently. For example in the heavy industry, particularly aerospace, but also rail and shipbuilding, where operators need assistance to assemble unique products whose configuration varies, AR is for now mainly applied in manufacturing processes.

In the automotive industry, AR proves to be particularly relevant to help to design and configure cars, or else to produce and control prototypes. Another example can be taken in the chemical industry where AR considerably improves the understanding and mastering of complex phenomena or enhances training to risk prevention. We mainly work with these above mentioned industry sectors where not only demand is mature,
but also ROI has been verified.

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What is it that makes Diota a leader in the AR field?

Our various collaborations with industrial partners have enabled us to observe that the demands and use cases of industrial companies could interbreed even if they had needs that were their own. We also found that key factors for them to move on to an operational phase with Augmented Reality were the flexibility the solution, and its capability to integrate their existing software and hardware environments, which is synonymous of ROI. So we took an early decision to develop a true generic software solution that would enable them to create with full autonomy Augmented Reality projects in direct connection with standard software solutions like PLM they already use for their 3D models and instruction sheets. Based on breakthrough technological assets, among which a marker less, robust and accurate tracking technology exclusive to us, we have created a multi-use, multi-support and plug-and-play software solution.

In a few clicks, an AR project can be created directly in the PLM and exported via our plugin DiotaConnect. This project can then be immediately played in our software platform DiotaPlayer. Moreover, the same project can be used in the operational space through various devices (tablets, sunglasses, projective systems). Finally, during its use, the user can write comments, take pictures, carry out quality controls the statuses of which are automatically recorded…All the data collected can be transferred directly to the back office, via a pdf reporting or, for some data, a synchronous connection to the information system.

Thanks to this comprehensive offer, and our partnerships with major integrators, our clients are now deploying AR across workstations and industrial sites, with great easiness as no expertise in AR is needed, neither in the back office nor in the operational space. We are no longer talking about proof of concepts in AR, but well about deployments at broad industrial scale, which contributes to a certain leadership of Diota in the field of industrial Augmented Reality.

What are the biggest challenges you face working in the AR space?

One of the biggest challenges is likely to make AR acceptable by operators, who are the diota1main users in the end. We must not forget that not only these new tools involve a change in their habits and work methods, but also that technology has often been opposed to human, and may be received with some reluctance. We do believe that digital technologies, as we see and provide them, are on the contrary to the service of human know-how which is irreplaceable. We now have to step up our education efforts as well as supporting change in collaboration with our industrial partners for this message to be the most audible possible.

Do you feel that VR technology has a future outside of entertainment? For example, could you see any potential for VR to be used to help improve processes and service offerings in B2B industries?

Definitely, VR has potential outside of entertainment, especially but not only for education and training, for industry, the medical field… In this respect we see a true convergence of VR and AR.

Do you have any plans to work with VR technology?

It makes no doubt to us that AR reaches its full potential when it is in synergy with other technologies, especially with VR. So, quite naturally we are working closely with providers of VR solutions to new offers. We will have the opportunity to give a preview of joint solutions at our event “Augmenting Industries Day” by Diota on December 02.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World event?

VR and AR are among the technologies that have the wind in their sails. It is of course good for us (laughs), but a drawback can be that this craze, fed by example with games that buzz like Pokemon go, hides aspects a little more down to earth, less sexy but especially important in this period of time where the industry of the future, the digital factory…are not just hot topics but critical issues that shape our future, the way we work as well as the way we live… We count on the VR & AR World event to highlight these aspects and bring together all the best expertise and insights.

You can find out more about Diota, including where you can find them at VR & AR World here.

Six potential uses for Augmented and Mixed Reality in Construction

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Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are in the headlines, thanks to the recent mobile gaming boom. How are these emerging technologies applicable to construction? In this blog post, Aarni Heiskanen, Managing Partner at AE Partners presents six applications areas to consider.

In AR—like Google Glass or Pokémon GO on a mobile device—the visible natural world is overlaid with a layer of digital content. In MR technologies, like Microsoft’s HoloLens or Magic Leap, virtual objects are integrated into and responsive to the natural world. In a previous post published on the VR & AR World blog, I wrote about virtual reality (VR), where the real world is replaced by a computer-generated environment.

All the virtual technologies are still in relatively early stages of development. However, they already demonstrate the potential to change how we design, build, commercialize, and use the built environment. I brainstormed six application areas for AR and MR in construction.

Architectural and engineering design

Designers use photo or video montages to show how, e.g., a new building, material, or a piece of furniture will sit in an existing environment. With AR, a designer can overlay an interactive design model on the real, live environment.

You don’t need special equipment to use AR in construction. Augment, for example, uses tablets and smartphones as AR devices. Using their app, a printed drawing of a house can be overlaid with an interactive 3D-model.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is a headset that supports applications that mix holographic images with the real environment that the user is in. It scans the user’s environment and adds computer-generated surfaces, graphics, and objects into the real scene. Depending on the application, a designer can, e.g., manipulate objects, use voice commands, and move inside the designed environment.

Seeing things at scale is helpful, even for a trained designer. I think that MR will finally free the designers from their desks or offices and possibly bring them to the site of a new or renovation construction. I’m convinced that these opportunities will also lead to innovations in design and construction.

Construction sites

We’ve seen tablets at construction sites, but the possibility of integrating digital content with the real world opens up new possibilities for planning work, quality management, safety, and inspection.

Almost two years ago, I interviewed Mallorie Brodie, co-founder of Bridgit. At the time, the company was prototyping an interesting app that combined Google Glass and Thalmic Lab’s Myo armband. The app allowed a worker to browse through specs and design documents with Google Glass using hand movements, even with gloves on.

Another AR app that I’ve written about is DAQRI Smart Helmet. It has a display visor that connects the user to the work environment and provides relevant information instantaneously. Since everybody on a construction site is already wearing a helmet, adding AR or MR capabilities to the helmet is a very natural choice.

Safety is a big issue in construction. At the AEC Hackaton 3.2 Helsinki, one of the hack teams, Team Safety, used BIM, HoloLens, and Trimble Connect to plan, analyze, adjust, and verify safety on a construction site (see the video below).

Project collaboration

Construction project teams are often dispersed. There are already many digital ways to collaborate over a distance. AR and MR will add a new dimension to digital collaboration.

Software developer Object Theory has shown how MR can be used to gather a project team in one space around a 3D model of a building, as avatars. A construction firm, CDM Smith, has already used this technology successfully.

Commissioning and handover

There are already mobile punch list apps and cloud services that have made the closeout process considerably more efficient than the paper-based equivalent. Likewise, commissioning requires a lot of documents and information on building systems. AR and MR apps could bring the specifications, along with the actual performance metrics, right to where they are needed.

Handing over a project to the client is another phase where AR and MR could be used. An interactive building owner’s manual and building user’s guide could add considerable value over the life cycle of a building. However, there is a serious challenge with property-related apps. Since technology develops very fast, apps become obsolete in a relatively short time.

Education

AR and MR can speed up learning processes considerably. Instead of sitting in a classroom, trainees could design, build, and test ideas in a real environment. Distant education would also benefit from AR and MR applications.

Maintenance training is also a promising application area, as the following video demonstrates.

Marketing and sales

In 2013, IKEA created an AR catalog app to help customers visualize how certain pieces of furniture would fit and look in their own home. Similarly, AR and MR can be used for visualizing prefabricated homes, renovation projects, building and interior products, and so on.

Caterpillar is developing AR and VR for maintenance and safety checks, but they also use AR for marketing and sales as this video shows.

The most feasible way to offer AR and MR services, so far, is with smartphones and tablets. Consumers are getting used to gaming, entertainment, and sales apps that use AR and MR. This interest and demand will lead to feasible and affordable technologies that the construction industry can benefit from. Cross-industry collaboration and imaginative thinking in this field could result in killer innovations.


This post was contributed by  Aarni Heiskanen, of AEC Business. Aarni is a Finnish business consultant for built environment innovators and game changers, managing partner at AE Partners and co-founder of Thinking Portfolio. Aarni is the author and host of AEC-Business.com, a renowned blog and podcast for construction industry trailblazers.


VR & AR World, ExCeL London, 19 – 20 October 2016

With just over a month until the first ever VR & AR World event, you can still buy tickets online here, as well as find out all about the speakers, exhibitors and more! You can also download the event agenda here.

 

 

Augmented Reality: A technology that will change every aspect of our lives

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We caught up with Percy Stocker, COO of Ubimax and speaker at this year’s VR & AR World, to discuss Augmented Reality technology, how it’s being used and which industries it will have the largest impact on in the future.

Could you tell us about yourself and how you came to work in this industry?

My passion is driving leading edge technology innovations and I strongly believe AR is a major one, which will radically change the way we live and work. I didn’t want to be a passive AR consumer, but rather actively shape our future human-machine-interaction. My computer science and management consulting background helps me to find a good balance between technology enthusiasm and obtaining business benefits for our customers.

Please could you tell us a little bit about UBiMAX and how you’re using AR technologies to provide solutions for B2B customers?


Ubimax is a leading supplier of wearable computing solutions which are deployed by organizations, midsize companies as well as international enterprises spanning multiple industries. Our innovative solutions improve customers’ business process speed, quality and flexibility beyond state-of-the-art by making use of wearable computing technology such as Vuzix M100 or Google Glass.

The portfolio of Ubimax includes both tailor-made customer solutions and industrial high-performance standard applications such as “xPick” for order picking, “xMake” for assembly assistance and quality assurance or “xAssist” for remote service scenarios. Ubimax is a full-service provider along the entire application value chain, ranging from initial consulting to software implementation and subsequent maintenance and support, acting as a one-stop-shop to its customers.

The Ubimax team consists of wearable computing pioneers with more than 15 years of experience. Its senior advisory board with leading subject matter experts (e.g. Prof. Thad E. Starner) helps to keep Ubimax clearly ahead of competition.

What are the most common challenges you face working in this sector?

The biggest challenge is fully utilizing the leading-edge hardware and jointly with our customers develop their individual vision and roadmap to success. In order to do this Ubimax offers both business as well as technology centered workshops and consulting.

Are there any exciting projects you’ve been working on recently that you can tell us about?

Companies like DHL or Samsung already today benefit from a performance increase of 20-25% in their picking processes by using the Ubimax xPick solution and are now starting to scale their deployments. DHL is aiming for a global roll-out with locations in US, Europe and Asia still in 2016. Besides these company benefits our solutions are also very popular with the workers. For example an order picker at DHL mentioned that “Using xPick, it was the first time I was having fun doing order picking”. There are many more companies that are already today using our solutions productively. Volkswagen, Daimler and Schnellecke are just a few examples.

There’s been a lot of talk about both AR and VR in gaming this year – do you believe that in the long term this is where these technologies have the most potential?

The technologies will radically change every aspect of our lives. AR will be present in all activities where physical interaction is required. Gaming is just one example where VR is used today and in the near future it will have a huge impact. But the use cases for these technologies are virtually endless.

Which 3 industries do you feel will benefit from augmented reality technology the most and why?

I believe Manufacturing, Logistic and Maintenance will benefit most.

Manufacturing:
Today, static step-by-step assembly and quality assurance procedures dominate industrial production processes. Instructions are often printed on paper or provided via a desktop PC. In both cases instructions are not always in the line of sight of the worker nor are they dynamically adjustable during production. With our innovative “make-by-vision” solution xMake, relevant information, confirmations, and documentation capabilities are always at the worker’s exact location and in front of his eyes. As a result, xMake helps to increase speed and quality of production processes as well as simplifies training of new or temporary workers.

Logistic:
Our software xPick is an innovative “pick-by-vision” order picking solution. It supports manual order picking, incoming, outgoing and sorting of goods as well as inventory management. xPick allows for hands-free order picking with high speed while at the same time being able to reduce the number of picking errors. With optional modules, e.g. for weight checks, barcode scans, localization, or voice confirmations, error rates can be further reduced. User acceptance is usually very high due to the innovative graphical UI design. xPick offers enormous customization flexibility and does not rely on any electronics in the environment except WLAN.

Maintenance:
Service and inspection activities usually occupy both hands of a service technician. In addition, further information such as maintenance procedures are needed “at hand” as well. With our innovative “inspect-by-vision” solution xInspect all relevant information, like guidelines, checklists, visualizations, circuit diagrams, etc. are always right in the line of sight without compromising on a workers’ mobility. In case onsite technicians cannot resolve a problem, remote experts may be consulted for advice. The built-in remote assistance functionality (xAssist) of xInspect helps to significantly reduce machine downtime and travel cost for key experts.

If you had to predict the futures of VR and AR, what would they look like in ten years’ time?

In 10 years it will be quicker to list the things that are not yet “smart” and connected. We will live in a world of ubiquitous computing, where technology is everywhere on our bodies and in the environment. We will also not think too much anymore about how to utilize technology as there will be little to none explicit interaction, but un-intrusive information availability. We will naturally interact with the environment using multiple interconnected wearables. VR and AR will be mainstream and the two major interaction priciples.

Are there any industries or areas that UBiMAX is keen to focus on more heavily in the future?

We will continue to build out our wearable computing suite extending it to all areas of industrial computing, allowing for seamless integration of wearables in all business processes.

Ubimax will become the “SAP” for the deskless worker.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World?

I am looking forward to meeting with people that share my mindset of wanting to shape and improve our world. I want to discuss and work side by side with them in making our visions reality.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to meet up at  VR & AR World. I am looking forward to engaging with you in interesting discussions.

If you’d like to find out more about Ubimax and how they can help your business, please get in touch here.


 

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VR & AR World 2016

If you’re interested in finding out more about this year’s VR and AR World conference, visit the official event website, where you’ll find info on speakers, agendas, tickets and more.