Within the framework of a new innovation project, Augmented Operator, a group of Swedish researchers, industrial and technology companies are gathered to delve into the prospects of the next generation of augmented reality (AR). Utilizing state-of-the-art cloud technology, the project aims to solve problems formulated by industrial companies such as Siemens Energy and Saab.
The transition to Industry 4.0 is happening with increasing speed as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced companies to adopt digital solutions at a faster rate. Additionally, the industry is since before data-driven, and value is currently created by capturing, analyzing and acting on large amounts of data.
Augmented reality (AR) offers great opportunities to build an interface between digital twins and operators in the business. The areas involved can include everything from assembly, analysis of test results to support and service. The technology is already implemented at several large companies, but it has not yet reached its full potential due to constraints in hardware performance.
– Above all, we see opportunities to train new fitters to become self-propelled more rapidly. With AR, the fitters can bring work instructions with them where the work is to be done, which implies a lower cognitive load, says Jesper Birberg, manufacturing engineer at Saab.
What challenges have you previously faced and what do you wish the project will solve?
– A particular challenge has been how precisely details have been shown to the fitters, which has made us hesitant to introduce the technology since there may be a risk of errors as a result of the low resolution. We hope for better accuracy now that it is possible to make the computations on the cloud and then stream the results.
Siemens Energy, which is also participating in the project, sees that AR generally offers great opportunities for streamlining their operations using intuitive training/instructions and improved distance support both internally and externally. Like Saab, Siemens Energy has faced some challenges:
– AR has been tested in beta versions, but various limitations in both hardware and software have halted implementation, says Michael Blomqvist, program manager in manufacturing digitization at Siemens Energy. The aim is that we, within the framework of this project, can find the right technical solution and be able to realize our ideas.
The latest advancements in cloud computing and fast wireless networks like 5G allows the heavy computations to be performed on one server and interactively stream it to the user. This means that performance will no longer be a limiting factor, and the prospects for new exciting applications of AR are great.
– We started this project as we see great opportunities with both AR and streamed interactive 3D visualization. By starting from the industrial companies’ problems, we ensure that there is a market for the result, says Thomas Rydell, one of the founders of the visualization company Interspectral.
At Saab and Siemens Energy, there are several reasons why they have chosen to participate in the collaborative project Augmented Operator.
– This is an opportunity to collaborate with other high-tech companies in the region and thus both contribute and take part in this strong development cluster, says Jesper Birberg.
Michael Blomqvist at Siemens Energy agrees:
– The companies in the project offer a broad and high level of expertise in visualization. We see great opportunities to contribute to further development of both products and expertise within the region.
The fact that Augmented Operator is being launched at present is attributable to several reasons. On the one hand, AR is under constant development and 2021 is predicted to be an important year for technology. On the other hand, the pandemic has meant that businesses have been forced to close down either in whole or in part, which creates great room for innovation, research and development.
In addition to creating innovative ways of working in the manufacturing industry, there is hope that the project can result in new products and services in the field of AR and visualization.
– The fact that the project takes place in Östergötland is exciting and a proof of the world-leading competence situated here, says Felicia Lai Jakobsson, process manager at Visual Sweden. By gathering and working in a consortium, we can significantly increase the level of understanding and the exchange of experience, compared with smaller separate projects. This will contribute to the technology being applied faster. We hope that more people will be inspired!
Thomas Rydell, co-founder at Interspectral
070 – 773 17 09
Felicia Lai Jakobsson, process manager Visual Sweden
076 – 240 02 45
The project is run within the innovation initiative Visual Sweden and is initiated and led by the company Interspectral. Participants are Combitech, Image Systems, Linköping University, Saab, Siemens Energy, Vobling and Voysys. The project is also supported by technology companies such as NVIDIA and Ericsson.