Immersive Mixed Reality, or MR, technologies bring virtual objects into the real world, or blend a physical environment with a digital one.
MR technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), are poised to grow considerably over the next few years. In fact, more manufacturers are leveraging this technology as the Augmented Reality market is expected to reach - billion in revenue by 2023 .
How will companies use AR and VR?
When a manufacturer has multiple factories, AR can help a small number of engineers see inside many locations, and perhaps maintain a sprawling setup.
With a head-mounted display, design engineers can view and evaluate 3D representations of models before they are built: augmented-reality before reality.
A company called GridRaster uses cloud-based, remote augmentation to bring design models to mobile devices and smartglasses.
We spoke with GridRaster co-founder Dijam Panigrah about the emerging use of AR and VR in design.
(A note to our readers: Have you used mixed-reality in your design process? We want to hear from you. Share your questions and comments in the comments section below.)
Tech Briefs: What is motivating companies to adopt more VR/AR, do you think?
Dijam Panigrah: A recent study conducted by GridRaster showed that 39% of respondents are implementing AR/VR technologies over the next 12 months. Many industries are dealing with staffing shortfalls as positive COVID-19 cases and health concerns keep workers home. Companies quickly invested in safety measures to return plant production to pre-virus levels, but a rise in new cases has threatened setbacks for carmakers.
The survey revealed that for 71% of manufacturing executives, COVID-19 has either moved them to start planning or “fasttrack” plans for AR/VR implementations. Sixty-eight percent of executives are planning to use AR/VR for virtual design. For those manufacturers that have already implemented technologies such as AR/VR, more than a third of them (38%) say they’re seeing a 10% - 15% increase in savings. Seventy-one percent are leveraging AR/VR for supplemental virtual labor on production lines, and another 65% are using it for virtual customer service visits.
"We completely believe that AR and VR is going to completely transform the way we do our work, how we live, how we interact with the world how we entertain our selves, how we. communicate, says Panigrah in the below video from 2019, "but there is a long way to go."
Tech Briefs: What were some of the concerns, shown through the survey results.
Dijam Panigrah: Scalability is a major concern for many manufacturers. Seventy-nine percent point to scalability as a primary concern as to why they haven’t implemented AR/VR yet, and for those that have made implementations 52% said they need to move their AR/VR to the cloud for additional scalability.
Cloud-based AR is still new and while there are security measures in place for the technology today, it is sometimes a challenge to have an enterprise organization modify legacy philosophies and migrate from on-premise to a cloud environment. Once these organizations realize the scalability and technological potential of the cloud, this migration is imminent.
Tech Briefs: What is the biggest challenge in getting designers to adopt AR/VR?
Dijam Panigrah: The device limitations severely restrict the capability of existing AR/VR systems to generate and work with very fine mesh with large polygon count models and point clouds, which is essential to collocate and precisely fuse the virtual objects on top of physical objects in the real world with complex surfaces, and varied lighting and environment.
Manufacturers and engineers are overcoming this great challenge by partnering with providers of cloud-based (or remote server based) AR/VR platforms powered by distributed cloud architecture and 3D vision-based AI. These AR/VR cloud platforms provide the desired performance and scalability to drive innovation in the industry at speed and scale.
Tech Briefs: What are the drawbacks of cloud-based AR? Are there security issues? What must users do to ensure design-data security when it is not stored locally?
Dijam Panigrah: Cloud-based AR is still new and while there are security measures in place for the technology today, it is sometimes a challenge to have an enterprise organization modify legacy philosophies and migrate from on-premise to a cloud environment. Once these organizations realize the scalability and technological potential of the cloud, this migration is imminent.
Tech Briefs: What is the most exciting, specific way that you have seen AR and VR support a design process?
Dijam Panigrah: Enterprise-grade high-quality AR/VR platforms require both performance and scale. However, existing systems such as MS HoloLens and others are severely limited in both aspects. Most enterprises have a rich repository of existing complex 3D CAD/CAM models created over the years. These 3D models may vary in their complexity (such as poly count, hierarchy, details, etc), making it difficult to run and excel within on-premise virtual platform environments, restricted by device limitations. This forces developers to decimate the contents (3D models/scenes) to fit to different mobile devices, spending months in the process and sacrificing on the overall quality of the experience.
As these virtual environments become richer and larger, the problem continues to compound. This cycle is repeated for each of the different AR/VR hardware platforms, making it difficult for any enterprise to move from experiments and pilots to full scale deployable solutions, thus stunting the speed of innovation and effectiveness.
Manufacturers and engineers today are experiencing the next wave of technology innovation that will fundamentally alter the way they operate. This transformation is primarily driven by merging of the digital and physical world to create a better, smarter and more efficient way of operating. Immersive technologies such as AR/VR technologies are playing a pivotal role in this transformation. The organizations that take a leadership role will be the ones that not only leverage these technologies, but they will partner with the right technology provider to help scale appropriately without having to stunt technological growth.
What do you think? Are you considering using AR and VR in your designs? Have you incorporated mixed-reality into the design process? Share your questions and comments below.