AR and VR: More reality than fiction

Long gone are the days when people only knew about Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) through science fiction movies. AR & VR are real and are happening now. Big players like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple are already involved in a forecasted 108 Billion $ market by 2021 [Digi-Capital].

Both technologies are gaining extensive media attention and are promising incredible growth. But what are the differences between augmented reality and virtual reality?

Augmented Reality superimposes digital information, such as text, images and 3d models in a real-time environment through devices like smartphones or smart glasses.

Virtual Reality is a fully immersive, artificial simulation of a virtual environment using a virtual reality headset.

Read our trends article for an in depth description.

Professional usages

To assist our clients identifying a professional usage of AR & VR, we identified four relevant areas of application:

Maintenance & support: AR can assist technicians by providing them with instructions, checklists or additional information about the product they are maintaining. Step-by-step instructions in relation to the context or remote support from an expert enable higher efficiency and lower the error rate distinctively.

Research & development: AR & VR help visualizing and experimenting 3D models without expensive prototypes. For the first time, researchers can blend 3D holograms with physical assets thanks to AR. Designers can quickly analyze many different perspectives of an object by visually layering realistic holograms onto physical objects. What used to take days with multiple physical models now only takes hours.

Manufacturing: AR provides manufacturing technicians with technical details to enhance the efficiency and quality of their work. Manufacturers are continually building new products and changing designs. As industrial machines and tools are becoming more advanced and enriched in functionalities, most of the industrial sector is facing a spreading gap in the availability of expertise and qualified workforce. Thus, AR is a natural fit for employees performing complex manufacturing tasks.

Education: with AR and VR, teachers can display and interact with 3D elements and teach with objects and procedures close to reality. They have the power to decrease training times, increase efficiency and provide significant cost savings on material.

Challenges

While technology is evolving rapidly, there are still some obstacles to overcome when adopting AR and VR.

User experience (UX): AR and VR offer completely new ways of interaction with systems, products and people. The interface is not reduced to a monitor anymore but is the whole environment. The challenge is to find the adequate interaction pattern for each use case, combined with gestures, voice or head movements.

Hardware: Concerning smart glasses in outdoor conditions, some compromises are necessary in terms of robustness, comfort and battery life. However, we see devices getting better and more powerful every month, a development that encourages our clients to further invest in these technologies.

Costs: AR & VR headsets prices vary from a few francs for a cardboard up to several thousands for high end industrial models. However, like any innovative technology, new models are regularly coming out and prices are rapidly going down.

AR & VR solutions for our customers

Smart Assistance: We built an AR app based on Microsoft Hololens to help Customer Field Service Swisscom complete their maintenance tasks using a hands-free solution. The app allows technicians to follow workflow instructions, perform checklists, and introduce back office automation with automated reports. This solution increases workers’ efficiency while reducing errors and the discrepancy among documents, pictures and feedbacks. This solution has been enhanced for SBB, the national railway company of Switzerland, and tested as main assistance tool to digitalize the maintenance in Gotthard Base Tunnel - Read our case

VR Christmas Cardboards: We developed a Virtual Reality game on mobile phone as part of the Christmas gift for Swisscom VIP customers. The game consists in finding Santa in popular Swiss locations such as Bern or Zermatt. The virtual reality experience only requires a Google Cardboard and a smartphone. Read our case

Video Support: For a field service organization, we built an AR application that allows users to receive video support from external professionals who provide real time instructions over voice or drawing. This solution is browser-based and does not require any installation.

 

OpenWT can help you

While some companies are still wondering if AR & VR are just for entertainment, others already integrate them in their business development.

AR & VR have proven to be of added value! Our customers can now create new ways to engage with their clients, employees and environment. Moreover, AR & VR can be used to boost employees' efficiency, increase their skills, reduce errors and their knowledge gap.

We are here to help you to project yourself into the future using solutions with AR & VR.

AR & VR are real and are happening now.