Before we talk about how Augmented Reality can improve manufacturing, we need to define it. Augmented Reality combines the real and digital worlds by overlaying a computer-generated image over a real-world object. A recent example of this is Nintendo’s Pokémon Go app in which users go out into the real world to capture digitally generated Pokémon and battle other users and their Pokémon at specific places. There are other examples, but many of these are tied to gaming or consumer apps. That makes it hard to see how it can be used in any way in the manufacturing world.

Making the Case for Augmented Reality in Manufacturing

It’s easy to see how the integration of cloud data or the Internet of Things (IoT) can improve manufacturing. In fact, we have many examples of companies utilizing it to their advantage. However, using augmented reality in manufacturing application is still in its infancy. Still, there are a few examples of its use.

Microsoft’s HoloLens has recently been deployed in some manufacturing facilities. These Augmented Reality headsets can overlay instructions, statistics, and information over real-world equipment. Looking at a machine through the headset can show you its current performance, output, and temperature. This can help a worker troubleshoot a malfunctioning machine, or just teach them what the optimal parameters are.

Beyond just text, though, Augmented Reality hardware can display full technical documents and streaming video explanations for a piece of hardware.  This can help workers train faster as they have access to information and references right at their fingertips.

Augmented Reality can also be used in inspection and quality control applications. For instance, an image of a perfectly manufactured product or part can be projected over the real-world example, helping to catch imperfections that may have been bypassed by the naked eye.

As you can see, using Augmented Reality to improve manufacturing is just getting started, but it has the potential to improve many different facets of the industry.