Augmented Reality enters the world of power plants

E JAugmented Reality

Industry 4.0, the interlocking of industrial production with modern information- and communication technology, is on everybody’s lips, but how can German energy-providers profit from the new waves of innovation?

The term industry 4.0, which ought to invite a new industrial revolution, has been around a while, but now the sector of energy-provision heats matters up. “The industrial sector of energy is a main driver for digitalisation. It owes the competence for industry 4.0, the cross-linking of information and the transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Those are the 3 main themes of the future to be discussed nowadays“, rightly states Johannes Kempmann, President of the German Association of Energy and Water Industries (BDEW), and the international consulting firm PWC concludes in their much noticed study “Deutschlands Energie­versorger werden digital” that still much has to be done in many areas. Andreas Kühl, Germany’s most known energy-blogger comes to the same conclusion.

Which benefits we can expect from digitalisation

No industrial sector can avoid the topic of digitalisation, as the environment in focus changes fundamentally. One fact is clear to everybody: the fourth industrial revolution will change the energy sector once and forever. Vienna, rather known for its sights, showed a glimpse of the future within the sector of energy-provision sooner this year. Wien Energie, Austria’s largest regional energy provider, engaged the Austrian start-up ViewAR to show a proof-of-concept which caused quite a stir. The objective: to test Augmented Reality via Microsoft’s HoloLens in a power plant in order to evaluate saving potentials with Maintenance 4.0. What started as a minor AR-case turned out to be a source of enlightenment, driving strategic innovation throughout the entire company.

Cross-linking of information

Just a reminder: Augmented Reality enables the display of reality augmented with any kind of useful information, though enabling more efficient processes and effective communication, one case being the maintenance of power plants. Practices shows that maintenance workers face complex challenges in their daily work, mainly connected with unavailable data at their point of action. ViewAR resolved the problem for Wien Energie, cross-linking and delivering data via smart-glasses in a “hands-free” approach.

Such mobile applications for the maintenance-workforce not only enable more efficient and time-saving MRO-procedures, but offer highly sophisticated indoor-navigation through so-called “way-points” and finally remote assistance, linking specialists to a live-stream that is. The joint effort of internal and external know-how is of critical importance if you face downtimes of one of your turbines and need to be back up running as fast as possible. Possible individual applications can be found en mass, so let’s highlight the, by no means complete, areas of AR usage within the energy sector:

  • In-time expertise (fast remote expertise in critical situations/environments)
  • Documentation (efficient digitalised documentation of maintenance processes and accompanying measures)
  • Decision foundations (Availability of relevant information for making decisions on-site)
  • Hands-free approach (Unrestrained usage of hands)
  • Error reduction (Noticeable reduction of errors based on “digital learning” and training)
  • Education and training (Digitalised documented knowledge-management for all fields of work)

Where the roadmap leads us

This project just allows a glimpse of the real potential, but it proves something very important: Maintenance 4.0 is not a fiction anymore. Although energy providers take the matter of digitalisation very seriously, strategical insight misses a bit, especially when it comes to prioritizing the roadmap to success. New digital company-environments need time and money to implement sustainable structures. Not an easy task we might add, but it can be done if wanted.

Time runs out, no doubt, in order not to miss out for such a great opportunity. It is time for the sector of energy to think about new co-operations. The well-known energy-trust Wien Energie and the innovative Augmented Reality start-up ViewAR can be taken as a good win/win example. PWC offers insights about the most important areas, in which digitalisation will deliver noticeable long-term benefits. Maintenance 4.0 therefore should be treated accordingly when it comes to set up roadmaps into industry 4.0.

Apple proves that Augmented Reality is for everyone

E JAugmented Reality

Augmented Reality has been around for a while but now it’s entering consumers mainstream, becoming the future of e-commerce.

Until last week several rumours whether Apple is investing in Augmented Reality or not have come up very often over the last couple of years. Acquisitions like PrimeSense, the Israeli 3D sensor company (2013) and Metaio, the German computer vision tracking company (2015) created a huge hype around this issue. When earlier this year Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, called Augmented Reality “the greatest thing since the smartphone!”, it was clear that they are up to something for the broad mass of consumers.

Other tech giants like Microsoft also bet on this technology, creating new user experiences, leading the customer journey and driving faster sales. Devices like the Microsoft HoloLens or working on new Augmented Reality technologies like SLAM Trackings for all mobile devices are a proof for everyone betting on this new technology. Even Google with its project Tango started pushing Android as the state-of-the-art Augmented Reality platform over those last couple of years, delivering sustainable software solutions for mobile devices.

But it all came down to Monday, June 5th 2017, when Apple released the ARKit, accelerating the entire AR-world by preinstalling Augmented Reality features on hundreds of millions of Apple devices with its new operating system iOS 11 to be released in September 2017.

Augmented Reality is ready for consumers!

The demos Apple presents, and companies like IKEA who already working on new AR-experiences featuring the Apple ARKit, show how Augmented Reality will find its place in e-commerce and the field of product visualisation. ViewAR is already integrating the ARKit, launching first consumer apps with Bang & Olufsen and Markilux in September this year.

30% of all Retailers are planning to integrate AR-features in 2017

Since the car-industry has taken the early train to AR with sophisticated configurators, it became clear that Augmented Reality was the key of future success for e-commerce and retail. Consulting agencies and research giants worldwide are steadily publishing studies on Augmented Reality and its use. PWC’s and JDA Software Group’s “CEO Viewpoint 2017: The Transformation Of Retail” states: “Especially the sector of retail starts to augment obvious visuals with virtual elements like pictures, texts and graphics or even videos, as well as visualising products in a consumer’s environment to drive sales and to create a more immersive customer journey.”

ViewAR and Apple’s ARKit

ViewAR already pushed an extreme testing of Apple’s new ARKit, proving enormous tracking stability.

AWE USA 2017

E JAugmented Reality

ViewAR could be proud of its major appearance when it comes to name the participating giants of today’s technology like Samsung, Intel, IBM or NASA, just to name a few. Nevertheless, standing its ground with the highly sophisticated SDK platform, the Austrian innovation leader sets new standards for the broad adaption of AR technology.

Yes, the event impressed by the “who’s who” list of participants. Obviously, nobody who takes interest in Augmented Reality would ever miss such a chance to watch, talk, share or discuss with top leaders of the technological Olympus. No less then “bring superpowers to the world” expressed the event’s main objective, namely to present the most exciting industry of our times and to change the perception of reality sustainably and forever.

“The Consumer Electronics Show of the Future. The increasingly Near Future.” – USA Today

But let figures talk at the beginning. With over 4,700 attendees, 351 speakers and 212 exhibitors on over 100,000 sqft., AWE USA 2017 really made a strong impression to the AR community. That’s what we call a real playground for evangelists, investors, publishers and developers of technology, which no doubt will change the world’s perception once and forever.

Nominated for the Auggie

With strong competition worldwide, this year’s AWE Auggie Award winners really had to show their best to impress the judges. ViewAR’s Authoring or Publishing Tool was credited with an honourable second place, missing a second Auggie in a row by the skin of a teeth. Nevertheless, the team around Markus Meixner, owner and CTO of ViewAR, did a really good job to build a tool which will scale worldwide very soon. “Of course we like to win, especially as a team, but coming that close confirms the good feedback we’ve got from the market recently”, states Phillip Fumolo, CEO of ViewAR, “Now it’s time to analyze our standing and continue with further improvements.”.

AWE: Impressive, impressive!

Can you name one exhibition worldwide that doubles visitors on yearly base? Well, AWE USA 2017 made it. It’s a good sign to see the industry growing, creating waiting queues on each entry, attracting exhibitors as well as participants. What impresses even more is the unity among the community, helping each other to promote new services, finding ways to improve each other’s products and creating new ideas on the way. You can feel the spirit in spontaneously organised project talks and inside the boothes, where leading exponents of the industry shared their knowledge and experience with others. With such rich and dense industrial AR-power available, “bringing superpowers to the world” seemed to be an easy task.

ViewAR held more than its ground on AWE, becoming a trendsetter in the fast growing sector of publishing tools. Generally it can be said, that the industry focuses on “systems” rather than fancy customized-solutions. Where else can you compare your structures, ideas and solutions better than in such an event, and ViewAR’s SDK is, no doubt, a leading platform for developers and agencies, enabling them to display creativity based on a reliable base.

“Thousands of hours thinking about the right structure now pays off”, states Markus Meixner, pointing at the strength of the platform, “our vast amount of useful features allows us to adapt to the market’s sometimes unforeseeable turns in the shortest time possible.”

Clients?

Developing mind-breaking technology is fun indeed. But the acid test of existing and future AR applications still is measured by the acceptance and adaption of the market, meaning the potential clients. Citing Churchill one would think of his famous words “It’s the end of the beginning.”, describing the change of perception for AR services. Augmented Reality enters mainstream and in a few years from now, companies will cease to exist, if they don’t include AR in their strategies.

ViewAR used the time in Santa Clara on AWE to listen carefully to the visions and pains of visiting companies, willing to go for “the real deal”. Yes, it needs substantial investments to dive into World 4.0 concepts, but the return will show up in a short period of time and builds sustainable business models, guaranteeing long term success thereafter.

Superpowers for ViewAR

E JAugmented Reality

The Augmented World Expo 2016

On June 1st & 2nd, 2016, the AWE (Augmented World Expo), the largest conference and expo featuring augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and wearable technology, took place in Santa Clara, California – just a bit south of San Francisco. The event saw nearly 4,000 attendees from over 40 countries, 200 speakers and 200 exhibitors and ViewAR was part of it. As nominee in two categories for the Auggie Awards 2016 – the Oscar’s in the AR/VR industry – the ViewAR team traveled to Santa Clara, CA in order to showcase new projects and latest innovations on-site. Giving live demos and letting visitors try newest products created somewhat a buzz around our stand.

With us was at the AWE, was Simon Silva (Global Customer Experience Manager, Bang & Olufsen), with whom ViewAR developed the Mixed Reality App “BeoHome Design” and took up a speaker spot at the conference, holding a key note on “Bridging the retail gap between visualisation and reality“.

A short interview with Markus, ViewAR’s CTO, where he introduces two nominated apps right before the Awards ceremony may be found here:

ViewAR – the award winning Augmented Reality system

When applying for the Auggie Awards our team didn’t even imagine this phenomenal outcome. Our depth-sensing project “Volume Check” in cooperation with Lufthansa Cargo made it to the Top 5 out of more than 120 applications. The state of the art app „BeoHome Design“ which ViewAR developed for the design brand Bang & Olufsen won the Auggie Award 2016 in the category „Best-App“. We feel honored and still cannot believe it, but here is the proof. At this point we want to say THANK YOU to the entire ViewAR team working on these two amazing projects! A big thanks also to our clients, who made it possible to work on such great projects!

Summing it up, the AWE2016 again was a great experience where we got to know great people and products. We are already looking forward to returning to the AWE2017!

Apple ARKit for iOS first tracking tests

E JAugmented Reality

Apple beams Augmented Reality into a new era, announcing ARKit which brings Augmented Reality capabilities to hundreds of millions of devices

Almost undetected by mainstream media, Apple announced a new Augmented Reality platform named ARKit on Monday 27th of May 2017, reaching out for hundreds of millions of devices.

ViewAR does first tests with ARKit

ViewAR did first tests with ARKit to check out the tracking capabilities and stability.
Download Sample XCode Project

We are pretty amazed about the stability and the tracking capabilities. This is definitely a huge step forward for the industry. Further tests are in process, we keep you posted.

Although Apple’s announcement of ARKit slipped below the radar, it nevertheless shows why Augmented Reality is the next disruptive technology inside the world we know. Building rich experience on a platform like that, AR developers are ready in their starting blocks to push technology far beyond what users all around the world have been experiencing up to date.

“It’s great for companies like us to see, that Apple sees AR as we do,” states Phillip Fumolo, CEO at ViewAR. And it’s just the beginning. As rumours go, Apple plans to build a new generation of iPhones mainly on AR features, strengthening its leading position in the technology No1 of the near future.