From automotive and aerospace engineering to medical device manufacturing, augmented reality has broad applications across a wide variety of industries.
Currently, there are three main types of AR being used to support manufacturing and assembly operations: projection-based AR, tablet AR and wearable AR.
Let’s take a look at how these common forms of AR stack up against each other and what business leaders should consider when making the decision to invest in AR.
Projector-based AR vs. Tablet AR
While tablet augmented reality is cost effective, it’s not as practical as other types of AR. First, tablets require battery power and/or an internet connection in order to operate an AR application, which can restrict the areas in which it’s used.
Projector-based AR, on the other hand, is tied into a factory’s electricity, and does not require batteries or an internet connection in order to function.
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, tablet AR is not hands-free. This is problematic for manufacturing operators and poses safety and consistency concerns, as tablets offer a more confined line of sight than its projector-based counterpart.
Projector-based AR is completely hands-free. Designed to make factory floors smarter, safer and more efficient, projector-based augmented reality uses advanced projection technology to overlay a virtual operating “canvas” onto any work surface and guides operators through a series of audio and visual prompts. By projecting the right information in the right place at the right time, workers can keep their eyes on the task at hand, rather than a cumbersome manual, computer or tablet.
Projector-Based AR vs. Wearable AR
While wearable AR solutions, like Google Glass and Microsoft Hololens, have gained a considerable amount of interest in recent years, this type of AR has limitations in a factory setting. From a safety standpoint, wearables can easily obstruct the operators vision and have been known to cause users to feel dizzy or nauseous. There are also basic hygiene concerns with a system that requires the sharing of devices between operators, meaning a different pair must be issued for each person.
Combine limited sight and scalability with a short battery life, and risk of damage or loss, and the business cost for wearable AR no longer seems justified.
In contrast, projector-based AR can be utilized by many workers without issue, and the hardware is better protected against damage or loss.
With audio and visual cues, no-faults-forward functionality and specialized tools that work with existing equipment, projector-based augmented reality is guaranteed to improve processes in an efficient and effective manner.