Inspection and Maintenance
One of the first applications for augmented reality was how to repair a copying machine. (See. Fig. 5.15, Sect. 5.1), and automotive repair. Augmented reality employing real time computer graphics, overlaid on and registered with the actual equipment being maintained, can significantly increase the productivity of maintenance personnel, both during training and in the field .
Augmented reality can support maintenance tasks by acting as an “x-ray” like vision, or providing information from sensors directly to the user.
Technical Documentation with Augmented Reality
Technical documentation is being visualized and made mobile by augmented reality. Whether in training, operations, troubleshooting or maintenance (and in particular when it comes to complicated machinery or equipment), when employees need instructions they need them to be clear and accessible right away. Undoubtedly, when technicians have to stop and look for printed or digital documents, they lose valuable time searching for the right information. Augmented reality opens up a totally new dimension: with only a few clicks, the 3D instructions are projected directly “onto” the machinery. The data is also the most up to date, unlike old printed manuals and loose field alerts (Fig. 6.6).
Kothes! Technische Kommunikation GmbH, a consulting and service provider of technical documentation and CE marking based in Kempen Germany, has integrated augmented reality into the realms of technical documentation. The SIG company’s Combibloc carton packaging machine required the existing manual to be virtually expanded to provide an added tangible benefit for the user. The specific task was to view the content of the technical documentation directly on the machine using color coded, clearly arranged and linked interactive content. Furthermore, the user can access more details or receive step-by-step augmented reality instructions for machine operation if necessary.
Kothes! created a prototype for an intuitively mobile and easy to navigate user manual for operation, repair and maintenance. The user points his or her tablet at the machine to scan the unique barcode so that the tablet can identify the machine. The virtual guide that appears is context sensitive and colorfully structured to scale for optimal use.
The closer the user is to the machine, the viewing screen displays more relevant details of the individual modules; in addition, each angle generates the next level of the component (Fig. 6.7).
Fig. 6.6 Augmented Reality handbook visualized onto the machine (with permission of Kothes/ SIG)
Fig. 6.7 Step-by-step instructions for replacing a vapor filter (Source: Kothes/SIG)
The clarity is increased enormously as well as the definition for each module of information that is displayed in full screen. In the case of the Re’flekt and Kothes! jointly developed application, the user can select the option of choice to receive detailed information and guidance in a visual form—directly inside the working environment. Munchen Germany based Re’Flkt develops augmented reality applications for automotive, industry and real estate.
Fig. 6.8 Augmented reality guide to find parts and check items in a car (Source: AR-media)