Augmented Reality & Industry 4.0: What It Means for CTO’s

It’s no secret there’s a considerable amount of hype surrounding emerging technologies, particularly when it comes to augmented reality (AR) and its industrial application. Over the past twelve months the AR landscape has shifted dramatically, as big businesses seek to extend proof of concept projects and prototypes into full production, as the technology continues to deliver against commercial goals. Whilst AR technology has generated significant traction via consumer facing apps such as Snapchat, there’s also huge emphasis on enabling enterprise to better understand how to leverage maximum ROI via AR initiatives. As more AR prototyping projects mature into full scale productions, the commercial benefits of the technology become increasingly clear. For big businesses, kick-starting an AR initiative can bring about wide ranging commercial benefits including the creation of new revenue streams, the ability to grow existing streams of revenue and cost reduction. These commercial benefits, particularly in the context of industry 4.0, can be realised through the deployment of AR to bring about process efficiency gains and to enhance existing safety procedures and practices. If you’re business involves software, there’s never been a better time to start thinking about AR and emerging technologies. We recently explored augmented reality and blockchain and the meteoric rise of AR in the enterprise. Today’s blog focuses on the role of Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0 and what the technology means for CTO’s.

In a recent report by PTC , the $1.6bn Industrial IoT and Augmented Reality specialist, say they are expecting 86% of industrial enterprises to launch customer focused AR projects in the next 12 months. There’s a lot of talk out there about enterprises going through “digital transformation” programs. They seem to be turning to Augmented Reality as a way to differentiate their goods and services (50%) and offer more value to their customers, generate higher revenues (28%) and create new business models and revenue streams (17%). Internal projects get a look in also. There is expected to be a significant increase in investment in Business to Employee (B2E) projects. Organisations are waking up to the potential of AR to increase operational efficiency (44%), support training and skills transfer (39%), lower costs by harnessing AR (33%) as well as increasing manufacturing quality control (28%) and reducing development life-cycles (28%).

Augmented Reality technology appears to be reaching a tipping point, moving from the early adopters and lab experiments into the mainstream. Market forecasts estimate the market now being annually worth $11.14bn rising to over $60bn annually by 2023. It’s looking like the strongest growth will be in industrial sectors, where organisations have the wallets to invest and hardware has matured to the point where the AR technology can be deployed safely and reliably in Industrial environments.

One great example of this type of project is the AR technology Aberdeen based Return To Scene Ltd are deploying within the oil and gas sector. Return To Scene’s technical director, Martin MacRae provided his thoughts on the industrial role of AR within an oil and gas context and how the technology enables R2S to underpin wider commercial goals: “R2S AR extends the value proposition of our software to include both remote and onsite users. All data held by our clients in R2S on their projects is now accessible through intrinsically safe mobile devices. Users can simply point the device at the equipment onsite and R2S AR will provide detailed information on, for example, but not limited to; maintenance history, asset registers and live data feeds. As a business, we are uniquely placed to immediately tackle the content challenge facing many looking to enter AR space. For us and our clients, the content already exists; R2S AR provides an alternative way to access this data for the use – at the coal face.”

The speed at which the market for industrial AR is maturing has vastly outstripped analyst expectations. A recent survey in 2016 highlighted that just 67% of companies were considering Augmented Reality roll outs. Another factor influencing the roll-out of AR initiatives within industrial settings is the availability of new developer tools that enable AR agencies to deploy highly innovative POC’s and applications in the shortest possible time scale. For example, Kumulos has recently updated their platform to be feature complete with Unity 3D. It’s now supports its full features set within Unity 3D allowing industrial mobile app owners to manage the content of their AR app, Manage Push Notifications, View Analytics, Generate Monthly Reports, Manage and Report on Crashes and if it calls for it also manage App Store Optimisation all from within one single pane of glass. It’s already being used in broad range of industries including Industrial AR in the Oil & Gas sector.

If you’re a CTO or Software Development Manager, kick-starting an AR initiative can be a fantastic way to leverage additional value from your existing desktop and mobile applications. As with any successful AR software project, the key is to always start with the end in mind and identify key commercial goals at the front end of the project. In order to leverage best results from any AR or emerging technologies project, the first consideration is to identify the problem and the commercial challenge that the technology seeks to solve.

Here at Mozenix, we’re busy delivering enterprise grade AR solutions for brands and industry 4.0 across a wide range of industry verticals. From healthcare, oil and gas and construction, to financial services, retail and beyond, we’ve got over a decade of experience in delivering highly robust, large-scale and complex AR solutions across some of the most highly regulated industries in the world. If you’re thinking about AR and are unsure where to start, it’s worth taking a couple of minutes to complete our readiness test to help refine your AR thinking and project plans. If you already have a defined set of AR requirements, feel free to contact Mozenix directly.