The guidelines are designed to guide AR technology vendors in developing future products for industrial businesses, both large and small. UI Labs and the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) announced the guidelines in a document released on April 11.
Enterprises will benefit from these guidelines, also called “functional requirements,” because they will encourage interoperability among hardware and software products and make it easier to request bids for AR products, AREA said.
The guidelines are obviously voluntary but still deemed to be a consensus among many manufacturers, including AR device makers, that could contribute to greater adoption of AR. Even so, AREA didn’t use the term “standards” in referring to the guidelines.
“One of the major challenges of deploying AR and VR [virtual reality] has been the lack of standards for hardware, software and interfaces,” said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.
“Anything that can help get standards in place will accelerate the adoption and deployment of AR. That said, this is a first step, not the endpoint,” Gold said. “This effort is important if it really does influence solution providers to standardize and allow interoperability.”
Dima Tokar, an analyst at Machnation, said AR has the “potential to revolutionize many industrial use cases, but without a standard, it’s difficult to implement a solution that works across multiple vendors.”
Just in the enterprise internet of things category, AR guidelines could affect vendors that provide devices, connectivity, middleware, applications, integration and services, he said.
AR technology is different from virtual reality (VR) in that AR displays new information on top of an existing environment. A worker can use glasses, headsets or tablet computers to provide a composite view of the real and virtual worlds.
For example, an aerospace worker could try out a virtual design for an aircraft wing on an existing fuselage. A shop foreman could see where a new part needs to be inserted in a complex assembly line.
The hardware guidelines from AREA outline storage, connectivity, battery and other requirements for AR devices. For example:
- Device batteries should have a minimum life of 12 hours and be able to be swapped out in less than five minutes while wearing gloves.
- The latest low-power Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless standard should also be used.
- Minimum on-board storage should be 128 GB.
- AR goggles, headsets or tablets should provide a 3D view with a minimum of 85 degrees for field of visions in both directions – horizontal and vertical.
- AR devices should support a web browser.
- AR devices should support a pointer control and a wireless microphone with noise cancellation.
For AR software, the guidelines call for:
- A user interface that “can be learned by non-software literate personnel,” meaning not just a computer science engineer, software engineer or technical writer.
- Support for several 3D model software input formats, including Creo, AutoDesk, Siemens PLM, Catia, SAP Visual Enterprise and STEP Files.
- An output application that can be used by phones, tablets and both binocular and monocular head-mounted displays.
- Content storage to support 128-bit encryption in transit and at rest, as well as two-factor authentication.
- Wearable head-mounted displays that allow a manufacturing worker to pinch fingertips on right and left hands and then pull hands together to zoom in and pull hands apart to zoom out.
- Displays that allow workers to rotate fingertips to rotate 3D content.
There are also a series of recommendations for software support extended to workers at small and medium enterprises and for the ability to link internet of things data through the use of QR codes, Near Field Communications and Bluetooth.
UI Labs and AREA said the new documents are designed to help improve performance and efficiency for manufacturers in the areas of employee training and safety, factory and field operations, machine assembly, inspection and repair, and manufacturing floor space and product design.
Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar and Procter & Gamble initiated the guidelines process through a UI Labs collaboration group called the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute(DMDII). The other 62 organizations assisting in the process included AR providers, universities and government agencies.
AR has the potential to transform manufacturing, but wider adoption requires collaboration among industrial companies and AR providers, said Thomas McDermott, executive director of DMDII, in a statement.
AREA said the guidelines should be viewed as “living documents” subject to further development. AREA is creating a “Functional Requirements Committee” to ensure the requirements become integral in the further development of an enterprise AR ecosystem.