Wearable Technologies: Using Assisted Reality glasses on the plant floor

“Although I would have said in the early stages of the project that the utter lack of companies and vendors with actual solutions to benchmark and apply created challenges, we have not only risen above that but have reclassified it as an advantage.” (Google Glass on the shop floor, 2016)

-Peggy Gulick, Director Business Process Improvement, AGCO

Smart manufacturing applies flexible and self-adaptable production processes to deliver shorter product life-cycles and extreme customization. Wearable technologies, and specifically, smart glasses, can play an important role in the paradigm shift toward smart manufacturing by driving both input and output data from the factory floor, delivering critical information to personnel, receiving data while leaving arms and hands-free for work-related activities.

Assisted Reality (AR) is still relatively new, though it has been deployed successfully by manufacturers like AGCO and are seen on a growing number of factory floors.

Applications of Smart Glasses: The Difference between Augmented Reality and Assisted Reality

“When the tool is literally incorporated as a part of the employee’s person and data input is a simple tap or word away, information becomes more meaningful and timely and repeat problems decrease in volumes immediately.”

– Peggy Gulick, Director Business Process Improvement, AGCO

In a dynamic manufacturing environment, data flow increases both to and from the factory floor. Operators need to access an increasingly large knowledge base, and they must be prepared to learn more rapidly in order to accommodate rapid change. Real-time data, taken from the factory floor, is increasingly valuable, but the time it takes to enter data manually, or to hold a tablet, requires valuable time that would be more efficiently spent on the task at hand.

Technologies like tablets and wearable technology, such as smart glasses, help deliver information to help operators work efficiently and effectively despite an increasing variety of tasks. As previous technologies, like tablets, are overrun with the demand for adaptiveness and efficiency, wearables that do not require hands-on manipulation, which do not need to be held, and which can autonomously display and receive data from the factory environment, become increasingly necessary.

Assisted Reality Is a Reality

Augmented Reality and Assisted Reality are often used synonymously, but though they are both capable of delivering information directly into the user’s field of vision, assisted reality stops short of rendering 3D objects in real-time. Assisted reality would deliver a set of instructions, specifications, or readings. Augmented reality is capable of super-imposing the internal components of a jet engine, delivering an X-ray view. Augmented reality is much more sophisticated, but assisted reality is more attainable, especially if AR is new to your organization.

Polytron Delivers Assisted-Reality Smart Glasses Solutions

We are currently working with several glass vendors to develop a Smart Glasses solutions for our clients.

Targeted use is quality control checkpoints, changeover instructions and tracking, and workforce training and accountability for traceable actions on the plant floor.

We envision these capabilities will become a fundamental component of fully-integrated, collaborative manufacturing systems that respond in real time to meet changing demands and conditions.

Final Note: Limitations in using smart glasses on the factory floor

Active implementations so far have shown smart glasses to distort the user’s view, so they cannot be used while walking on the factory floor at this time. This is an important limitation to consider but one which is solved by strategic placement of the glasses at the point of use.

For more information about using smart glasses for your facilities, contact us, or read our next post on how to structure a smart glasses initiative.