Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT Are Necessary Components of the Digital Transformation Journey

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4Q 2018 | IN-5319

Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) make for an ideal combination of technologies for businesses that rely on machine production and invest in both financial and human capital resources to secure daily operation and high-quality results. AR, AI, and IoT can combine to prevent errors to maintain high production, to accelerate task flow, and to increase employee efficiency. Capturing real-time data and translating that into in actionable information is key. It allows employees to accurately diagnose errors and immediately respond or to prevent issues in the first place through ongoing analytics and monitoring. These technologies have synergy in their strengths but also in their requirements to reach their full potential: network quality, cloud-supported platforms, sophisticated hardware and software, and more can delay implementations and progress. Consequently, expected technological advancements in these areas will impact AR, AI, and IoT and will enable businesses to maximize their total performance and eliminate losses by deploying these solutions in their operations.

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Fundamental Components of Machine and Employee Efficiency

NEWS


Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) make for an ideal combination of technologies for businesses that rely on machine production and invest in both financial and human capital resources to secure daily operation and high-quality results. AR, AI, and IoT can combine to prevent errors to maintain high production, to accelerate task flow, and to increase employee efficiency. Capturing real-time data and translating that into in actionable information is key. It allows employees to accurately diagnose errors and immediately respond or to prevent issues in the first place through ongoing analytics and monitoring. These technologies have synergy in their strengths but also in their requirements to reach their full potential: network quality, cloud-supported platforms, sophisticated hardware and software, and more can delay implementations and progress. Consequently, expected technological advancements in these areas will impact AR, AI, and IoT and will enable businesses to maximize their total performance and eliminate losses by deploying these solutions in their operations.

Currently there are numerous collaborations in the market that took to imitation to integrate these technologies. For example, in a collaboration between DAQRI’s Smart Helmet and IBM’s IoT Platform Maximo, IoT sensors provide data regarding machine status, allowing workers to visualize data in real time and to repair issues. Another recent solution developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon Sumerian, is an AR platform enabling users to build AR applications while leveraging IoT data from AWS IoT services.

How AR, AI, and IoT Can Work Together

IMPACT


AR, AI, and IoT supplement each other and can completely transform a number of critical elements of a work flow. By equipping assets with data collection sensors and connecting them with a supporting IoT infrastructure, businesses can monitor machine performance and task flow processes, where sensors are able to provide information like machine temperature, energy consumption, and other operational conditions. Machine-learning systems can analyze data and compare them with historical data that are stored in cloud systems; in parallel, algorithms can predict potential errors and provide notifications for maintenance before an issue arises. Consequently, IoT data is a big advantage for businesses, as it can be used to avoid extra costs from regular visits to check machines or to avoid production delays while prolonging machine life. This is especially important for companies facing an aging expert workforce and expensive, aging machines.

Employees can have access to this data any time from any device given a properly implemented platform. With this access, even more use cases are opened up. AR can be introduced when a maintenance issue is identified. Smart glasses, mobile phones, or tablets leveraging suitable AR software are able to support industrial workers to diagnose the problem while providing them with step-by-step instructions and navigation to address the issue based on real-time data from the IoT platform. Another asset of AR technology is data visualization and hands-free work (with smart glasses)—ideal for employees that operate in hazardous environments, for those that have limited flexibility, and for those jobs where it is ineffective to use handbooks and manuals. AI can be involved in problem solving and decision making, machine vision for spatial tracking and object detection, advancements in voice recognition, and more, and these uses will strengthen the AI proposition.

Apart from employee efficiency, AR and AI are powerful tools for businesses that target immersive experiences for use cases like training or customer engagement. For example, AR platforms like Blippar can leverage AI and machine vision to enable smartphones or tablets to recognize objects, faces, map position, and so on and build out more universally applicable marketing material. Machine vision and AR can also reshape educational methods in all levels, from elementary school to university research labs as well as high demanding and complex training simulators. Retention and speed of learning are objectively improved with visual assistance, and AR can provide this service.

Looking Forward 

RECOMMENDATIONS


The digital transformation journey has already begun for most businesses that have realized the advantages of emerging technologies. It is expected that digital transformation and new technologies will reshape the global economy just as the Internet did. As a part of this digital journey, businesses aiming to expand or differentiate their product/service portfolio, to automate and optimize internal processes, to provide customized solutions, and more can look to AR as a visual, human-connected element of the digitization story. AR, AI, and IoT can contribute to accomplish these business goals, as these solutions can be applied internally for optimizing operations or externally as a part of product/service differentiation and marketing technique.

Adoption of transformative tech is not an easy decision despite its possible benefits. High capital expenditures and operating expenditures, along with often difficult-to-define key performance indicators and Return on Investment (ROI) metrics, can hold back investment. As a result, large-scale organizations will be the main adopters at scale. However, long-term ROI can be guaranteed for reasons already discussed. It is also known that radical changes in business strategies need strong leadership to be embraced and adopted, especially in some traditional segments where transformative technologies will require more proof of concept regarding their implementation. Consequently, digital transformation requires a strong vision and a well-prepared audience. For early adopters, existing use cases can guide them to identify their most promising areas of implementation; as these markets as a whole mature, areas of promise and possible return will grow as well. The number of active companies offering professional services; connectivity and device platforms; content services; and more can more completely support companies with transformative technologies by identifying suitable use cases, recommending software and hardware, educating employees, and eliminating potential risk.

Despite some barriers in terms of cost investment and strategy differentiation, AR, AI, and IoT are revolutionary technologies that offer novel capabilities and value for all enterprise verticals. There are numerous use cases that prove the importance and benefits of these technologies, while external support from third-party providers can accelerate technology deployment even in small- to medium-scale organizations that have the vision to become leaders and offer revolutionary services.

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