Expect a surge in industrial augmented reality, says PTC

A ‘surge’ in augmented reality (AR) projects for the industrial sector is on its way. That’s the verdict of PTC following the release of its latest State of Industrial Innovation report.

The report (pdf), which focuses primarily on data from customers of Vuforia, a PTC-owned business, argues that many enterprises are piloting and adopting AR use cases, with organisations looking to take a phased approach to rollout.

PTC sees the path to value as beginning with initial proof of concept, to quickly become deployed across multiple areas, including customer-facing product and service initiatives. Indeed, the majority of organisations analysed said they were standing up projects and finding return on investment within 12 months.

Industrial enterprises “are keen to improve customer experiences, open up new revenue streams, and disrupt competition by leveraging the new augmented reality capabilities for product and service differentiation,” as the report puts it.

Yet these use cases are not just for employees and the factory floor, but for customer-facing deployments. Marketing and sales are the primary beneficiaries of AR deployment, the report notes. 50% of external customers surveyed said that the key business goal they were addressing with AR initiatives was improved sales and marketing, alongside differentiated product and service offerings.

Being able to more clearly visualise what is going on clearly has an effect. Take Cannondale as an example. The cycling equipment manufacturer originally deployed an AR companion with a bike called Lefty Ocho to dealers, showcasing features to potential customers or helping with service and parts inventory replenishment. The app has since been rolled out to customers themselves, enabling them to learn about features, mechanics, and proper use, as well as providing a ‘key voice-of-the-product feedback loop for Cannondale to incorporate into product development.’

“With this significant increase in AR technology adoption, enterprises undergoing digital transformation cannot afford to wait,” the report concludes. “Whether for enhancing products, services, and solutions offered to customers or to drive operational excellence within the enterprise, AR provides new transformative capabilities that cannot be overlooked.”

PTC has been looking to partnerships to create an end-to-end experience with Vuforia, as well as ThingWorx, its Industrial IoT platform. One of the more interesting benefits with the ThingWorx platform is the potential of machine learning to gain even further insights – taking it from a lab environment into the real business landscape. A PTC spokesperson told IoT News that ThingWorx customers can ‘not only leverage machine learning and perform automatically advanced analytics tasks, [but] can also operationalise predictive insights directly into a ThingWorx application, or even in an AR experience.’

In May, TeamViewer announced its remote access solution was integrated into PTC’s ThingWorx platform, enabling service technicians to securely access and control industrial devices remotely. Alongside IoT security provider Device Authority, the three companies demonstrated a connected, secure water pump unit at the recent IoT Tech Expo Europe event.

Take a look at the video below to see the demonstration, as well as how Vuforia gives technicians greater insights through augmented reality:

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