Augmented Reality and the Connected Factory
A few weeks ago at OpenText™ Enterprise World 2018, I had the pleasure of demoing our brand new Microsoft HoloLens Augmented Reality application for OpenText™ Extended ECM to our partners and customers.
You’re probably thinking, what does an Augmented Reality device have to do with ECM? Let me explain.
Augmented Reality is all about bringing information from different worlds (real or fictional) together. That is exactly what OpenText Extended ECM is all about; bridging two worlds of information. We connect the information locked in business applications to other business applications and to collaboration platforms like Office 365, giving you a complete view of your information. Our application, and basically Augmented Reality, is all about that.
Our application demo is built around Connected Factories or, in other words; we provide managers and engineers a complete view of their physical assets, the related documentation (service manuals, installation manuals, etc.) and related information like Big Data Analytics (predictive maintenance, risk analysis, buyer information), IoT data (real time machine data, efficiency rate, downtime), business data (supplier, stock level, manufacturer, location) and Process information (assigned engineer, maintenance steps, escalations).
In the demo, we start with a manager who is notified about an item during the daily summary that maintenance is scheduled because of a possible disruption that can be avoided with predictive maintenance calculated by OpenText™ Magellan™.
The manager reviews the notification and schedules an engineer—of course, this can be done automatically with OpenText Magellan and OpenText™ Process Suite, but what kind of a demo would that be. The manager is presented with an overview of the virtual production floor with the assets’ status and the steps to take.
Once the engineer is assigned, the engineer is notified of the schedule and can do the maintenance. The engineer is also guided by the application, able to get instructions provided by Microsoft® Cortana (coming from the Extended ECM integration with SAP) and review documents, videos and 3D models (with see-through views that show the involved part or augmented on the physical asset) that are stored in the business workspace of the asset or part (also integrated with SAP).
When maintenance is complete, OpenText Process Suite updates all the systems, completes the maintenance task and the process. All visually (augmented) guided.
Future or present?
Although a lot of the projects with Augmented Reality are in the ‘preview,’ ‘beta’ or ‘investigation’ stage, a lot of real-life applications have already been developed, like virtual guides in your just-developed new home that allow you to walk though it before it’s even built. Ford already uses AR to design some of their cars, reducing R&D spend and design time, making them more agile and competitive in costs.
Recent visits to customers and partners involved use cases for boat wiring, so an engineer can ‘see through’ a boat wall and ceiling, revealing the wiring that is applied hidden behind the panels. We talked about the ability for real-time designs, tweaking applications and machines while seeing real-time feedback from the Analytics platform, creating digital factories allowing you to see what is happening in remote locations and even using them in environments where it would be too difficult for a human to be physically. All of these projects involve multiple information sources coming together, showing a holistic view of the information in real-time.
Augmented Reality is all about bringing information from different worlds (real or fictional) together. That is exactly what OpenText Extended ECM is all about.
Ideal use case
Which uses cases would AR be ideal for? My personal opinion is that there will be a purpose in any environment. Currently, because of the investment of the hardware, not all use cases are a good fit yet, but when the devices get cheaper (and that happens very fast nowadays) it will broaden quickly to areas such as:
- eLearning, for guiding you through the information
- Real-time assistance as described
- Test scenarios without the need to physically create the items
- Fine tuning big data without re-creating the models or investigating them
- Remote vision (surgery / radiation / under water / space)
So, what’s ahead?
For our business, I see huge opportunities in the areas of:
- Security (augmented audits of systems, data centers, offices)
- Privacy (GDPR, assessments, interviews, practices)
- Data enrichment (environment scans, recognition of voice and objects, location)