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How augmented reality is being used in manufacturing and retail

How augmented reality is being used in manufacturing and retail
Robert Bosch’s Dillingen-based BSH factory is known for many things. Opened in 1960, fuel pumps and food processors were the first to be made there. In 1999, the plant produced the world’s first automatic dishwasher. In 2015, the company opened an on-site technology center with an aim to further innovate and make eco-friendly dishwashers. 

Such constant expansion and innovation meant that whenever there was a need to ramp up the production line, experts from Dillingen had to travel to other locations to make sure they are procuring the right machinery. Naturally, this is expensive and time-consuming, both of which are frowned upon by today’s fast-paced consumer-driven world.

This is when Robert Bosch began to make use of augmented reality (AR), which supplemented reality through monitors or specialized glasses to enable long-distance visual interaction. Using smart glasses, a technician in Chuzhou, China, for example, can now contact experts in Germany immediately over 8,000 kilometers. He sends a picture of the machine and asks a question. The expert in Germany answers within a short time. The display indicates where the adjuster must intervene.

AR in the manufacturing segment 

Bosch isn’t the only company that has realized the advantages of AR in the manufacturing sector. Stressing that augmented reality can have a broad impact in the manufacturing sector, Mark Troester, VP of Strategy at Progress, gave instances of how this technology can be used. 

“It can be used to facilitate field, plant or factory floor assembly and maintenance, used for training of new employees or to reskill existing employees, and to support virtual reporting and analytics,” Troester said. “This can be accomplished by using augmented reality to guide a worker through maintenance and repair processes, to guide them through a training process, or to produce a human-realistic sense of depth that enables next-generation data visualization and immersive experiences.”

David Grand, Marketing Manager at Sirea & iAR, added that today augmented reality is used to guarantee security but reduce the time of intervention in manufacturing, and machine shops.

 “For example, we can identify by scanning a machine and synchronizing this recognition with data on a server to see if a machine is on, for how long, its energy consumption or all of the information you need which you can find on a supervision tool, but here, at the plant of the machine across your smart glasses, mobile or tablet. We can also add AR information regarding how to manipulate the machine or how to perform certain tasks.”

AR in the retail segment 

On the retail side, it’s all about improving the customer engagement so that conversion rates can be optimized, purchases can be expanded, and the lifetime value of the customer can be increased. Allowing customers to select and view products in the store or at home is a good starting point for retailers. 

“AR allows consumers to visualize products in a very very
Steve Curran, Founder and Chief Creative Officer,
Day 8 Studios
personal context in ways never before possible,” said Steve Curran, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Day 8 Studios. 

“Applications such as virtual ‘try-on’ for clothes and shoes use augmented reality combined with machine learning to detect body parts and overlay them with 3D renderings. Beauty retailers offer virtual make-up applications that use AR combined with facial recognition, to allow customers to try on many different makeovers with a few clicks.” 

A purse designer can allow consumers to personalize a design through thousands of options that are not available in-store. Furniture retailers offer consumers the ability to try out furniture in their own home using Augmented Reality and surface detection (known as SLAM) to detect floors, walls, and surfaces, allowing consumers to see and consider products in the context of their lives. They can place a 3D couch in their living room, place artwork on a wall, or see what a tile would look like on a surface. 

These kinds of digital experiences can be a powerful differentiator in the highly competitive retail sector. AR can be an ideal way to build brand loyalty and deliver customer value.


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