AR provides an overlay of digital information for the real world. The technology can take information, such as inspection records, and display it on the relevant object for additional insights. This is why the technology can potentially revolutionise manufacturing and engineering, aiding workers with their progress. In theory, adding the Internet of Things (IoT) into the mix improves the experience.

How does AR and IoT work together?

If AR can supply the overlay, IoT can supply the information. IoT is the digitisation of the physical world, enabling the collection and monitoring of data. 31 billion devices will be connected by the year 2021, according to ABI Research. The user is supplied more information in numerous different ways, if AR and IoT are merged.

For example,  employees like field maintenance workers can access vital machine operating systems,  to assist in maintenance decisions. A worker can gain the full diagnostic information of the machine, and use the information to influence his actions.

It is worth noting that the system would make suggestions, not concrete actions. Workers use their intuition and rationale for the choices they make. Data compliments future decisions.

How can AR and IoT be used?

ABI Research suggests the following use cases of AR and IoT:

Data reuse: AR applications allow more efficient reuse of existing enterprise application data. Using these data in AR applications improves its value because they are delivered in a visually relevant way.

Data contextualisation: AR applications can be used to better contextualize information across a range of industries and job functions. In manufacturing, this could mean information for 3D product navigation, step-by-step work instructions, and remote visual guidance.

Work error reduction: AR applications can reduce errors made by workers in various occupational tasks. The technology can place the right information and instructions at the location of the work task.

Workforce multiplier: AR makes training more efficient, and workers can do more by themselves versus sending multiple employees.

Safety: For instance, AR applications can include not only written instructions for removing or replacing a part on a machine, but can also include visual instructions.

IoT and AR

A bold future for AR and IoT

In essence, I agree with ABI Research. The technology drives enterprise productivity through the delivery of more contextual and operationally relevant data, which is displayed over an object. Google is heavily investing into enterprise AR, which can work well with IoT. Unlike consumers who may take a while to adopt, businesses are ready and primed to have a go.

At the moment, it is more a case of when.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske
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