Augmented Reality with Thingworx Studio
Our take on the concept Augmented Reality is Industrial Augmented Reality with ThingWorx Studio. What is Augmented Reality and how can organizations leverage on this technic? Augmented Reality or "AR" in short form is at the latest since the gigantic success of Pokemon Go on everyone's lips. Within months after the release of the app, the sales exceeded the threshold of 1 billion US dollar.
But what is this AR and where are the applications? Augmented reality is the extension of the perception of reality. Frequently an extended reality is understood to mean only the visual representation of information, ie, the addition of images or videos with computer-generated additional information or virtual objects by means of insertion / superposition.
In addition to the obvious application to incorporate games into our human reality, AR can also be used in service, as assembly instructions or also for displaying machine data. Another very large field is the marketing and sales area. Smartphones or tablets can be used as devices. Great in coming are AR glasses, like the Microsoft Hololens. The Google Glass, which was introduced several years ago, was therefore far ahead of its time. Unfortunately, the necessary technology was not yet available, so that the device has almost never left the beta status.
Currently, e.g. ThyssenKrupp uses the Microsoft Hololens in elevator maintenance. There the service technicians are supported with all necessary data needed for maintenance. So the technician always has his hands free for his work and all data always in the right place in view. The most famous location is certainly the One World Trade Center in New York City. The fastest elevator in the US is installed in this building, which brings its passengers to the 120th floor in just 60 seconds.
How important AR will be in the future, can also be seen from the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook does not miss an opportunity to emphasize the importance of AR for Apple in the future. The first step will be a new SDK for IOS 11 called AR Kit. On Youtube you can already admire the first demos from the beta of IOS 11.
PTC has already recognized this trend some time ago and with the acquisition of Vuforia, Kepware and Coldlight has created the basis for the future, which is today known as Thingworx.
Thingworx is a platform, which in addition to AR also IoT is to be found. The great strength of this package is that I can aggregate state and sensor data from machines, data from the PLM platform Windchill and 3D data from Creo Parametric or Creo Illustrate to clear dashboards or an AR Experience. Thingworx also allows me to create simple apps for simple applications. This can be done with Thingworx Navigate.
PTC calls an AR application case "AR Experience", which is created in Thingworx Studio and it could not be easier. Without great previous knowledge, you can create a working AR experience in this environment after only 2 minutes. The application is browser-based and can be used quickly without large installations. Thingwork Studio has been developed for a broad user base and does not require expert knowledge. For example, non-technical departments such as sales or marketing can use the application and quickly create and customize AR-Experiences.
The Experience can be viewed via the app Thingworx View, which can be downloaded free of charge to a smartphone or tablet via the Apple Appstore and the Google Playstore. The app is also available for Windows tablets, e.g. the Microsoft Surface. In order for the app to know what to display, a so-called Thingmark is needed. This is similar to a QR code, but has a lot more of functionality. This is made available from Thingworx Studio and can be simply printed out or emailed to customers.
Finally, I would like to show you two simple applications for AR that can be created without great effort.
Case 1 - Augmented Reality for Sales:
A customer of you is interested in a larger machine that is made by your company. Sales is supposed to discuss the machine at the customer's premises, including the installation location of the machine. It starts with the fact that you load the machine in Thingworx Studio and adjust the size ratios so that a 1: 1 image is created. You can add data sheets and a few highlights, upload this to the server, print the Thingmark ... finished. Simply place the Thingmark on the floor and use the Thingworx View app. Now you can walk with the customer around the virtual machine and explain all areas. You can also try out different locations with your customer in order to find an optimal installation location that ensures a perfect integration into the processes of the customer. Your customer can also download the Thingworx View app and experiment with the appropriate Thingmark in his workshops.
Case 2 - Augmented Reality for Service:
You would like to create a manual on how your customer can exchange an oil filter on a machine. To do this, you can create the necessary steps directly on the 3D model of the machine using Creo Illustrate. Import into Thingworx Studio and add all other data, such as Data sheets, part numbers with order links and optionally also the live stock of the filter. The corresponding Thingmark can be attached to the machine as a sticker or can also be laser-engraved, thanks to the output as a vector format. With appropriate sensor data you could also add the current filter state with remaining life in the experience. Your customer is thus in a position to do service work without prior knowledge. He can see on the spot how long his oil filter lasts and if necessary order a replacement filter at your company. In this way, you can create an even closer bond between your customers and your company.
I would like to refer to the blog article of my colleague Lars Björs, who has already written about the AR integration in Creo Parametric 4.0 M010.