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ITTechEx is forecasting the market for augmented reality (AR) to grow to over $20bn for AR headsets alone, according to a recent report published by the firm.
The newest AR tools are on display in various sectors. For instance, AR goggles, recently displayed by the US Army, are designed to allow the dog handlers to give the animal signals and directions safely out of harm’s way if they are scouting for hazardous materials. Dogs are unlikely to ever to work in electricity generation maintaining turbomachinery. But humans will for the foreseeable future, likely one day with the help of AR headsets.
These tools are already helping to train new hires in the turbomachinery sector much faster in complex engineering actions and shop-floor assembly tasks while helping engineers and designers devise new solutions. And they are being harnessed in the field to simplify inspection, add precision to routine inspections and to assist troubleshooters in isolating root causes.
Baker Hughes GE, Elliott, Siemens, Howden, MAN Energy, MTU Maintenance, GE Aviation and others are already using augmented reality tools in their offices, factories and energy plants. Daqri, Microsoft, Ubimax, PTC, Upskill, RealWare, HTC, Glass, Atlas Copco, Worklink are among the experts producing them.
Turbomachinery controls and instrumentation have been relatively slow to evolve. But an unprecedented wave of technological innovation over the past decade is bringing about drastic change.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digitalization, microprocessors, new software platforms, the cloud, advanced analytics, machine learning, wireless technology, mobility, connectivity, augmented reality, virtualization, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, big data, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and many other breakthroughs have advanced the field like never before. The advantages include remote monitoring and operation, digital twins, remote field service, maintenance automation, real-time plant and fleet management, tighter inventory control, fewer unscheduled outages, and longer plant and equipment lifespans.
Turbomachinery International Magazine has been keeping up with these advancements. Read our feature story in our July/August 2020 issue titled "Evolution of turbomachinery controls: Playing catchup with tech innovation."
Virtual reality (VR) immerses the user in a digital environment on a computer screen or other digital device that is a version of real life. The latest versions of VR allow the user to roam through a virtual world and create realistic-seeming motions, scenes and experiences.
Augmented reality (AR) deals with overlaying virtual objects on top of a real-world environment. PDFs, diagrams, lists of instructions and other aids are superimposed on a device, such as eyeglasses, so the user is assisted in viewing, understanding or carrying out a physical action.
Mixed reality (MR) is an extension of AR that goes beyond mere overlays of data or documents to anchor virtual objects to the real world. In other words, virtual data is tied to the physical object in such a way that as the user moves, the virtual object adjusts to continue in alignment with the physical object. AR and MR are often used interchangeably.
Different headsets fulfill different requirements – but most augmented and mixed reality products currently cater to an enterprise audience over a consumer market, however, this will change in the future. With improvements in technology and design, augmented reality and mixed reality will continue to grow.