Augmented Reality Defined

What is Augmented Reality (AR), and where does it fit in relation to other ‘reality’ technologies in the market today? Locating these technologies isn’t cut and dry.
There is some overlap and they are better understood as a spectrum, rather than distinct items. The Milgram Extended Reality Spectrum is a useful framework for understanding these technologies.
AR Tool Change

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Extended Reality (XR) Spectrum

Milgrum Extended Reality Spectrum

Extended Reality (XR) refers to all the real-and-virtual environments generated by computer technology and wearables – in other words a spectrum of capabilities.

AR Digital Twin
Reality: The most familiar end of the spectrum is reality, the physical world that we can experience with all of our senses, particularly physical touch.
Assisted Reality: Assisted reality refers to projecting additional information into a user’s field of vision, hands-free. It doesn’t change what the user is seeing, nor is it aware of the geometry of the user’s environment. It only adds an extra layer of information into their peripheral vision – Google glasses or RealWear headsets are great examples of this.
Augmented Reality (AR): AR is an overlay of computer-generated content in the real world that can superficially interact with the environment in real-time. With AR, there is no “occlusion” between CG content and the real-world. The end user can experience this on headsets but more commonly on typical mobile devices. Generally these experiences will include text, graphics, videos, animations and sounds. Essentially, AR superimposes digital information on the material or physical world, like heads-up displays in a plane or in cars.
Mixed Reality (MR): MR is an overlay of synthetic content anchored to, and interacting with, real world objects in real time. With Mixed Reality experiences, computer-generated objects are visibly obscured by objects in the physical environment. When implemented well, MR should be a perfect union of digital and physical content interacting seamlessly.
Augmented Virtual Reality (aVR): Immediately next to Virtual Reality on the spectrum, augmented virtual reality  takes content from the physical world and adds to a virtual experience to give the end user a more immersive feel. This could be 360º video capture for scenery or pre-recorded audio.
Virtual Reality (VR): On the opposite end of the spectrum is Virtual Reality (VR). These experiences are composed of entirely digital content, from computer generated graphics to sounds and locations. In some cases this can include content meant to mimic aspects or environments from the real-world, such as walking through a virtual layout of a plant. The defining trait of these experiences is not the content, but how the user is going to experience it.

Types of Augmented Reality

The AR that people are most familiar with is video see-through technology or VST, which allows you to view through a tablet or phone.
The second type of AR is lens-based applications that employ Ocular see-through technology or OST such as Microsoft HoloLens. AR information is projected in the lens and your brain puts two and two together, and stitches it together to create an “augmented view” of reality.
The third flavor is called Projection AR – where a projected image is mapped onto a specially designed work surface, creating a direct overlay on the parts where a user is working.
AR Maintenance

The objects and users can move around in the environment, but the AR experience is limited to the fields of view of both the fixed projector and supporting camera for tracking. A projection-based Augmented Reality system can provide user instructions or assistance in a variety of media such as:

Use Case:
Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs)

Remote FAT
In our case, our machinery is produced overseas, so sometimes an onsite FAT is problematic.
But FATs must take place, so we’ve instituted virtual FATs where we create all the documentation and capture it in AR.
Technicians go around the machine wearing AR headsets capturing key data and processes while the machine is running, including HMI outputs, and any sort of validation criteria that our customer cares about. We’re able to document that all using AR so that a customer can experience it for themselves, and we can follow up with live AR sessions as necessary.

This approach can be particularly useful in an automation engagement where the packaging machine may already be in the customer facility, and the automation components are being assembled outside of the facility. We can use AR to recreate a “combined” view if you will.

Augmented Reality for Packaging Operations

If you haven’t read our page on Augmented Reality for Packaging Operations, find out how AR can be used to help with training, work instructions, inspection instructions and compliance, remote collaboration, and performance monitoring and analytics.