HDK 1.0.6 Release

Partners,
We are happy to announce that 1.0.6 has been released for the HDK.

You can update your device via the FOTA application.

You will be able to find the release notes within the developers portal.

Regards,
Realwear Dev

Industrial AR – the Protective Equipment Backlash

This is fifth post in a series looking at when immersive Augmented Reality (AR) will be implemented in heavy industry and why we believe it is still some time away.

Our previous posts covered:
When Will AR be deployed in Heavy Industry?
Industrial AR – The Application and Content Backlash
Industrial AR – The Fragility Backlash
 
Industrial AR – The Non-Hands-Free Backlash

We’ve finally come to the fourth major hurdle we see between immersive AR and heavy industrial deployment at scale for daily operations, the protective equipment backlash

In heavy industry, hard hats, eye protection, hearing protection and gloves are often mandated by regulation or company policy.   These come in many varieties for different industries and situations, for example eye protection includes both compact safety glasses and larger oversize goggles.

Hard hats may include those with wide brims, front-only brims, or visors and come in Type I, protecting only against impacts from above, or Type II which also protect against front, back and lateral impacts.  Some industries use hardened baseball caps known as bump caps.  Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be tested to meet exacting industry standards, that vary across different countries.

AR devices with see through optics must work with PPE and with users’ eyeglasses with varying prescriptions and yet still be visible in both low light conditions and in glaring sunlight.   Industrial workers will have to wear AR devices together with PPE for their entire 8 – 12 hour shift without discomfort, eyestrain or excessive blocking of peripheral vision – and no AR devices have yet achieved this.

With the four forms of backlash we’ve covered so far, you can now see why immersive AR in heavy industry will take until 2021-2023 to perfect.  However, AR is beginning to be deployed at small scale in some real industrial situations. It’s not immersive AR – but a simpler AR on rugged enterprise grade tablets with their non-see-through, 2D displays.

Such tablets began to be deployed at scale in heavy industry at scale in 2014 – seven years after the launch of Apple’s original iPad.  It took those seven years to address the challenges of ruggedization, IT security, device management, battery life, display brightness, glove touch and apps and content.

In our next post, we’ll explore why we believe head mounted tablets  will provide shorter term value to address all four challenges, and can provide a bridge with which to cross the chasm to immersive AR in heavy industry.

Sanjay Jhawar
President and Chief Product Officer
RealWear

Industrial AR – The Non-Hands-Free Backlash

This is the fourth post in a series looking at when immersive Augmented Reality (AR) will be implemented in heavy industry and why we believe it is still many years away.

In the first post of this series, When Will AR be deployed in Heavy Industry?  we stated a projection of five to seven years and now we continue our examination of the four types of resistance that keep companies in stuck in trial programs, with the non-hands-free backlash.

A field worker in heavy industry is often in situations where they must use tools, hold other equipment, wear gloves or work at heights.  Safety considerations require one or both hands to be available.

Tablets with work instructions must be repeatedly picked up, manipulated and viewed and then set down again, so that the manual work may then be done.  From a productivity perspective, an AR device to show you augmented work instructions or guide you through complex manual procedures that needs to be driven with swipes or taps on the side of the head – or with arm or hand gestures in mid-air – is no better than a tablet.   Both slow the user down, and in many situations can also be unsafe.

Trials and pilots have shown poor user acceptance or increased safety risks for non-hands-free approaches. Voice recognition could be the answer – but the consumer grade voice recognition commonly found in current AR systems performs very poorly in industrial environments, where ambient noise levels typically range between 80 – 100 dB.

The challenges are adding up.  The hands-free challenge, the content and application backlash  and the fragility backlash  are conspiring to keep early generation AR devices for heavy industry stuck in trials and pilot programs.  In the next post we will cover the final barrier – the protective equipment backlash.

Sanjay Jhawar
President and Chief Product Officer
RealWear

Industrial AR – The Fragility Backlash

This is the third post in a series looking at when immersive Augmented Reality (AR) will be implemented in heavy industry and why we believe it is still some years away.

In our first post When Will AR be deployed in Heavy Industry? we stated a projection of five to seven years for full, immersive 3D AR, and now we continue our examination of the four types of resistance that keep companies in stuck in trial programs, with the fragility backlash.

Today’s immersive AR devices are for the most part trying to bridge both consumer and enterprise opportunities. The one size fits all model falls apart when you dig into the details.

The glasses form factor, like the original Google Glass, is intended to find eventual consumer acceptance, and vendors are hoping that enterprise use can be rapidly followed by consumer adoption.   Worn as glasses, supported by the bridge of the nose and two touch points above the ear, smart glasses must be as thin and light as possible and minimize the appearance of the camera lest the user is branded a “glassh-le”.

Such devices cannot be made robust enough to survive heavy industry environments – where other computing devices in use are required to be dustproof, waterproof and submersible, withstand multiple 2 meter drops, and meet military standards for ruggedization.

Industrial enterprise equipment that must be used for 8-12 hours a day, every day, for 3+ years at a time – not for entertainment but for critical operations – require engineering that is incompatible with thin and light glasses.

The delicate holographic diffraction optics used for immersive 3D AR are vulnerable in industrial environments. No device remotely close to a pair of regular glasses (as of 2016), or even head mounted immersive AR products like Microsoft’s Hololens has a battery life that will come close to a full shift (8-12 hours) of continuous use, especially if used for two-way video collaboration with remote mentors, an important industrial use case.

In our fourth post in we will address the non-hands-free backlash.

Sanjay Jhawar
President and Chief Product Officer
RealWear

Industrial AR – The Application and Content Backlash

In our first post we answered the question, When Will AR be deployed in Heavy Industry?

The short answer is that at RealWear we believe that immersive, 3D AR in industrial settings, especially heavy industry, is five to seven years away from large scale deployment. We stated that there are four forms of backlash, or resistance that stand in the way of large scale immersive AR in heavy industry. In this post we’ll look closely at the first one – the application and content backlash.

Immersive 3D AR requires technical documentation, drawings and work procedures, to be translated into an AR format suitable for display on stereo see-through optics. The challenge is that there is a massive amount of content that exists in today’s PDF documents, 2D technical drawings and legacy 3D CAD models and no clear standard for an AR format for this content.

Today’s AR devices are fragmented with no single display standard, angle of view, resolution, operating system, brightness and contrast range, level of transparency and color gamut. The amount of data to be displayed and the way it is displayed and consumed depends critically on these characteristics.

Christi Fiorentini, Senior Manufacturing Applications Engineer at Lockheed Martin, said at the Augmented World Expo conference in Santa Clara, CA in June 2016 that the amount of information needed to manufacture the C130 Hercules military transport plane, originally designed between 1951 and 1954 and still the workhorse of the US Air Force, is so large that converting it from current PDF and 2D formats into immersive AR content would cost more than designing a new transport plane from scratch!

The last major update was the C130J in 1999 and the move from paper and blueprints to PDFs and 2D digital documents was undertaken then over several years. In other industries, too, the volume of legacy technical content is so large that the investment to transform it for AR will be huge and will take years, and cannot be undertaken until the target formats and devices have stabilized. The risk that the investment will be stranded by rapidly changing device formats and capabilities is just too high at present.

In the next post we will address the fragility backlash.

Sanjay Jhawar
President and Chief Product Officer
RealWear

When Will AR be Deployed in Heavy Industry?

We are often asked by customers, software partners, investors and industry analysts, “When will Augmented Reality (AR) be deployed in industry?”

In industry, especially in heavy industries like complex heavy manufacturing, oil & gas, energy, utilities, aviation and others*, demos show the seductive promise of virtual 3D objects and augmentation appearing to co-exist with the real world, helping workers execute assembly, maintenance and repair procedures in less time and with fewer errors. It’s like science fiction come to life.

The reality has been that such systems, whether based on Microsoft’s Hololens, smart helmets or AR smart glasses or from a variety of companies, have been stuck in the innovation labs of large enterprises, or in small pilots of 5-20 users – and none of these has been deployed on a scale of even hundreds in true daily operations.

So, is it just a matter of time? How long until we can expect to see the first customer with 1,000 units in service?

RealWear Crossing the Chasm

It took almost seven years from the launch of the Apple iPad 1 in 2007 until 2014 when heavy industrial enterprises began deploying tablets to the front-line workforce in large numbers. In those seven years, ruggedization, IT security, battery life, display brightness, glove touch and apps and content were all improved and stabilized to the point where tablets were deployable beyond a pilot into the real daily working environment.

At RealWear we believe that immersive, 3D AR in industrial settings, especially heavy industry, is five to seven years away from large scale deployment. There is a chasm to cross and it is due to the conservatism of large industrial enterprises in the face of the experiences of the pilots and limited trials in various industries.

In our next post of a small series, we will look at the first of four forms of backlash – or enterprise and user resistance – that manifest themselves time and time again in the pilot programs and limited trials for industrial AR.

Heavy Industry others*:  chemical operations, rail transportation, engineering and construction

Sanjay Jhawar
President and Chief Product Officer
RealWear