A shift supervisor is standing in a large machine hall monitoring production. From her vantage point she can overlook the complete hall. She is carrying no laptop, no tablet, not even a phone. Instead she is wearing a plain pair of glasses and looking from one machine to the next. When she gazes at a machine, a window opens in her field of view, showing the machines’ current status. The shift supervisor can check which job the machine is working on, the number of finished items, and if all tools are in order. When she gazes away from the machine, the window disappears and she can look around the machine hall freely.
A promising vision, but is it realistic? Unfortunately at the current state of technology it isn’t – yet.
But the progress of companies like Microsoft, Magic Leap, or Daqri in the development of augmented reality glasses suggests that augmented reality will be ready for use in the near future. This is a giant step towards Industry 4.0: across the production process workers can be supported in their everyday tasks. But how can we prepare for this new technology? How can we already gain experience now to start developing user-friendly applications when operational devices are released, integrating augmented reality effectively and efficiently into work routines?
With the DeepSight project we at Centigrade have found a way to prototype augmented reality applications right now while identifying and leveraging possible advantages of this promising technology. For this we resorted to another technology that might be surprising in this context: virtual reality.