VR and AR Trends and Developments to Watch
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been garnering a lot of attention lately and grabbing headlines for their application in everything from video games to healthcare. VR and AR have already begun to change the way Americans do business.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been garnering a lot of attention lately and grabbing headlines for their application in everything from video games to healthcare. VR and AR have already begun to change the way Americans do business. As this innovative technology evolves and becomes more accessible, new options and uses are emerging. In this post, we’ll examine some of the key developments in these technologies.
What are VR and AR?
Before we delve into the topic, it is important to define VR and AR. Virtual reality is simply a simulated experience. VR can be realistic, based on actual situations and scenarios, or an imaginary and immersive experience. Its purposes range from entertainment to education and training.
Augmented reality is similar to VR in that it is an interactive, simulated experience. However, AR simulates a real-world environment. In AR, objects that exist in the real-world are digitally enhanced or “augmented.”
Predictive maintenance, simulations and solutions
Predictive maintenance utilizes sensors to collect and transmit key data points. Through algorithms and statistical models, this data can proactively identify potential failures before they occur and inform preventative measures.
VR and AR build on the predictive maintenance process by taking the information gleaned through supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and creating a simulation or representation of the issue within a smartphone app, VR headset, smart glasses or other device. Maintenance engineers can then work toward a solution within the digital environment. This ability to simulate and plan for issues allows engineers to be proactive; even taking steps such as ordering parts in advance.
Big benefits for suppliers
For suppliers, troubleshooting issues with customers and providing support can be a challenge. A phone call to discuss difficulties with a client naturally has its limitations, as the supplier cannot physically see the issue the customer is encountering, nor work with him or her in a hands-on manner to address it. Traveling to the customer to help understand and address the issue is costly and time-consuming. This is where AR offers suppliers an important advantage.
By using AR, offsite suppliers will be able to provide visual support to customers via smart phone applications and other devices. Through an AR application, suppliers will be able to clearly demonstrate to customers how to address their issues, replace a part, etc.
Addressing the STEM skills shortages
Like many other countries, the US is facing a shortage of workers skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Emerson’s fourth annual STEM survey found that two out of five Americans believe the shortage of skilled STEM workers in the US is at a crisis level. This is evidenced by the fact that within the manufacturing sector alone, roughly 3.5 million jobs are needed by 2025, but as many as 2 million of those positions may remain vacant due to the current lack of qualified candidates.
The primary cause of such a significant gap is training. Emerson’s survey also found that respondents felt that programs and opportunities for US students to develop STEM skills are extremely limited – only 30% of survey participants felt that teachers have sufficient resources to provide STEM education.
AR and VR can help give training a boost by allowing students interested in STEM-related careers to experience the role of an engineer or other professionals and navigate through plants and other real-world facilities and settings in a digital, simulated environment.
Earlier exposure to STEM careers through simulation plus enhanced training opportunities is a winning combination in the fight to produce more skilled STEM
The bottom line
AR and VR do not appear to be going anywhere. In fact, they’re gaining momentum. The simulated experience and intuitive nature of VR and AR have the potential to unlock a number of possibilities for plants and facilities, especially in regard to maintenance. By staying abreast of changes and developments within these technologies, facility managers can tap into the power of the latest tools to improve efficiency and cut costs.
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