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Mainstreaming Augmented Reality

Development of the technology gathers pace towards becoming an integral part of the modern-day maintenance facility.

“It’s mainstream now,” stresses Paresh Patel, director of Mobile and IoT for Accenture. That is, use of augmented reality for training and supporting repair technicians is moving into practical use. Accenture has developed an application for Schneider Electric, is working with Bombardier on an aviation system and is talking to interested airlines.

The system uses Microsoft HoloLens goggles, which enable a tech to see a projection of a complicated aircraft component or system while working on it. By gesturing with his hand, the tech can disassemble the component into its constituent parts, then see each part in three dimensions. Another gesture will summon up a description of and technical data on the part. The parts can be rotated in three dimensions to examine different aspects.

It’s all highly visual and in three dimensions, right there in front of the tech while he works on a real aircraft. There is no need to type or click on a laptop or personal device, all commands can be given by simple flicks of a finger. The solution could help train techs on complicated repairs or it could enable remote experts to help techs thousands of miles away quickly understand a part and the steps to repair it.

A simpler and less expensive Accenture application uses Vuzix Virtual Reality glasses. These are similar to Google Glasses, but more robust for industrial applications. Here the glasses project simple images and step-by-step repair instructions on a tiny screen visible to the tech while he works on the aircraft. Simple clicks on a button on the glasses advance or reverse the steps and images.

Patel says both the HoloLens and the Vuzix glasses might be voice-activated in the future.

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