DirectIndustry e-Magazine - # 22 - MIXED REALITY - DirectIndustry e-Magazine


News coverage of virtual reality has exploded since Facebook’s Oculus Rift was released earlier this year. Now, the term augmented reality (AR) is entering the popular lexicon thanks to Nintendo’s smash hit game, Pokemon Go. AR should mushroom over the next five years, with smart glasses shipments expected to reach 27 million units.

AR is already a promising industrial tool. Heads-up displays with digital overlays can be used for hands-on training and remote assistance. AR is definitely spurring the development of tomorrow’s hands-free factory.

Fullpage Bentley Systems
Putting a hands-free instruction or training manual into the field of vision of an on-site engineer could be huge.

/ /

Heads-up displays with digital overlays can be used in hands-on training and remote assistance that promises true interactive mixed realities.   When it comes to immersive technology, virtual reality (VR) takes a back seat to augmented reality (AR). The main difference between VR and AR is that in VR, the person...

Banner Geserco
Neuroscience is driving the design of the interfaces
Courtesy of DAQRI

/ / / / / /

News coverage of virtual reality (VR) has exploded since Facebook’s Oculus Rift was released this year. Now, the term augmented reality (AR) is becoming a household term thanks to Nintendo’s hit game, Pokémon Go. Beyond gaming, AR can help architects, engineers and other professionals. But such applications require a great headset. DirectIndustry e-magazine offers some tips on making the best choice.


AR may be a bit more promising than virtual reality for industrial applications, given its fundamental difference—it allows you to layer virtual information right on top of the real-world background. The potential for visualization, training, maintenance and collaboration in situ is far greater when the two are combined. Two devices illustrate the current state of industrial applications.

1. DAQRI: The Smart Helmet

The DAQRI Smart Helmet (DSH) is a combination safety helmet and AR headset that overlays virtual instructions, safety information, training and visual mapping on a real-world background. Workers in the oil and gas, automation and manufacturing sectors often need to understand complicated instructions to perform complex processes. The DSH enables them to see digital information overlying different contexts—a Siemens controller, a scanning device or quality control metrology equipment.

The helmet comes with its own battery and docking station. The price varies from $5,000 to $15,000, depending on customization options. Autodesk, GE and Hyperloop are currently testing it.


DAQRI CEO Brian Mullins says:

A field engineer may be responsible for 600 different work packages, using some perhaps only once in a career. Having the added data when it’s needed makes a big impact. Augmented reality is going to be a top-down industry, similar to the evolution of smartphones from enterprise to consumer devices. At first, people only used them to stay connected at work and make decisions, and to transfer knowledge as needed. Slowly, over the course of decades, they evolved into today’s smartphone. We think this is beginning to happen with augmented reality.

The device’s face shield and injection-molded plastic helmet are ANSI-compliant. The inner part of the helmet’s shell is a combination of cast aluminum and carbon fiber composite.

The DAQRI 13-megapixel HD camera recognizes colors, 2-D targets and can track moving objects. The helmet uses Intel’s RealSense technology with two built-in infrared cameras. DAQRI integrates them with an infrared laser projector that can sense depth by measuring deflected infrared light. A low-resolution camera is linked to an industrial-grade inertial measurement unit (IMU), enabling the helmet to compute its relative position in real time. It also comes with four microphones, which allow users to call a technical expert in the company.

2. Metavision’s Meta 2: Neuroscience Drives the Interface

The Meta 2 has a 90-degree field of view, a tremendous breakthrough for industrial applications like training, maintenance and manufacturing. Being physically tethered to a workstation limits all kinds of training applications and use on a factory floor for assembly or maintenance.

According to CEO Meron Gribetz:

The idea here is for people to share holograms, making them a lot more connected with the work and with each other. The neural mechanism that explains it is called mirror neurons. This subsystem of our minds suggests that we understand collaborative work much better when we can see each other’s faces and hands in full 3D at zero latency. To leverage that, everything has to be visible south of the eyebrows—you can see my eyes and I can see yours. We’re networking the glasses, so I can send you a hologram of a 3D model. That way, we’ll both see it from our relative perspectives. Neuroscience is really driving the design of our interfaces.

Metavision is accepting pre-orders for the Meta 2 developer kit, priced at $949. The devices are expected to ship in Q3 of 2016.

It will soon be possible to reconstruct any 3D data as a large-scale digital hologram that appears to float in midair.


Scientific visualization, engineering design and medical imaging could soon benefit from 3D images that can be seen without headsets or special glasses.   There has been an explosion in the production of 3D data in recent years. Whether from product designs and layouts created using computer-aided design (CAD),...

This month, field mechanics for Boston’s commuter rail system will begin using augmented-reality smart glasses. Linked to a web interface through AMA XpertEye...

Interactive Dynamic Video is the revolutionary technology developed by Boston’s MIT that makes it possible to touch objects in videos. Mixing computer science...

  • Join our 155,000 subscribers

  • Courtesy of Fraunhofer IPA

    / / / /

    As the technology in robotics continues to advance, mobility has become a hot topic, especially for industry. Manufacturers are expressing increasing interest in robots that optimize production by navigating autonomously and working alongside employees safely.


    Martin Hägele is head of department Robot and Assistive Systems at the Munich-based Fraunhofer-Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA.

    Today mobility is considered a key technology for robotics in numerous applications ranging from industrial logistics via transportation tasks in care facilities to autonomous floor cleaning or lawn mowing. From early on, we have been developing solutions that enable robots to navigate freely and autonomously, which means without special infrastructure, even in unstructured environments.

    Advanced Capabilities

    With the rise of open-source frameworks like Robot Operating System (ROS) and ROS-Industrial, the integration and development of robotics systems has become easier and faster, he suggests.

    Higher available computing power, the advancement of 2D and 3D sensors and the accessibility of advanced software components have also combined to result in significant developments.

    At the technological core of our solutions here is a software toolbox which offers advanced capabilities for allowing a mobile robot to continuously localize itself, to map unknown environments, to plan optimized paths in dynamic settings and to configure and operate a fleet of autonomous mobile robots. For the German machinery supplier Bär Automation, for example, we implemented our navigation software on their automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that are now in operation in several automobile manufacturing plants.

    Instead of static assembly lines, car bodies are moved by AGVs through the car’s final assembly. The AGVs navigate fully autonomously so plant layouts may be quickly changed and vehicle routes may be adapted.

    Automating Transportation

    Courtesy of MiR

    Courtesy of MiR

    Also based in Germany, Mobile Industrial Robots ApS (MiR) produces and develops mobile robots for industrial applications, explains CEO Thomas Visti:

    Our MiR100 automates in-house transportation. Advanced technologies enable it to create its own map, ‘identify’ its driving area and surroundings or import 3D drawings of the building. A built-in camera and sensors allow it to run safely beside employees.

    MiR100 has been introduced at Scan A/S in Denmark, which manufactures fireplaces and wood stoves. The robot delivers bolts, screws and other parts for assembly, explains René Hannibaldsen, production manager.

    Before we got MiR100, an employee had to push the trolley from place to place. But of course it is problematic to use highly paid, manual labor for that type of task,” he says. “We save about half a full-time position by automating this process.

    So what will mobile robotics eventually be capable of within industry?

    Hägele expects to see more models equipped with arms and grippers to broaden their utility but is also excited about cloud navigation.

    This is an extension to our navigation toolbox: self-navigating mobile systems continuously send relevant sensor and status data to a cloud-based server. By integrating all information in an IoT cloud architecture, the entire fleet benefits from an up-to-date and accurate mapping for improved localization accuracy and robustness.

    And for Visti, the possibilities are infinite.

    The only limits are your imagination.

    Courtesy of Hybrid Air Vehicles

    The idea carries us back to the 1930s, ancient history for the younger generation. But the return of airships to our skies already has reached an advanced...

    Courtesy of Airbus

    / /

    Is this the end of jet lag? Thanks to a new LED system that mimics the different colors of the natural sunlight, the new Airbus A350 XWB counters or minimizes...

    Courtesy of COSY

    / / /

    COSY (Cognitive Operational Systems LLC) is a spinoff of the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Laboratory. Its beaconless technology enables robots to perform...

    Courtesy of Vega

    / / /

    The VEGAPULS 64 is the first radar level sensor for liquids that operates at 80 GHz. It is currently available from Vega, a German instrument maker. Previous generations of sensor, working at 26 GHz, could not be used in difficult industrial environments. Tripling the emission frequency gives the VEGAPULS 64 a beam angle of 3°, versus 10° for older models. This technological advance considerably improves sensor performance by reducing interference and false signals from condensation, foam, heating coils and agitators found in tanks. The result is much more accurate measurements, to ±2 mm.

    VEGAPULS sensors feature another significant improvement—a Bluetooth communications module for remote sensor management via tablet or smartphone. This wireless communications function, which Vega calls PLICSCOM Bluetooth, elicited particular interest at VNF, the agency managing France’s navigable waterways. Alain Bélière, from VNF’s technical services, added it to a VEGAPULS measuring water level in a lock.

    The sensor is in a hard-to-reach location and is powered by a solar panel. After considering several different wireless connection options, Bluetooth emerged as the simplest and most economical. Today, we can connect to the sensor from over 50 meters away. The time savings and ease of use are unsurpassed.

    The agency has already ordered several Bluetooth-equipped VEGAPLUS 64 sensors.


    Camille Rustici

    Camille Rustici is a Video Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…

    Read More

    Style Switcher

    Highlight Color:




    You can also set your own colors or background from the Admin Panel.