Factory 4.0 connects to virtual and augmented reality


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It is not science fiction, but a reality increasingly implanted in Spanish industry. If less than a decade ago, augmented and virtual reality were technologies that were not very widespread in Spanish society, the truth is that little by little it has become familiar and installed in different areas of our lives. But where it has been discovered as a great ally is in the factories, where it is already considered a key element in what is the digital transition and
is positioned as one of the technologies that will be implemented in most of them
, regardless of the sector of activity.

In fact, experts see that the development of augmented and virtual reality applied to the business world is “unstoppable” and, according to the vice president of Industry of Capgemini Invent, Carlos Garcia, in five years there will be a “quite relevant” implementation in Spanish companies. And it is that it not only helps to improve the effectiveness and productivity among the factory staff since it reduces errors and, therefore, also costs, but also gives greater safety to the operator.

As detailed by Carlos García, virtual and augmented reality is being used in four areas of the industry. On the one hand, during the design and assembly process as it allows “testing situations and testing the product before manufacturing it.” Likewise, it is an allied technology to facilitate
identification of errors in the company
and in the same way it gives support in repair and maintenance tasks.

Informative value

The fourth element, but not least, is that it is a tool that greatly facilitates the training of workers. As explained Pedro Saez, CEO of Neosentec – a company dedicated to designing and developing augmented reality -, what is sought with this technology is to be able to transfer to the worker the information that the company has digitized “at the right time and in the right way. And is that
augmented reality
, it states Luis Galo, Head of Artificial Intelligence at Lantek, “allows users to gain experience before facing the real process” by simulating a virtual environment.

In the same vein, the CEO of Innovae states, Pablo Ayala, a company that has been working on this technology for ten years, applying it, above all, in the field of training. And it is that, as it defends, it is demonstrated that the effectiveness of a virtual reality training experience is “the closest thing to the experience of the real environment”, always counting on the advantage that
allows to avoid risk situations for the worker
: «You learn very complicated things without the risk of having an accident».

That is why Sáez believes that augmented reality is something that all companies have to value since it is the “most efficient” way of getting information to workers.

Uneven rhythm

With these applications, and although there are sectors where augmented and virtual reality is more developed (automotive, aeronautical, aerospace, naval, military or large energy companies), the truth is that the experts consulted agree that it is a cross technology, applicable to all manufacturing activities.

They also agree that its implementation is still uneven and incipient outside of the aforementioned sectors. «It is still an option reserved for large companies in very specific applications or for R&D centers.», According to Lantek’s OEM channel director, Francisco Pérez.

But where the brake is, or one of the main barriers for this technology to be used more and more is in the elaboration of the content and not so much in the development of the technology. That is, as Pérez points out, the problem is in the deployment, “in how to enrich the information in the devices”. That is why today augmented and virtual reality is not available to everyone, because the human investment of effort to prepare the information is what is not yet, according to Pérez, «so standardized as to be be accessible.

Even so, Ayala sees room for improvement also in
the glasses used for augmented reality
, which are still “expensive and performance level there is room for improvement.” This does not happen with
virtual reality glasses
, which exist at a very low cost and with a very high quality. “Virtual reality – according to the CEO of Innovae – lacks human movement and the increased one that the glasses that appear have better benefits and more competitive prices”.

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