How Augmented Reality drives the Internet of Things
It is a pretty familiar scene, that of the classic morning routine of the future. A person wakes up, gets out of bed, and walks over to their window. As they gaze out at their city skyline, a hologram hovering somewhere in the sky informs them of the weather. Other floating projections display the morning news, their itinerary for the day, and whatever else may be relevant to that person at that time.
Co-author of the article: Scott Hicken
After updating themselves sufficiently, they head over to their closet and virtually try on a few different outfits in a matter of seconds, finally settling on one they are happy with. As they continue to prepare for the day, all the mundane necessities which humans previously had to do manually now operate automatically, leaving the person more time to do something of importance before they embark out the door.
Anyone who has seen more than a few science fiction movies can attest to the frequency in which a scene such as this starts off a film, setting the tone for the viewer that this is a world far more advanced than our own. And while the average person might still believe this type of world only exists in some far off future, those in the tech industry know we are far closer than most would imagine. In fact, as the powerful concept of the Internet of Things continues to establish itself as the definitive topic of discussion and enquiry among the tech world, we may very well be on the cusp of such a world becoming a reality.
IOT CARS AND SELFIE FRIDGES
The Internet of Things is an idea which is quite simple in its essence, but extremely complicated when one delves into the details. The main idea of IoT is this: eventually, every physical object in our world which exhibits any sort of variation or movement will be connected to the Internet. This will allow physical objects to transmit and receive information, permitting their normal affairs and maintenance to run automatically. This in turn would increase the efficiency and reduce the time needed, cost, and errors of virtually every occurrence and event in our modern world. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Source: Bosch Home
For those that are still confused, imagine a highway where every car on the road is digitally communicating with every other car, constantly updating their current location to ensure that there is never a single accident. Elon Musk’s Tesla is following that approach with the so called IoT car. Or imagine a refrigerator that knows when it is out of lunchmeat and automatically notifies a grocery delivery service that it will need more by noon the next day. Industry giant Bosch made the first step in their „Home Connect“ program with a refrigerator that takes selfies of its contents. In the next step that will be combined with an Augmented Reality app.
These are just a couple of everyday scenarios illustrating the unlimited potential of a worldwide connection between the physical universe and the Internet. And while they undoubtedly sound futuristic, the numbers show that our world is irreversibly heading in the direction of connection. Last year alone, an estimated $698.6 billion dollars was spent by businesses on the Internet of Things. By 2019, this number is expected to reach upwards of $1.3 trillion. According to Cisco’s Trend Report, the amount of connected devices exceeded the amount of connected people in the year 2008. Currently the number of connected devices stands at around 13.4 billion, and is expected to reach somewhere between 30 and 50 billion by the year 2020 . These numbers are outstanding, and although 87% of consumers still haven’t heard the term “Internet of Things” yet , they represent a growing tidal wave in the business world which will certainly crash into major markets once circumstances and timing permit.
Considering forecasts, such as GE’s, which predicted the rising presence of connected machines in industry will add as much as 15 trillion dollars to the global GDP over the next 20 years, it is no surprise many businesses are fervently adapting their business models to be harmonious with the Internet of Things. This convergence of machines, data, and analytics is being dubbed the fourth Industrial Revolution, or “Industry 4.0”, and every major Internet company from IBM and Cisco to Google and Microsoft are competing to be the main provider of the platform which makes this convergence possible. The positive effects for businesses constantly connected to their products, customers and manufacturing hardware are quite apparent, including benefits such as increased operational efficiency, faster decision making, better customer relationships, and a larger potential for correspondence between different parts of the company. Ultimately, all these benefits culminate into a “smarter” industry in which every aspect of the supply chain operates with a greater sense of ease and efficiency.
BECOMING „IOT READY“
There are essentially four different elements of the IoT process which companies must incorporate into their infrastructure to truly achieve the status of an “Industry 4.0” company.
Implementation of “connectedness” capabilities
This is done by implanting sensors, processors, or any other technologies which allow data to be exchanged between the product and its environment. In support of their IoT platform, Bosch Software Innovations advertises that in 2013 they shipped out more than one billion of their MEMS sensors which are designed with this type of information exchange in mind. Bosch also has the upper-hand in this area since they are already a leading manufacturer of electronic products.
Source: Beecham Research
Cloud computing and platform systems
Cloud systems can store the flow of data and allow for the oversight of the products themselves as well as any applications a company might sell or utilize. In this area, Amazon’s IoT Amazon Web Services platform dominates with cloud capabilities and services which are quoted as being “many times the aggregate size of all other providers in the market.” Our partner Microsoft offers their Universal Windows Platform which allows developing apps cross-device for smartphones, tablets and smart glasses like the Hololens as well as for the Internet of Things.
Structure and analyze the collected data
This is a huge make-it-or-break-it point for an IoT platform since the technology serving this function needs to ensure that not even a speck of data in the sea of information made available goes to waste. Additionally, the technology should be capable of actively making decisions based on its analytics. IBM has attached their artificial intelligence supercomputer, „Watson“, to the front of their IoT platform for precisely this reason, „Watson“ is also famously known for winning the popular TV trivia show Jeopardy. Nonetheless, usage of AI supercomputers emphasize the fact that by utilizing the network of information within a platform makes it possible to be actively increase a machine’s output to the fullest extent.
THE FOURTH ELEMENT: AUGMENTED REALITY
Now, the fourth and final aspect of this process is arguably the key to bringing IoT from the level of a specialized function into a full on industrial transformation of total connectivity. This aspect is the visualization in real-time of all the data which the Internet of Things will have to offer, and the most obvious candidate to make this visualization occur at the level of scalability which industry requires is none other than Augmented Reality.
Some may ask: If the data can be cognitively analyzed by machines, why is it so important that humans are able to visualize it? The answer here is simple. Ultimately, the whole point of the Internet of Things and the technology which goes into making it a reality is to unlock the full capabilities of human potential. The reason virtually every major tech company is becoming so invested in bringing the idea of IoT to life, and the reason why Augmented Reality is so often brought up alongside this concept, is because they understand the unlimited possibilities it will bring to human existence.
Source: The AREA
Companies need an ecosystem to integrate Augmented Reality into the Internet of Things. Together with our Industry partner Bosch Automotive Service Solutions we made our content authoring platform REFLEKT ONE „IoT Ready“. Whether it comes to the visualization of contextual information or showing live data on machines, cars or any other objects, the platform allows to seamless connectivity to existing infrastructures. With AR, information will be digitally attached to the physical world, waiting for us to access and use it to further develop our goals and ambitions without ever having to turn our attention away from what it is we wish to do. This will allow for uninterrupted workflows, making processes which previously required a constant shift in attention much more natural and intuitive – thus giving us more time to enjoy life.
And while industry is certainly the first branch of society which is beginning to understand the fundamental importance of what this new development in information processing offers, it will not be long before every other aspect of society catches on as well. It is only a matter of time. Even though very little about this field is still to be set in stone, the knowledge that it could change all of our lives certainly has been. And for now, that knowledge is all Augmented Reality experts such as us require to continue to create and innovate in this revolutionary field, steadfastly propelling us all into the future.
Image source title: SAP