Introduction

Digital devices, in combination with mobile applications, have been revolutionary for putting information in the palm of a worker’s hand. Mobile email on smartphones was the first example of technology that changed the way workers collaborated and exchanged information. Where there has been a gap for mobile workers is getting contextually-relevant visual information in real time from the mobile device. Images and videos accessed through the smartphone or tablet are helpful, but still extremely limited for providing highly targeted information based on time-of-day, location, thing or product data, and other occupationally-relevant business process and environmental information.

A new technology called augmented reality (AR) is now available to address these limitations. AR is the overlay of digital information, including text, images, and videos, onto a real-time view of the physical world through a camera-enabled device, such as a smartphone or tablet. AR is taking information that is found in a variety of applications, such as maintenance records, inspection and repair manuals, and engineering specifications, compiling it, and displaying it on the physical features of the thing or machine. Moving the smartphone or tablet around the object to show different views reveals new information related to the object’s features.

AR applications can become even more powerful by augmenting them with data generated by another set of technologies, revolution-izing the marketplace called the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the sensorization and digitization of the physical world, enabling not only its monitoring, but also using the collected thing data to predict machine outcomes, develop better products, understand usage to create new services, and plan more efficient operations and business processes. The IoT is driving many enterprises to completely re-evaluate how they design, produce, sell, and support their products. ABI Research expects that more than 31 billion “things” will be connected by 2021. Combining AR and the IoT allows employees, such as field maintenance workers, to access vital machine operating statistics to assist in maintenance decisions, or an assembly worker to visually receive pick and place instructions and alerts if tools are working incorrectly or are out of tolerance.

But how does an enterprise benefit from both of these technologies? It requires building both AR and IoT applications. This is not an easy endeavor due to myriad technology and supplier options. This white paper dives into the topic of AR and the IoT, exploring the benefits of IoT-assisted AR applications. It will contrast these benefits with the challenges of building IoT and AR applications. The white paper will introduce IoT platforms, their benefits for building IoT and AR applications, and key capabilities to consider. It will conclude with a case study, providing insight on the benefits one company experienced using IoT-enhanced AR applications.