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AR project tests interactive data glasses in factories

16 September, 2019

A group of six German companies and institutions, led by Siemens, has completed a three-year project looking at the use of augmented reality (AR) in industry. The aim of the project, called Glass@Service, was to use intelligent data glasses as personalised information systems, combining them with new types of interaction, such as eye and gesture controls, and innovative IT services. The first practical tests in real production and logistics environments have now been completed successfully.

In some areas of industrial activity – such as order-picking and changing machine tools – workers often print labels and record data laboriously in inventory control systems at the end of the process.

For several years, researchers have been examining whether AR could simplify such applications. However, it is only now that the technological components needed for this – such as micro-displays, 3D cameras and sensors – have become sufficiently sophisticated, that they can be combined to form suitable HMIs and integrated into manufacturing plant IT systems.

Practical tests of the technologies developed during the Glass@Service project have taken place recently at a Siemens electronics factory in Amberg and at one of its manufacturing sites in Fürth. The AR system’s software was adapted to the demands of each site.

In the logistics applications, the aim was to provide employees with warehouse orientation aids in the form of wearable devices, and to identify, mark and process products online without causing any errors in the inventory control system.

Siemens has tested the augmented reality technologies developed during the Glass@Service project in its own plants

When used to retool or maintain machines, the data glasses can display each work-step. An eye-tracking camera captures workers’ eye movements, allowing them to interact with systems by changing their line of sight. For example, they can scroll through data or activate virtual buttons.

Siemens is following up the collaboration with internal projects that it hopes will bear fruit “in the medium term”. Further projects are planned to apply AR to other areas of manufacturing and services.

The Glass@Service project was funded by the German Ministry of Economics and Energy.

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