Do you believe that an augmented reality experience will be integrated into our interactions designs? Augmented Reality (AR) has been a toy technology for years. AR is graduating to the big leagues.
Today's AR experiences are mostly through handheld devices : our tablets and smart phones. Such tools are great for interactive marketing content and service manuals, AR on tablets and smart phones is useless for CAD designers.
The CAD company PTC recently purchased Vuforia, a major provider of AR development tools. Does that make sense for a CAD company?
It does if the CAD company has business solutions for product services. PTC has a class of products in Service Lifecycle Management and they have spent 2 years building their Internet of Things plarform. AR intersects nicely with product service and IoT. It brings real time information from service manuals and overlays them on products. It can display results from big data analytics collected from IoT enabled product deployments. And the AR interface works great on a basic tablet or smart phone.
CAD design is a different problem. First, the physical interface has to keep our hands free. This means a wearable solution like glasses. The visual quality needs to be excellent, and the glasses or display need to be comfortable for hours at a time.
Surely the CAD interface tools need to change. If AR places the image before our eyes, the design could be at scale or full size. It might be floating in air or on a table. Manipulation and commands could be verbal or gestural. The CAD tool itself must evolve. A generative design tool could be a much better match for an AR interface where the designer is more concerned with definitions and constraints of the design.
PTC has big plans for AR. It is part of the company's Digital Twin strategy that brings IoT, Big Data Analytics, and AR to the CAD and PLM world. The first step is already clear. Add the AR interface to product support and field services. The next steps could be more exciting as CAD developers become more adept with AR tools and as those AR tools evolve. This is where we can imagine highly adaptive, visual, gestural interfaces for PLM and design systems.
PTC presented their Augmented Reality vision for the first time at the company's "ThingEvent" in January. It supports their vision of a living "Digital Twin" and we expect to see more new developments throughout the year