Augmented Reality – The Bridge from Bits to Elements

by | May 16, 2019 | Technology | 0 comments

Augmented Reality – The Bridge from Bits to Elements


In our daily lives in an increasingly digital world, we all leave behind a multitude of data. These data are generally regarded as the “oil of the 21st century”. They are generated in large quantities through our use of the Internet and mobile communications, the financial industry, the energy industry, healthcare and transportation, and from sources such as intelligent agents, social media, credit and debit cards, smart metering systems, assistance devices, surveillance cameras, aircraft and vehicles. These data are stored, processed and evaluated with special solutions. The volume of data worldwide has swollen to such an extent that unprecedented possibilities are emerging. The networking of data sources also leads to new concepts of usage. Important terms in this context are database concepts, cloud computing and smart grids. The result of all these aspects is the two-dimensional internet of data.

In the context of the digitalization of value chains, however, it is important to focus upon the use of data in the three-dimensional Internet of Things (IoT). In order to achieve this, bridges must literally be built. 

There is a gap between the vast amount of digital data on the internet of information and the physical world of things. But the data need to be usable there. This gap limits the value of the information to the individual’s ability to abstract. Augmented reality expands reality by a projection of the corresponding data. The technology is relatively new, but according to Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, it will soon reach the mainstream. The most widely known applications can be found in mobile apps, for example in Pokemon GO.

The same technology can also be used to project design plans onto data glasses, navigational information onto vehicle windows or service plans with assembly instructions onto tablets.

This enables a completely new way of providing information in the commercial sector. It reduces the abstraction requirements of technical maintenance personnel, which can make this type of work less complex. The mental transfer between the digital and real worlds is eliminated by the virtual optical superimposition of the data into the physical world, thus simplifying complex tasks. This significantly increases people’s efficiency. Sources of error are eliminated and complexity is reduced. This results in considerable opportunities for the labour market. To put it somewhat exaggerated, you can see that, equipped with the right equipment, anyone who has understood the principle of Pokemon GO can also operate a complex system. This puts Henry Ford’s sigh “Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?” into a new context. It actually gives us the opportunity to equip peoples’ hands with artificial intelligence.

Augmented reality translates two-dimensional data and images into the three-dimensional perception of people and helps to visualize complex data. But the technology can do much more. Augmented reality is already capable of replacing physical operating elements such as buttons, levers or switches with virtual control elements. These are programmed to the target function and make it possible to control functions on machines. Among other things, this can provide effective protection against misuse, since the control element is only available in the case of authorization or helps to prevent accidents if the switch is actually located in a hot or otherwise dangerous environment. This makes augmented reality the new interface between man and machine. 

At the same time, it overcomes the gap between two-dimensional bits and information and the three-dimensional physical world of atoms.

The digital transformation reaches the workshops via the bridge of augmented reality. The hoard of the material, as Chris Anderson, pioneer of the drone business and the Internet of Things calls it. The past twenty years have been about how to find new ways to plan, communicate and create on the Internet of Information. The next twenty years will be about transferring these experiences into the physical world.

In physical reality, drones will play an important role. They will allow us to take advantage of augmented reality even in difficult-to-reach terrain or dangerous environments, and where satellite imagery would simply be too expensive. In the big task of transferring the web into the internet of things, drones give us an extra dimension. They open the way up for us.

Right now, most people associate drones mainly with toys and private applications. This view reveals a pattern. Already augmented reality and basically smartphones and tablets have established themselves in the private environment first. Their commercial advantages in professional use are only gradually becoming apparent. And as in all these cases, there will also be applications for drones that we cannot even imagine today. The resulting cost advantages are so enormous that the industry is described as disruptive.

The theory of disruptive technology was developed by Clayton M. Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School. Christensen first used the term “disruptive technology” in his standard work “The Investor’s Dilemma”. There, disruption is referred to as “groundbreaking innovations”. These often show strong growth over time and thus displace existing markets or products and services completely or partially.

The term is used in the drone business because today drones are able to complete tasks in minutes which previous technologies would need hours or days to do so. And additionally at a fraction of the previous costs. Furthermore, they create more security because they can relieve people of dangerous tasks. This makes drones important tools.

Digitalization used to take place two-dimensionally on screens, but we live in a three-dimensional world with houses, clothing, cars and even workshops.

This raises the question of how we can transform two-dimensional data into three-dimensional reality with the help of augmented reality. The symbol for this could be the 3D printer. – ThO –

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