Remember Glass? When Google introduced its augmented reality (AR) eyewear, the initial excitement faded into disdain for early adopters, who earned a memorable nickname: Glassholes. The user affectation, as well as the cost and paucity of reasons to actually use them in nature, doomed AR wearables in the consumer electronics space, at least for now. But that changes if you look to the factory or shop floor, writes Jake Swearingen in the Intelligencer section of New York magazine. “In such settings, augmented-reality smart glasses are already being deployed across a wide swath of industries.” Scott Montgomerie, CEO and co-founder of Scope AR (San Francisco, CA), was an early advocate of AR in the manufacturing space and has played a key role in its adoption at companies such as Lockheed Martin and GE. He will speak to his experience at the Smart Manufacturing Innovation Summit during the co-located PLASTEC West and Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West event in Anaheim, CA, on Feb. 5 to 7, 2019. In advance of the event, he shared some perspectives on the technology with PlasticsToday.
The eureka moment regarding AR opportunities in manufacturing came to
Montgomerie at a mining convention in Las Vegas. “We began playing
around with AR in 2012, when a big mining company came to Scope AR,
asking if our technology could be used for training. We did a proof of
concept, which went really well, and the company asked us to bring it to
a trade show in Las Vegas later that year.” The demo was an instant
hit, with a constant stream of attendees telling Montgomerie and his
colleagues that it was “the coolest thing” at the show. “And we were,
like, really? Because those giant mining trucks with wheels
bigger than your living room looked really cool to us!” recalled
Montgomerie. Nevertheless, the die was cast. Scope AR started getting
contracts from the likes of Toyota, Boeing and NASA. By 2015, “we
decided that this platform was going to scale and there needed to be an
easy way to create instructions and interact,” said Montgomerie.
Scope AR’s WorkLink allows users with no prior coding skills to
create rich AR smart instructions that automatically collect data and
provide actionable insights, which can be deployed globally through an
app. Instead of rifling through paper instructions, users are immersed
in computer-generated 3D imagery that overlays on top of the real world,
explains the company on its website. The software is platform
agnostic—”we want people to be able to use the technology they feel
comfortable with,” explained Montgomerie—and is also the first authoring
system to provide full support for Microsoft’s HoloLens system. The
company also offers Remote AR, which allows a worker to collaborate
remotely with an expert, both of whom are seeing the same thing as if
they were standing side by side. The possibilities and efficiencies that
can be achieved are head spinning.
Using a HoloLens, for example, instructions can be overlaid on a part
or piece of equipment using 3D models to perform maintenance or
assemble a part, explained Montgomerie. Human error is dramatically
reduced and efficiency skyrockets. Montgomerie cites Unilever, which
reported an astonishing return on investment of more than 1,700%, and
Lockheed Martin, which reduced manufacturing time by 50%.
“I’m particularly fond of the Lockheed Martin use case, which involves the space shuttle,” Montgomerie told PlasticsToday.
It is making a “capsule with 3000 fasteners that need to be tightened.
The old way of doing it was to paw through a 3000-page binder, look up
the table, find the fastener in question, look up the torque setting,
crawl into a tight space to get to the fastener, set the torque, do
quality assurance to verify it was tightened properly, and rinse and
repeat 3000 times,” said Montgomerie. “Our AR technology shows the
technician where the fastener is and on top of that displays the torque
setting. Productivity was improved by 50%,” said Montgomerie.
If the task is more complex and requires expert assistance, Remote AR
offers a time-saving solution. “Suppose you have a part that doesn’t
fit and you need to reach out to a manufacturing engineer or even the
OEM,” explained Montgomerie. To help out, typically the expert would
have to physically come to the shop floor. That could take days in some
cases. With our technology, they can communicate over video in real time
and real space across synchronized devices.”
Employee training is another area where AR is revolutionizing
processes in organizations as disparate as the U.S. military and
Walmart. Writing in Forbes, AR and virtual reality entrepreneur
Lorne Fade notes that Microsoft has made a $480 million deal with the
U.S. Army to train troops for complex, dangerous real-world situations
via AR and that Walmart has partnered with Oculus and Strivr to teach
personnel internal processes in an immersive AR-enabled way. For
Montgomerie, AR technology may even represent a partial solution to the
“It takes a lot of time to gain expertise—10,000 hours, right? What
if you could receive instructions that are so intuitive that you
wouldn’t have to memorize them?” said Montgomerie. “You can store tons
of information on the internet and then you become the actuator.”
The skills gap is heightened as baby boomers retire en masse. “All of
that knowledge is literally walking out the door,” said Montgomerie. “A
feature that we are working on is the capability of recording
interactions. As the technician is receiving instructions from an
expert, the video, audio and 3D adaptation, on a separate channel, are
being recorded. Later, you can go back and replay that interaction on
top of that piece of equipment.” When the expert retires, his knowledge
stays with the company and continues to educate young workers.
The power of AR in these scenarios and countless others resides in
the richness of the communication channel. “The user interface allows
you to communicate in a much more natural way. Now we’re interacting
with real and virtual objects in a real world setting and that neatly
solves so many problems that stem from a misinterpretation of
instructions. Montgomerie cites an example that almost everyone on the
planet can relate to: Assembling Ikea furniture.
“An expert attempts to communicate through diagrams, but the
technician, or consumer in this example, misunderstands those
instructions and uses the wrong fastener or beam. With AR, you can see
the pieces overlaid on top of the furniture in 3D, and you will
certainly make fewer mistakes. Through that form of communication, you
viscerally understand what you need to do versus trying to interpret
instructions,” said Montgomerie.
And that’s the crux of it: Whether you’re assembling a Dagstorp sofa
or tightening screws on a space shuttle component, AR reduces human
error and accelerates the process. No wonder that the AR market is
forecast to grow at 75% CAGR through 2024, exceeding $50 billion by
2024, according to Market Study Report LLC.
Montgomerie will lead a discussion devoted to modernizing
manufacturing with augmented reality at the co-located Medical Design
& Manufacturing (MD&M) West and PLASTEC West event in Anaheim,
CA. The presentation, scheduled for Feb. 7 at 10:15 AM, is part of the
Smart Manufacturing Innovation Summit. MD&M West and PLASTEC West will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center from Feb. 5 to 7, 2019.
The AR Cloud, ruggedized hardware, and a consumer-friendly app
ecosystem. Could 2019 be the year this technology breaks out of the
Augmented Reality is still pretty lame. Sorry, I know that’s a broad
brush to paint an increasingly diverse technology category, but that’s
my professional opinion.
On the enterprise side, AR is finally showing some indications of becoming genuinely useful, particularly in sectors like field service, but adoption has been uneven. On the consumer side, it’s pretty much all face swaps and cheesy marketing “experiences” crafted for brands conned by marketing teams into thinking they’re in danger of missing a phantom wave of mixed reality adoption.
But if AR is still sputtering, it’s equally true the category has
tremendous potential and is bound to change the way we interact with and
interpret our world.
To get some insight on how and where AR will progress in 2019, I reached out to Scott Montgomerie, co-founder and CEO of Scope AR, a company that crafts enterprise AR solutions for various industries. Here are three areas where we can expect significant leaps forward in 2019.
HARDWARE WILL BECOME MORE RUGGEDIZED
There’s a big barrier inhibiting AR adoption right now: Many of the
sectors that could most benefit from AR require workers to go into
demanding environments that are brutal on hardware.
“While more and more companies are using AR glasses or headsets,”
says Montgomerie, “they are still fragile and expensive. As such, users
are hesitant to bring them to high risk environments, such as a
construction site or an oil rig, where they could easily get broken.”
That should change in 2019. Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is expected to launch, likely adding durability to one of the most popular enterprise headsets. More than 75 percent of respondents in Digi-Capital’s Augmented/Virtual Reality Report pointed to Microsoft HoloLens as the smartglasses platform that matters most to their company.
Several other companies, including Apple, are working on AR devices
as well, and it’s a sure bet they’re eyeing use cases that will require a
measure of durability.
PROGRESS AROUND THE AR CLOUD WILL LEAD TO A NEW LEVEL OF COLLABORATION
Some definitions are in order. The AR Cloud is a digital copy of the real world that’s accessible to everyone, and it’s going to be really important. How important?
“The AR Cloud will be the single most important software
infrastructure in computing, far more valuable than Facebook’s social
graph or Google’s pagerank index,” says Augmented World Expo Founder and CEO Ori Inbar.
That statement makes sense if you can envision a future in which
digital information about people, objects, and places will be derived
not from Googling them using text but from training a camera at them.
When a publicly accessible digital copy of the real world is complete,
training an AR device at just about anything will yield a wealth of
There’s a race underway now to control the AR Cloud. Google, which
has paved the way with its Street View efforts, is firmly in the lead,
but there’s been a groundswell of activity in the area.
“The progress being made on the AR Cloud will unlock a new set of use
cases and allow co-workers (or consumers) to communicate in an
unprecedented way that’s more precise and location-specific,”
Montgomerie told me. “Several startups who are working solely on AR
Cloud development came out of stealth mode this year.”
Because an AR Cloud will be interoperable and available to everyone,
it promotes multiplayer AR experiences. Two people working on an oil rig
can access complementary technical and sensor data in real time, for
instance, aiding enterprise collaboration. Two consumers will be able to
enjoy the same AR experience on different devices, bringing a social
aspect to a technology that’s been single player so far.
2019 IS THE YEAR IN WHICH WE’LL SEE THE LAUNCH OF THE INDUSTRY’S FIRST PRACTICAL CONSUMER APPLICATIONS
Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore debuted
in the second half of 2017. That timing is important, because it means
developers and startups have now had enough time to get their feet wet
with the technology and gauge market response to begin producing
meaningful consumer apps.
“About a year and a half after the original Apple App store launched,
developers finally learned how to leverage a touch screen to build
engaging and useful user interfaces, and app development exploded,”
explains Montgomerie. “AR app development requires a whole new way of
thinking. Much like the iPhone’s user experience required a transition
from mouse-and-keyboard interaction to touch, AR experiences require a
new method of interaction.”
Fortunately, Montgomerie believes developers are and consumers alike
are becoming fluent in these new modes of technology interaction.
“We’re starting to see the signs that mobile AR is following the same growth trajectory as mobile apps.”
If that’s true, expect the technology to finally escape the doldrums of face swaps and tacky brand promotions in the year ahead.
In 2017, we saw a turning point for
augmented reality (AR). Gone are the days where AR was simply a
buzzworthy topic following on the heels of virtual reality (VR). In
fact, IDC forecast AR and VR revenues will likely total $9.1 billion this year. Additionally, the firm expects AR/VR sales to increase nearly 95
percent in 2018 to reach $17.8 billion. The majority of that spending
is expected to be done by businesses. According to an IDC press release,
“The commercial sectors will represent more than 60 percent of AR/VR
spending in 2018 and grow to more than 85 percent of the worldwide total
It’s clear enterprise companies are now seeing the real value in AR and seizing opportunities to leverage its capabilities to more easily share knowledge across their organizations. This got us thinking about the year ahead and what’s really driving the proliferation of augmented reality. Here are the top three trends we see driving the AR industry in 2018:
1. New industries adopting full-scale AR
As equipment becomes more complicated,
technicians may not have the knowledge or resources to fix problems in a
timely manner, and those with the expertise are often hours or days
away. This leaves an enormous gap in expertise. Organizations are
looking to find a way to put their expert knowledge where they
need it, when they need it. Existing communication tools and workflows
aren’t cutting it in today’s modern workplace, The good news? AR has the
potential to be the answer. While the industry is seeing some benefit
from things like video calling and tablets loaded with PDFs, these gains
pale in significance next to the potential of AR.
In industries such as utilities, telecoms and manufacturing, where enterprise organizations have a large, distributed workforce of remote workers, the value of AR is already being realized. Being able to scale organizational expertise through remote support is key in an industry where veteran workers are reaching retirement age. With augmented reality, non-technical workers can create highly interactive instructions, training materials or service and support documentation, streamlining the process for new and existing employees. We are also starting to see industries like healthcare and education leverage these capabilities. There are already healthcare companies, for instance, building AR tools that can be used in the operating room for surgical training. Teachers, on the other hand, can use augmented reality to create more immersive and collaborative learning experiences in the classroom.
2. AR will increasingly become more present in consumers’ daily lives
Pokemon Go received a lot of
buzz in the media and it drew a lot of attention from technology
leaders, but it all seemed to be a flash in the pan. In 2018, we will
see enterprise companies build on that momentum and increased consumer
interest in leveraging AR to make tasks in their daily lives easier. In
other words, we will see businesses of all shapes and sizes using AR in
order to create more valuable relationships with customers.
There’s more to AR than gaming or adding stormtroopers to live photos. SMBs, in particular, can leverage AR-based collaboration tools to explore the use of this technology with their customers. One excellent example of this is “see what I see” support. An auto repair shop, for instance, can leverage live video-calling solutions so a mechanic can walk a consumer through the repairs needed on the customer’s vehicle, drawing on the real-world view to highlight or circle the exact parts that are broken.
3. Augmented Reality will eclipse Virtual Reality
Most new technologies receive a
considerable amount of publicity when they are first introduced. VR was
hyped extensively until the industry saw poor headset sales and
investment interest dried up. Unlike VR, however, many tech industry
leaders – including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft – are
investing heavily in AR hardware, software and tools. Frameworks like
ARKit and ARCore have made it easier than ever to create meaningful
With solutions like WorkLink, employees with no prior coding knowledge can develop simple, engaging instructions leveraging augmented reality – what we like to call “smart instructions.” Employees can use wearables such as HoloLens headsets or even their smartphones to view 3D computer generated imagery overlaid on top of the real world. Picture a construction worker who can repair a piece of machinery by simply holding up his phone and seeing step-by-step instructions. Interactive instructions like these have the power to make enterprise workforces more efficient than ever.
So what’s next in 2018?
AR has already shown tremendous value in terms of enterprise use-cases. Enterprise organizations will be looking for solutions that are future-proofed and designed to work with their existing systems. Companies that invest early in an AR strategy will be able to better serve their customers and stay ahead of their competition.
What other trends will drive augmented reality in 2018?
David Kariuki at Hypergrid Business released an article this week about Apple’s New Phones, and some apps that you should try with their new capabilities.
Remote AR is listed as one of these apps, with David mentioning that
“applications developed with ARKit such as Scope AR are easy to use and
users do not need any training and much time to understand how it works,
which could increase adoption.”
On September 16th, Marc Benioff’s keynote at the Dreamforce conference spoke strongly to the theme of innovation. Attendees got a number of exciting glimpses of the future as seen by Salesforce, a company that has proven to be an industry in itself, and no stranger to innovation.
As the finishing touch of this look into tomorrow, Mr. Benioff presents a technician of the future working on Cisco server equipment, being walked through diagnostics and repair by advanced augmented reality software. Futuristic and innovative without question, but this technology is very real–and we provided it. It’s powered by Scope AR and we are putting it in the field every day for organizations on the enterprise scale right down to small scale service support.
Scope AR technology allows users to overlay expert assistance directly onto their view of a live situation in the form of 3D graphics and animation, text instructions, and reference material. Whether delivered on an inexpensive smartphone, high tablet, or display enabled smart glasses, this kind of real-world assistance is truly game-changing, and we are having a great time changing the game right now.
Building on the success of our step by step instruction, we have recently introduced Remote AR, which brings our powerful Augmented Reality interface to the live support call. This has to be experienced to be believed; the frustration of not having your knowledge where you need it is now a thing of the past.
And of course we aren’t finished innovating with our
step-by-step instructional support. In response to customer demand we
are constantly evolving the software suite we use to create our
solutions, and we will be making announcements on some exciting new
developments in that area shortly.
We are seeing a drastic shift in the way that expert knowledge is captured and shared. We see the impact this has every day with our clients. Printed manuals and company experts traveling around the world are already becoming a thing of the past, but within a few short years the impact will go far beyond training and maintenance. It’s no exaggeration to say that communication of our knowledge and our experience is what civilization and society are built around, and we are unquestionably witnessing the evolution of a new medium for that information transfer.
So as we join our friends at SalesForce in looking towards
the future, we at Scope AR are very excited to continue pushing the
boundaries of what’s possible. We are inventing the tools that will help
the next generation of our society work in more ways than one.
Innovation is at the heart of our business, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!