Wireless AR gains momentum in industrial sector, consultancy finds
According to ABI Research, 5G will be the ideal solution for connected AR/VR experiences
Augmented reality (AR) is growing in presence in industrial applications such as smart manufacturing and remote operation of industrial machinery, according to a recent study by consultancy firm ABI Research.
The consultancy forecasts that almost 10% of industrial smart glasses and standalone Virtual Reality (VR) devices will have a 5G connection by 2026. ABI Research highlighted that 5G networks, with extreme throughput, ultra-low latency, and uniform experience, will be the ideal solution for connected AR/VR experiences.
“Wearing smart glasses, rather than using AR on handheld screens, empowers the worker to use both hands and look directly at the work that needs doing,” said Marina Lu, senior analyst at ABI Research. “AR will enable shop-floor workers to see a digital twin overlaid on a physical object with assembly or repair instructions according to customized needs. Remote applications that connect field engineers to a remote expert require high-accuracy interaction and low end-to-end latency for time-sensitive applications, and thus continuous connectivity is vital,” the analyst said.
“When users in field service and maintenance are in remote locations where Wi-Fi is non-existent, devices can leverage 4G and eventually 5G networks to keep these workers connected and safe,” Lu added.
ABI Research said that a number of companies including Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia, as well as telcos such as Verizon, SK Telekom, and Orange, view AR and VR as one of the prime use cases for future 5G networks.
Ericsson has recently used augmented reality troubleshooting (ART) at its own production sites in Tallinn, Estonia, and is expanding its use to other Ericsson sites in China. By using ART, the engineers can solve tricky issues with just-in-time fault-finding data and immediate information sharing, ABI Research said.
The consultancy firm also highlighted that cellular connectivity could expand the possible working area of AR/VR. Low-Power Wide-Area Networks (LPWAN) can support simple remote devices that do not communicate frequently while remaining ultra-energy efficient.
“Mobility is the key to enhance user AR/VR experiences and industry market penetration, which poses new requirements on operator’s network structure and services, but also create new opportunities because only operators can create value in connecting the supply chain, connecting the factory and the product, and understanding the end customers,” said Eric Abbruzzese, principal analyst at ABI Research. “Ubiquitous connectivity is necessary for users to interact with the surrounding environment and receive on-demand information anytime and anywhere. New business models that can leverage connectivity capabilities and bring value to end users wherever they are operating need to be developed.”