I remember back in college, a professor of mechanical design gave the class an assignment. For one week, each of us were supposed to model a part of a bigger assembly with just the measures and some views from its 2D drawing. Then, we had to come back and try to figure out how to assemble the parts created by the other students. We were trying to solve a 3D puzzle of an elephant, but the subjectivity associated with each of us prevented a successful assembly. Sometimes we could not figure out how to fit each part. At other times, the modeling was in the wrong scale, giving the elephant three normal sized legs and one so large that you would think it was a real-life elephant trunk!
This scenario in school works as a compelling and educational anecdote, but if we translate this into a productivity environment, things could be a little messier. Imagine this: a worker takes too long to understand the instructions of a changeover procedure, stopping most of the processes and, thus, delaying production and directly impacting revenue. Or, one of the steps detailed in a training manual is so vague that three different technicians make the same procedure in three different ways for three very different customers on site, causing a variation on the result of the maintenance of a machine. Not so funny anymore, is it?
Enter: Augmented Reality
Thanks to solutions like Augmented Reality (AR), we can be certain that these situations can be avoided. AR can allow our teams to reach out for information from a single repository that is capable of updating according to new equipment and/or procedures and propagate those changes through all our organization in real time. This technology, along with IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and Analytics impact directly on our company’s performance, according to McKinsey:
- Reducing costs 10-40%
- Improving productivity 20-30%
- Reducing repeat visits for field operations 5-20%
- Reducing travel time for field operations 5-30%
In the end, the outcomes of implementing AR technology can translate into better business operations, training improvement, enhanced user experiences and unlocking a team’s creativity. However, subjectivity can be present even if we know that knowledge can be found in just one place. What to do then?
Sometimes we are so used to the old ways that even if we have an innovative approach, we will try to do something the same way we did before. Fortunately, we can solve this.
The benefits of creating content from an AR solution are the minimum limitation one has for sharing information. We can give remote assistance through a live call, we can create content through the eyes of the subject matter expert, and we can take advantage of all our media and animate models to make compelling work instructions. What I am trying to say is that we can avoid subjectivity if we have different ways to address our teams’ needs.
AR experiences are a series of digital elements that mix critical information and a user-friendly interface that can be designed anyway we want, allowing us to make the transition from a heavy printed manual easier. We can explain things in ways printed instructions cannot, from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) to videos, explaining procedures in a way all users can comprehend. Even if we have the information in our hands, a bit of user interface design might be needed. In the end, the goal is to make data reachable, understandable, and meaningful. AR solutions give us the tools for this endeavor.
10 Principles for Creating an AR Experience
Some advice I could give you is following a series of principles I have learned from cognitive design. When it comes to creating an AR experience, you should consider:
- Standardization. Make sure that similar procedures/machines/experiences work in the same way. Coherence in the display of information and instructions.
- Use stereotypes. Ensure that, based on certain patterns known to users, experiences work as expected.
- Harmonize controls with equipment layout. Configure elements that make it obvious what must be done.
- Simplify the presentation of information. No matter how large the amount of information is, it must always be displayed in the simplest way, in easy-to-read interfaces.
- Present the information in appropriate detail. Be aware of the situation for which the information is required.
- Present clear images. The images must be distinguishable, visible, and easy to interpret.
- Use redundancies. Provide the same information in multiple ways.
- Use patterns. Arrange in patterns, allows better understanding of the information
- Provide variable stimuli. Different graphics, images, lights, sound.
- Provide immediate feedback. The ability to know if what is being done is correct.
In this way, you can ensure that information cannot be misinterpreted and has a basis for everyone to follow the same instructions without (or with less) subjectivity. So, my final question would be: what is stopping you now?