So how is augmented reality bridging the gap between humans and machines?
The Industrial Internet of Things has paved the way for machine automation of simple and routine tasks for smart, connected products (SCP). Simultaneously, augmented reality (AR) is empowering workers and yielding incredible gains in worker productivity. Eventually, humans and machines will be working collaboratively. AR will soon be bridging workflow gaps and maximizing efficiencies of human and machine interactions.
Automation Replaces Tasks, Not Work
An ecosystem where workers and machines work synchronously is replacing dated automation utopian mindsets. Incredible technology pioneers, such as Elon Musk, are emphasizing the importance of human workers and the pitfalls of excessive automation.
Autonomous systems and AI-powered robotics are replacing many manual tasks. However, this is very different than saying that automation is replacing jobs. McKinsey estimated that fewer than 5% of jobs consist of 100% automatable activities. While a worker’s future daily tasks are subject to major change, their employment status likely is not - because industries like manufacturing are reporting massive forthcoming work shortages.
For example, imagine an assembly worker. As a result of increasing digitization, much of an assembly worker's daily tedious paper-based documentation tasks are automated. Additionally, some of the unfavorable parts of the assembly process are completed by machines (heavy lifting, repetitive actions, etc). On the other hand, humans experts are still designated complex tasks, such as final quality verification of manufactured products.
Human-Machine Interfaces Are Built for Previous Generations of Work
To accommodate for the rapid change of hands for tasks within workflows, some changes will have to be made. Because of this, robots and humans will require both a collaborative nature with constant cross-exchanging of information and novel methods of interactions. An on-demand, in-context interface that leverages human oversight and instruction capabilities within surrounding environments is necessary to manage this influx of cyber-physical systems and the future of work.
Augmented Reality Is the HMI For Front-line Workers and Their Machines
Augmented reality (AR) is the purpose-built computer for front-line workers to monitor and control/optimize connected machines. This emerging capability is needed as industrial companies are geared towards flexibility and agility, yet challenged with downtime and restrictions.
AR provides the ability for workers to instruct machines within the environment and computation to actuate, actual commands. AR provides a virtual, interactive dashboard to the shop floor in a timely and immersive experience. It also can potentially save you thousands in changeover costs.
A Collaborative Future of Work Is Here
This future human-machine collaboration is on display in university labs and AR providers’ research divisions, even though it's at the very beginning of it's maturity. Brown University’s robotics lab is demonstrating the potential of AR as the interface to dictate robotic movements through voice and gesture commands.