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Struggling with IoT? AR Might Hold the Key

April 16, 2020
A recent Boston Consulting Group and PTC report identifies augmented reality as a key to realizing IoT's potential.

For most manufacturers, IoT deployments have reached the point where organizations need to be able to justify the investment.

According to PTC and Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) recently published report, “Unleashing the Power of Data with IoT and Augmented Reality,” Augmented reality (AR) is emerging as the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT deployments. Survey results show that most companies surveyed see IoT and AR as complementary technologies.

Specifically, 85% of respondents manage IoT and AR together, with 77% having dedicated AR budgets. Furthermore, 75% expect paybacks from IoT-AR investments in three years or less with 50% already demonstrating the value of using both IoT and AR.

Zia Yusuf, managing director and senior partner and leader of BCG’s IoT practice tells IndustryWeek that heavy industries are pioneering the use of combined IoT-AR solutions, and in functions such as equipment maintenance, such combined applications already represent the state of the art.  “Organizations who don’t incorporate such solutions into their strategic roadmap risk being left behind both from a strategic and economic perspective,” he says.

The key to success? When getting started on this journey, companies must choose the right entry points—often those representing the largest cost centers and revenue opportunities – in order to identify where IoT-AR applications will have the highest value. “It’s critical to scale such applications as quickly as possible across the enterprise, not only to reap the financial benefits, but also to ensure that the cultural change that is necessary for the new approach to succeed has time to take root,” says Yusuf. 

Understanding the use cases

The research identified more than 30 IoT-AR market use cases at play that help businesses better manage equipment and objects, spaces, and enhance human capabilities. AR applications are using the myriad kinds of data generated by IoT devices such as smartphones, HoloLens, Magic Leap, etc. to help employees be more effective and productive.

For an industrial manufacturer, an IoT-AR solution can be game changing for training, assembly work instructions, maintenance instruction and guidance, and quality control, explains Yusuf. “The sweet spot for IoT-AR solutions is in business situations where employees (rather than automated systems) make some or all of the decisions and where workers need digital data to more effectively interact with physical objects, such as machines and spaces,” he says. “IoT-AR applications are also very helpful when the aggregation of large volumes and various kinds of contextual data in a single view facilitates decision making, when employees need both hands to effectively interact with objects or their environments in real time, and when employees need to interact with objects or parts that are not visible.”

According to Yusuf, combining IoT and AR technologies transforms the ways that people can interact with the world around them. “Companies that harness that power will be able to not only boost revenues, reduce costs, improve the customer experience, and strengthen brands but also use contextual data in ways never before imagined,” he says.

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