AR / VR, Covid19, News, Technology, UX Design

Augmented Reality in the Aerospace Industry: Setting Key Trends

Mimi Sarwar

Mimi Sarwar, Writer

Augmented reality (AR) is offering phenomenal opportunities where users can communicate with visually impressive overlays, merging the real world with digital data. The technology is tipped to disrupt the aerospace industry.

With AR’s weighted focus on enhancing user experience (UX) by creating a digital world that matches our physical one, augmented reality offers its users a world of digitally enhanced possibilities. It has been making a positive impact on many industries worldwide, and the time has come for the aerospace and defence industry to invest in the technology. Below are four areas where the implementation of AR can transform this industry:

Platform and system design

Aerospace designers and engineers have recognised the potential of AR for the early conception stage of platforms and systems. With AR incorporated within this industry, the ability to build new equipment will significantly speed up the prototyping and development stages.   

The HoloLens 2 device is set to be used by astronauts travelling on the Orion spacecraft – which Lockheed Martin is building – as part of NASA’s Artemis program to carry humans to the moon and beyond. The mixed reality headsets aim to give the astronauts freedom from being tied to paper instructions or tablets screens. Instead, the AR tool allows user to visually see everything they need ranging from overlays of how pieces fit together through to voice commands guiding them through every step with holographic guidance overlaid on the relevant components directly in workers’ line of sight.

AR on the assembly line

An element of human error is always inevitable, and companies remain wary when completely relying on automation on the assembly line, and with inspections and maintenance. AR devices are factored in to combine the reliability of technology coupled with the human factor. 

Boeing is providing AR glasses to its technicians to reduce downtime with hands-free access to reference materials and provide comprehensive digital checklists helping them through the conception phase and for routine maintenance of aircraft. It is using Upskill Skylight AR to boost productivity reduce wiring time in some aircraft by an impressive 30%.

However, it is too early to evaluate the positive effects of AR devices on the assembly line but it seems that with its increased accessibility and affordable solutions, the aerospace and defence industry will have technology that will potentially enhance their productivity.

Training and upskilling

Militaries continuously seek to develop safe training environments for pilots and with AR technology, low-risk training missions can be conducted regularly. Augmented reality can merge the real world with a digital overlay where all the threats are simulated. This makes the experience for users more realistic and captivating as opposed to using virtual reality (VR) which will make the simulation entirely digital. The human element of AR makes it a more convincing approach where training and upskilling will be more realistic. AR will facilitate knowledge transfer through on-the-job, step-by-step instructions that are gathered and displayed to the worker’s line-of-sight. Light Guide Systems AR technology has been proving beneficial when leveraging aircraft maintenance, inspection, and training.

The effect of Covid-19

As the pandemic has swept across the world, the demand for immersive technologies has dramatically increased. AR has been a lifeline for industries helping them to pull through unprecedented times. With social distancing measures set to continue throughout the world, virtual aerospace training can be facilitated through its cost-effective capability enabling training exercises to be safely managed, as training together will be less likely. The industry can continue to adapt and strive to operate as usual, using the innovative AR tools that are readily available with Upskill and VIRNECT.

James Watson of XRTech Marketing tells us, “The use of AR for remote assistance has increased immensely as a result of COVID-19. With the resulting restrictions on travel, being able to offer expert assistance remotely is key to keeping factories and production lines functioning.”

The UX Connections View

Chris SainsburyChris Sainsbury
Managing Director

Within the UX profession we often think of a user experience on the medium of a flat screen – but AR, VR and voice also have interfaces it’s vital to get right. At UX Connections we have experience designing for Hololens, Oculus Rift, Google Glass and AR with tablets and semi-transparent screens. Whatever the technology, we can help you map out your customer journeys in detail, prototyping where necessary, and ensure your mixed reality user experience is everything it can be.

Final thoughts

The real and virtual world is blending more with the help of AR. The visually appealing and smart technology is helping to digitally connect the aerospace industry and boost its productivity. With cutting edge tools becoming more available, designers, engineers, pilots, and aerospace professionals can all utilise the positive effects of this immersive technology helping the industry to move forward.

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