Augmented Reality enables computer-enhanced work

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With an Augmented Reality system like Arvika, complex tasks such as repairs to a BMW 7 can be greatly simplified and speeded up. Augmented Reality means that, with the help of data glasses, a computer overlays virtual information onto what the viewer actually sees. Siemens Automation and Drives and all the partners in the Arvika project recently demonstrated just how powerful these systems have become.

More than 20 scenarios in augmented reality solutions were shown in various stages of development, production and service. One great example of how life will become easier was a an augmented reality system designed for a mechanic/technician - in this particular case, how wearing a special set of glasses will enable a novice mechanic to perform complex tasks with the help of information displayed in animated form into the retina via a heads-up display.

In this case, the complex task at hand was adjusting the valve clearances on a BMW 7 series motor. The instructions and mechanical drawings were available as overlays and animations showed which tool to use on which screw and basically everything you might need to know, with the help of prompts for the order in which to do things, and things to pay particular attention to. When the cover is loose, the user requests the next step using voice activation: Removal of the cover. Arvika specifies step-by-step how to unscrew the small motor from its stays, loosen the contacts, and then install the new part. No more getting out from under the car to consult the oil-stained manual.

The instructions are always situated in the right place, regardless of the user's head movements. From now on, you will probably RTFM, or at least have it read itself to you! In this scenario, the problem was already apparent, but in the case of a defective sunroof, Arvika also helps with troubleshooting. Augmented Reality tells users which functions to try out until it is established which module is defective and needs to be replaced. And Arvika takes you through the replacement too, with the virtual instructions.

The 4-year research project with an overall budget of '21 million was completed in June, 2003 having received half of its financing from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Eighteen partners from industry and from five research institutes participated. Siemens AG was responsible for lead management. The company also handled system integration, was influential in creating a flexible architecture for the underlying technology, and contributed to the design of user-centered systems and interfaces. Arvika enables complex tasks'such as maintenance, repair or commissioning work'to be performed significantly quicker and with lower-level labour.

How Arkiva works In augmented reality, the real image perceived by an observer is augmented with virtual information supplied by a computer and projected into the field of vision by means of a head-mounted display. Voice control supports contactless operation, while video and audio transmission enable a connection to be established with a service hotline.

The Arvika Partners include Siemens Automation and Drives, A.R.T., Audi, Augmented Solutions, BMW, EADS, Index, Volkswagen and WZL.

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