Smartglasses for the Virtual Workplace

Smartglasses are key to the digital evolution of Industry 4.0. With these intelligent glasses, handhelds, smart phones and scanners are likely to disappear from the digital toolbox.

Typical AR-smartglasses have an optical module in front of the lens. Photo: BMW

Typical AR-smartglasses have an optical module in front of the lens. Photo: BMW

Smartglasses are the latest thing. For exactly that reason the smart opticals are far up on DEKRA’s Digital Innovations Lab’s agenda. “Smartglasses are an innovative interface between human and computer”, DEKRA expert Andreas Grasse explains. The electrical engineer is Digital Innovation Planner at the Stuttgart based Innovations Laboratory, which has been operating under the umbrella of DEKRA IT since the end of 2016. Together with his colleague Sebastian Rolf, Grasse is tracking down the latest developments in the digital sphere. Making a find with smartglasses was no surprise to the trend scouts. After all, new positions with virtual reality interfaces appear in industry and logistics almost on a daily basis.

BMW Initiates Doctoral Thesis on VR at the Workplace

“Smartglasses are the key to virtuality”, Andreas Grasse explains. The most renowned field of which is Virtual Reality (VR). This is an artificial surrounding, produced by VR-goggles linked to a smart phone or computer, in which the user can interact with the displayed objects. Another dimension of virtuality at the workplace is called Augmented Reality (AR). Unlike VR it is much closer to the physical world. Distinguishing mark of Augmented Reality is the connection of real-world objects with digital information in the form of graphics, video and text. The smartglasses in this field look more like ordinary glasses, however, commonly equipped with a processor, a touch pad, sensors and WiFi, have lots of high tech in the frame. The typical design of such smartglasses has a display in the lens and an optical module to position the displayed data at a convenient distance in front of the eye.

DHL relies on the Pick-by-Vision technology in commissioning. Photo: DHL

DHL relies on the Pick-by-Vision technology in commissioning. Photo: DHL

In Logistics Smartglasses Have Already Gone Through the Baptism of Fire

A wide step ahead in terms of AR are Deutsche Post DHL. The corporation is using data glasses as a regular tool for commissioning all over the world already. The thereto developed technology is called “Pick-by-Vision” and will supposedly increase productivity by some 15 percent. The scenario: The employee is connected to the warehouse management system via the smartglasses. When logged in, the order processing starts. The system sends the relevant information to the glasses’ display and leads the employee through the task, step by step. When at the holding area, the storeman activates the scanner to read the holding area’s barcode with a tap on the touch pad, integrated in the side of the glasses. Consequently, instructions to pick the needed products from the rack appear on the display. If at the wrong holding area, an error message pops up.

The HoloLens Opens Up a New World of Digital Experience

The latest thing in the evolution of smartglasses is the HoloLens, introduced by Microsoft in 2016. These stylish glasses don’t have lenses but semi-transparent screens, so the environment is still visible. The glasses’ special ability is to extend reality in a third digital dimension. Provided with the respective software, a computer displays three-dimensional projections using points of light, which are redirected to the user’s sight by prisms and mirrors. These three-dimensional projections can not only be observed, but also moved and manipulated, using gestures or voice input. “The HoloLens is an impressive piece of hardware, opening up a whole new world of experience to the user”, DEKRA expert Andreas Grasse describes his experience. The Digital Innovations Lab has kept an eye on the data glasses for a long time now and has been supervising various scientific projects, examining the application of Microsoft’s solution in education, as well as in vehicle inspection in the framework of the German Touring Car Championship.

The HoloLens is expected to make a career in automotive design. Photo: Microsoft The HoloLens displays stair lifts as three-dimensional projections. Photo: Thyssenkrupp Thyssenkrupp services elevators using the HoloLens technology. Photo: Thyssenkrupp The HoloLens could facilitate processes in the design department. Photo: Thyssenkrupp The system sends the relevant information to the glasses’ display. Photo: Thyssenkrupp Automotive Manufacturer Ford for instance uses the technology for development in their design departments. Photo: Microsoft The glasses’ special ability is to extend reality in a third digital dimension. Poto: Microsoft

Ford Optimizes Vehicle Design with the 3D Data Goggles

Automotive Manufacturer Ford for instance uses the technology for development in their design departments. Here, virtual design elements are projected on a real vehicle or a clay model by the program. With the help of the HoloLens, the designer then can observe the effects of the changes made directly, just as if they were part of the actual vehicle. Furthermore, the team members’ data glasses can be synchronized. Thus, the developers can keep track of a design together. In the end, the HoloLens could facilitate processes in the design department and obviate expansive design studies. The conclusion of DEKRA expert Andreas Grasse: “The HoloLens is a milestone in Augmented Reality. The glasses’ first generation still leaves headroom for further development. However even today, the HoloLens holds great promises for the future.”

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