The latest news, reports and trends in augmented reality for industry, reported here.

Augmented reality is ready now to dramatically improve fabrication performance

In the 1800s, Scottish inventor James Watts and his steam engines transformed forever the way fabricators power their plants and facilities. It was a technology improvement that dramatically altered not only industry and business, but also culture and society.

Centuries later we stand on the precipice of another technology that’s radically altering business, culture and society: augmented reality. We’ve already seen its profound effect on culture in the form of masses of people playing Pokemon Go.

But like the steam engine of the 1800s, augmented reality is making an equally titanic shift in the way engineers, designers and planners communicate with building, inspecting, operating and maintaining fabrication equipment, plants and facilities.

The next few years will see leaders and change agents within fabrication take steps to transform their businesses using augmented reality.

The simple way of defining augmented reality is that it is the overlay of digital information on the real world. It’s the first-down line you see on the screen of American football games.

Augmented reality enhances workers’ capabilities by providing information when, how and where it’s needed. In many cases, augmented reality reduces or eliminates non-value added work such as reading drawings or measuring.

Digital information such as 3D models, audio, video, text, animations and others can be put in the hands of a worker, supervisor, inspector, or technician using augmented reality displayed on a powerful mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone.

Early adopters are already seeing remarkable results with augmented reality. In one inspection project, color coded augmented reality was used to highlight temporary components requiring removal. Using augmented reality deployed on a tablet, a 40-year veteran engineer was able to reduce a 36-hour, paper-based process to 90 minutes, translating to a 95 percent reduction in cost and schedule.

If it’s not already obvious — thanks in no small part to the tide of Pokemon Go players around the world — augmented reality will be everywhere in a few years.

With that in mind, companies that begin today to learn, understand and experiment with the power of augmented reality technology will gain a significant competitive advantage over their rivals.

An investment in augmented reality is actually an investment in people. Dramatically improving a company’s advantage in the market with augmented reality means the company’s value increases, which flows to employees.

Just as James Watt can attest, technological advances like the steam engine of long ago and augmented reality of today are boons to business, society and culture.