February 28, 2018

Augmented Reality Work Instructions

Boeing and Deere don’t work in the same industry, but they face a common problem: seasoned manufacturing workers are retiring, and with them the decades of knowledge they’ve amassed working on the shop floor. They are both participating in an MxD project that captures information from an expert demonstration and turns it into augmented reality (AR) work instructions. The next generation can access these visual work instructions by putting on smart safety glasses and seeing what to do overlaid on their environment. Using AR instead of traditional written instructions has been shown to reduce the time needed to complete a task and bring the error rate to almost zero. This project comes at a pivotal workforce transition - facilitating knowledge transfer between experienced and younger workers is critical to future competitiveness and AR has proven its effectiveness as a training tool, especially for complex manual processes.


The product resulting from this project is a simple and intuitive method for rapidly authoring AR work instructions by tracking and recording the actual part manipulations of an expert using 3D cameras with advanced image processing and computer vision algorithms. The solution comes complete with hardware specifications and software demonstrations on assemblies from Boeing and Deere. What’s next? The team is working to bring down the cost of the camera and software. Iowa State is working to identify commercialization partners who can ready this for general commercial availability.