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Intro

Augmented Reality is a technology that is now becoming available to consumers fingertips thanks to the explosion in the use of smart phones. 
This opens up all kinds of possibilities, some useful, some not, for enhancing the camera view of handheld devices.

What is Augmented Reality 

If you have not yet encountered Augmented Reality then Timo Elliott gives a great description in his blog.

The BI prototype came too late for me to consider, I had already made the choice to use Layar.

Layar is available on both Android and iOS, so this made it a simple choice. Covering both popular platforms ensured that the implementation was not tied to any specific platform. 

Plant Maintenance Scenario 

The scenario used for the demo was “Maintenance Inspections”. The service technician will collect their shop papers and perform a maintenance inspection. This can involve visual inspection of equipment and also taking readings. Any contextual information a technician would have, would have to be carried with them in printed form.

Augmenting the Scenario

The Augmented/Mobile scenario was to replicate the shop papers on the technicians mobile device. This simply required that the maintenance orders were read and then made available with any supporting information in JSON format for Layar. 

The first enhancement to the equipment/measuring point master data was to include the geo-location for each equipment. Without this, the Augmented Reality application would not be able to identify individual items.

Simply taking the technician to the equipment is useful on its own, but so much more can be provided. Contextual information unique to the measuring points can be provided. This can be in the form of images, manuals, schematic diagrams, installation instructions and min/max measurement data.

The first view show here is the augmented view. This shows the view through the camera overlaid with helpful information for the user. An image of the equipment allows the technician to verify the correct piece of equipment as they traverse the plant. The radar at the top right shows the relative location of each piece of equipment:

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The information includes images of the device (this can be 2D or 3D), measurement information in the form of min/max values (not shown here) or the values read in the case of a piece of equipment already inspected. 

The same equipment information can be shown on a map, with images of the equipment showing to guide the technician on their rounds:

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The list display is similar to a job card view and is a list of the tasks/equipment inspections for the technician:

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Each piece of equipment has an associated list of actions. These actions are specific to the equipment. This is where it gets really interesting. Contextual actions make providing a lot of equipment specific information on the mobile device simple. These actions can take the form of user manuals, vendor contact details or a means to enter the measurements directly on the device and receive immediate feedback. Actions can also use native features of the mobile device, such as the camera for SMS, making calls or sending emails.

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When entering measurements the immediate feedback can be provided such as shutdown information in the case of a critical reading.

Next Steps

This application was created as a proof of concept on how Augmented Reality can be used to improve an existing process. Maintenance seemed to be an obvious one, but I am sure that there are plenty more. It would be interested to investigate other processes.

I used PHP to provide my Plant Maintenance data to Layar after it was updated by a scheduled report running on the Plant Maintenance system. The PHP is not mandatory and could be replaced by an ABAP based approach using one of the JSON libraries that are available now, assuming the Plant Maintenance server is publicly available.

If there is enough interest I will create a project in Code Exchange to provide an extensible integration with some Augmented Reality applications. 

Demo Jam Video

You can see the Demo Jam Las Vegas presentation here: http://www.sapteched.com/usa/activities/demojam.htm

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