Denis Bederov: How AR is changing engineering

augmented reality and engineering

Augmented Reality is a technology of unprecedented potential. You’re probably tired of hearing this in an age where events of colossal significance happen all the time, but this is a truly groundbreaking concept that could change our lives as we know them.

You’ve probably heard something about Virtual Reality used in computer games, but what you may not know is how spectacularly Augmented Reality is able to change our immediate environment today.

Augmented Reality Is The Operating System Of The Future, says Forbes, and we can’t help but agree.:

“Because we are starting to digitally paint over default reality, layering on data, insights, and entertainment in virtual or augmented layers. When we shift from smartphones to smartglasses over the next decade, this will only accelerate. From games to street directions to metadata, from industrial heads-up displays to virtual gamescapes to workspace information, these new augmented, virtual, and extended realities will be aware, data-rich, contextual, and interactive.”

Put simply, AR is a form of technology that is used in headsets to virtually add details to the real environment you can see. AR technology can be used for many purposes: It can reduce the rate of accidents on the road by giving children a safe, simulated environment where they can learn how to ride their bikes to school.

It can allow medical students to train virtually before performing highly complex surgeries in real life. It can aid engineers in their tasks, drastically reducing their work time as well as their stress levels.  You may be familiar with a Ted talk by Brian Mullins who engineered Daqri, a company notorious for blending the fields of augmented reality and engineering.

“We used augmented reality in the assembly of a gas turbine power plant. Just one step of that assembly required 8 hours of classroom time and 450 minutes to complete the task. And it was taught in that way so that the workers could perform the work without having to worry about making a mistake. Now, with augmented reality the difference was staggering. With no classroom training and putting it to work right away, the workers got it done in less than 50 minutes. 50 minutes! (Furious applause)”

Augmented reality has a tremendous array of applications. Not only could you do something as frivolous as playing really good Counter Strike GO – you could go back in time and talk to Leonardo da Vinci  – or get personal and interactive tuition from Tony Robbins, which as you know, costs millions. If you think of PC games as a waste of time, the latest research proves they can sharpen reflexes, increase intellect, and significantly reduce aggression, which could be precisely what the world needs.

“Augmented reality is a brilliant and astounding concept,” says AR expert and engineer Denis Bederov, “but it is also more than just a concept. It’s part of our lives. In order to really understand it, let’s take a look at how it works.

“Staggeringly helpful, as you can imagine, in the military, AR is also immensely useful in the field of  engineering,” says Denis. Dexter Liley, VP of Index AR Solutions estimates that there is a 90 percent reduction in costs and schedule when it comes to usage of AR in engineering. Not only are the costs drastically reduced thanks to saved time, but it’s also a lot easier for engineers to follow interactive instructions if they have the visualized final result in front of them.

Usage of smart glasses in the workplace can massively boost confidence, productivity, and leave time for workers to either maintain a better life/work balance or do more work and achieve greater results. As you can see, we will very likely see dramatic shifts in how quickly things get done in engineering, and, as a consequence, how much gets done in the same period of time, and also in the levels of anxiety in the workplace, which will be dropping sharply as AR equipment becomes more available at lower costs.”

The difference between VR and AR

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, MR, XR and so on are all interrelated and interlapping technologies.

If you ask an expert, they’ll tell you there are so many overlapping areas that the differences between these technologies are extremely complex, but for the sake of simplicity, Virtual Reality is a new reality that is created when you put on a headset.

Augmented (+ added content or size, expanded) reality takes the reality you see and adds details to it. Thus, if you put on AR glasses, you can look at an empty room and add details like tables and clothes hangers and wardrobes — and you will see what your future shop looks like. Plus, you could request for the program to connect to the Internet and calculate how much the items will cost.

In the same way, an engineer can put on AR glasses, look at a surface where there’s nothing there but a QR code, and see a machine part that they have to work with. This same method can help student trainees learn to perform complex surgery.

How can AR be used to train surgeons?

Engineering and surgery are similar fields in certain ways, and both can benefit massively from AR. Training surgeons to operate on virtual patients significantly reduces the risk of error, and it allows trainees to overcome anxiety-related health issues and become more efficient in a drastically decreased period of time. Usage of AR gloves allows trainees to have tactile involvement–and this type of training is also useful for surgeons who want to improve existing skills.

“It’s one thing to read something and then to operate on a real person, and another completely to operate a thousand times before that in a safe environment. The difference in results is stunning. Similarly, in terms of engineering, using the example above, stress levels, the time the work takes, and risks are dramatically reduced – all through usage of AR. It’s extremely likely this new tech will transform the world as we know it in the same way the introduction of automobiles revolutionized the transportation industry and the introduction of emails revolutionized the way post is delivered,” says Denis.

How can AR be used in architecture?

If you’re into gaming (frivolous, we know, but bear with us), you may have heard how the recently burned down Notre Dame will be rebuilt using visual rendering, VR, and something called augmented reality architecture.

Notre Dame, for which sadly there are no blueprints, will be built again using 3D maps meticulously and painstakingly rendered by a 3D artist so that the cathedral could be drawn in a PC game called Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Lucky for the architect that the 3D maps were there, otherwise there would be no clear instructions on what to do!

How can AR revolutionize engineering?

“AR actually dates all the way back to 1950,” says Denis, “to the father of VR Morton Heilig’s Sensorama Simulator invented in 1962, which enabled the user to feel like they’re riding a motorcycle, and Ivan Sutherland’s consequent invention, “the ultimate display”. Today, the level of usage of AR is growing fast, and according to estimations, AR’s revolutionizing potential may far outdo that of VR”.

“Also,” says Denis, “don’t forget that the technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, which means soon not only will we be able to see Notre Dame rebuilt using 3D maps from a game, but while new buildings conceptualized, drawn and assembled by machines in astonishingly short periods of time. It is quite likely that with the help of VR buildings used to take years to build in a decade or so will take weeks to produce from zero”.