By Cathy Hackl, Futurist & Author of The Augmented Workforce
Augmented reality (AR) is no longer a technology of science fiction, but a valuable tool that benefits industries from retail to manufacturing to aerospace and defense. Within the defense industry in particular, AR plays a key role in prototyping assets before they’re ever deployed, monitoring and maintaining equipment in the field, training programs, and more. It is more than just a one-off solution, companies are integrating it within their current ecosystems that include artificial intelligence, IoT connected devices , 5G integrations, and cloud computing.
The global augmented reality market is estimated to reach USD 65.22 billion by 2027. The global pandemic disrupted defense supply chains and manufacturing around the world, and with social distancing, restricted travel, fewer on-site staff, and lack of training tools, AR technology is equipped to help fill in the gaps. The global pandemic forced many aerospace and defense organizations to fast-track the technology they use and upgrade their systems of communication and collaboration. “In an environment where we share the night, the folks who can move faster, decide faster and think faster are the ones who have the advantage on today and tomorrow’s battlefield,” said Brigadier General David Hodne, leader of the U.S. Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team. While Brig. Gen. Hodne was speaking to the United States Integrated Visual Augmentation System (an AR heads-up display that facilitates battle training), his advice rings true of the trend for AR in the defense industry as a whole.
Using Librestream’s Onsight AR solution, one defense integrator was able to fix two downed assets over a weekend. The in-field tech used augmented reality to contact subject matter experts off location to fix the asset so that it was up before the client came into work. Augmented reality– enabled employees at another defense integrator to “be at the scene” of a transport accident and determine only the necessary individuals that needed to physically travel to the site, saving time and money, and increasing employee satisfaction.
It doesn’t take heavy investment in AR headsets to get the benefits of augmented reality technology. Technological advances make smartphones work great for on-the-go, mobile AR. Smart glasses and other mobile handheld devices, like AR– enabled tablets, are efficient for deploying AR in training, on the shop floor, or in the field. When investing in augmented reality for the first time, look for software that runs across multiple devices. If you don’t have an AR headset or smart glasses yet, you can start with the software on smartphones and upgrade at a later time if needed.
While AR technology is no longer science fiction, we’re still in the early days of adoption, despite AR being used in defense applications for many years. The future of defense and intelligence strategy will rely on innovative technology like AR, artificial intelligence, wearables and more.