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Aixtron Indulges in a Three-Year Augmented Reality Research

Aixtron, a deposition equipment company, wants to reap the benefits of the digitization opportunities to optimize the development and constant updating of technical equipment manuals. For this purpose, Aixtron is researching augmented reality’s potential applications in customers’ product documentation.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology leads the project that comprises 11 project partners and Aixtron solely as an associated partner. They are creating an AR system with the help of a Digital Twin that is acting as the data basis, and it is called the AdaptAR research project. Its duration will be three years, and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding AdaptAR in the “Innovations for tomorrow’s production, services and work” program.

Augmented Reality and Digital Twin

Thomas Leipold, Aixtron SE’s project manager digitisation, said that up-to-date, user-friendly, and specific documentation is vital for the successful functioning of a high-tech device. The company wants to utilize the digitization opportunities for more development in this section for its customers by contributing their experience and know-how to the AdaptAR.

Leipold further said that users wish to utilize the project outcomes as the basis for system documentation that also extends over a system’s whole life cycle. Augmented reality presents an interactive depiction of the actual environment, in which, for instance, a factory system is provided with computer-derived information along with visual and auditory information of the processes. Each factory product is offered a so-called digital shadow or Digital Twin.

Digital Unexplored Area in Documentation

A system’s digital image, for instance, is to possess all the associated product, job, process as well as resource data in a local database. Additionally, connected IT systems will be used to provide additional data to the Digital Twin. Such a connection will optimize both decision making and knowledge management. For entirely synchronizing the real and the virtual world, the data has to be continuously gathered, stored, and processed.

The firm expects that a Digital Twin and augmented reality-based solution will make it more convenient to build, use, and maintain technical manuals than earlier. The potential visualization also permits a greater understanding of complicated procedures. The technology is to be joined with a remote service offer.

An external expert can handle tasks together with the customer. It leads to further user-friendliness improvement as well as a massive reduction in time and effort. Fraunhofer IPT estimates a maximum of 70% savings in the time and effort needed to develop technical instructions. Thomas Leipold also said that the continuous database information updating helps them ensure that there is an up-to-date system containing every relevant product data throughout the whole product life cycle.

Leipold then explained the firm’s vision where customers can call up instructions for managing a task directly on-site through a modern device like Smart Glass or tablet and get external specialists’ guidance through a remote service. The firm is already taking the first step. Aixtron is using the digitization benefits for its clients by utilizing remote services through smart glasses in cooperation with first customers.

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