Your new instructor on the plant floor may not be a real person, but a digital being in an augmented reality headset. The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a UI LABS collaboration, recently announced that it has issued seven national applied research, development, and demonstration awards, two of which are augmented reality (AR) projects for manufacturing shop floors.

Rochester Institute of Technology will lead the project: “Manufacturing Work Instructions on Wearable and Mobile Devices with Augmented Reality.” “Authoring Augmented Reality Work Instructions by Expert Demonstration” will be led by Iowa State University.

Eliot Winer, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University, says the project will enable the creation of instructions for an augmented reality-based training system that mimic the actual part manipulations of an expert. “This project builds upon successful research from our project team, which we anticipate turning into real-world applications for manufacturers through the perspective provided by our industry partners.”

Embedding visual instructions in an individual’s environment through projection, wearable elements, or handheld devices can reduce training time and errors at multiple stages of the manufacturing process. AR also allows companies to redeploy experts to other tasks rather than time-consuming training sessions.

Craig Sutton, Manager of Advanced Manufacturing at Deere & Company, said that a critical element to driving manufacturing competitiveness is delivering work instructions to their skilled workforce. “Given the amount of complexity that this workforce manages, written instructions remain a challenging medium. A tool like augmented reality will enable them to improve our productivity and quality measures in our operations.”

DMDII’s projects bring together teams with expertise in a variety of manufacturing disciplines and include major multinational corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government entities, and university researchers. Each project is managed by a lead organization that coordinates work among other organizations on the team. For example, Iowa State University is spearheading a project that includes Purdue University, John Deere, Boeing, Daqri, and Design Mill. Facilitating connections among its diverse consortium to create unique solutions is an important aspect of the UI LABS process.

 Smart glasses wearer by engine turbine.
The Vuzix M100 series smart glasses serve up the digital world hands-free, offering access to information, data collection and more. (Photo credit:

>Source:  DMDII Press Release, May 10, 2016

Augmented Reality May Be Your New Plant Instructor