MechChem Africa

MechChem Africa visits productONE in Centurion, Pretoria and talks to applications engineer, Ross Anderson, who demonstrates how easily augmented reality (AR) experiences can be created and the advantages of PTC’s ThingWorx AR platform.

While virtual reality (VR) gives developers and gamers experiences of futuristic products and ‘other worlds’ via headsets such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR or the Oculus Rift, AR enables users to see both the real world and the virtual world together. Virtual graphics from detailed 3D models are superimposed onto physical products to provide additional information about real object being examined. “AR can add a virtual control panel or gauges that do not physically exist, enabling real and remote intervention and real information collection,” Anderson explains.

ProductONE BobCat Pump“AR enables the convergence between the physical and digital worlds, which makes all of the knowledge embedded in a digital model available to product users, via AR experiences that can be accessed using smartphones, tablets or a headset such as Microsoft’s HoloLens,” he tells MechChem Africa.

The idea is to create an exact virtual replica of an existing object, called a digital twin, which monitors the properties of its real counterpart – pressure, temperature, load or position – and mimics the state of the physical object. “Data can be continuously and remotely collected, so a history of each property is accumulated, allowing one to understand real world product operation in their actual conditions of use,” Anderson adds.

Describing the origins of PTC’s AR platforms, he says that, in 2015, PTC acquired Vuforia; the AR platform that enjoys a 75% share of the AR app downloads from App Stores. “Vuforia has continued to grow and PTC has created new products called ThingWorx Studio and ThingWorx View that leverage the technology and skills from Vuforia.

“ThingWorx Studio and View are used to create experiences and to view the experiences respectively. In addition, because these tools are connected via the online ThingWorx platform, IIoT data can be easily linked to AR experiences. This is what unlocks the real value and potential of AR. This connection to the ThingWorx platform enables content generators to provide users with relevant and live data/information about the product they are looking at,” Anderson notes.

“ThingWorx View can be downloaded free by anyone with a smartphone or tablet, while Studio is for content creators, to allow them to publish Apps and experiences,” he continues. “In addition, these experiences can also be created directly from PTC’s Creo software suite, which is what I would like to show you now,” he says.

From Creo, Anderson opens a 3D CAD model of a space shuttle. “This is a Solidworks model, but most common formats can also be accessed. I am now going to associate this model with the Thingmark that is allocated to this license of Creo,” he explains. “Each user’s Thingmark can be used to publish several experiences, which can each be opened via a menu that automatically pops up when the Thingmark is scanned,” he adds.

He clicks on the Augmented Reality menu from the Creo workspace, scans in the Thingmark then scales it down and places the 3D shuttle model on top of the it. “We can then simply publish this experience,” he says, following another click.

Click to download and read PDF.

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Name: Brenda Karathanasis
Email: brendak@crown.co.za
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