Picking a restaurant isn’t what it used to be: the other day I was out with friends, when I came over all peckish. It was a part of town we hadn’t been to, so I raised my smartphone in front of me. It displayed the streetscape I was looking at, with restaurant ratings and arrows superimposed. I tapped a highly rated Thai place, read a review, then booked a table for 4.
Welcome to the world of augmented reality. Reality+. There are apps that help you find your car, point out bunkers on a golf range, help you find rental accomodation, and translate signage, and that’s just scratching the surface.
Process industries have long lived with a form of augmented reality – sensors connected to transmitters to networks and displays have provided information and analytics on process and equipment for years, and OPC has played a big role in making that easier to deploy and maintain across an increasingly more complicated landscape. Until not too long ago, this was limited to control rooms, and recently moved out to the personal desktop, and occasional web-phone. But isn’t quite the same.
Imagine walking up to a piece of equipment, and instantly have everything about it at your finger tips, just by standing near it: past service history, today’s trend, current alarm status, outstanding work tickets, the location of the maintenance tech etc.
There are 4 key characteristics to augmented reality:
- Information: All the data for the equipment.
- Location: In consumer space, this is provided by GPS. In a plant environment, this may be through RFID or through information gleaned off the wireless infrastructure.
- Processing Power: Carry it with you, or throw it onto the cloud, always-on processing power is a must.
- Security: For consumers, this isn’t a prime concern as most of the information is already public – but for sensitive industries it’s especially important.
One key enabler for augmented reality in the industrial space and beyond is OPC UA. With its integrated security model, support for multiple data types, and platform agnostic design, it’s almost tailored for augmented reality. OPC UA servers like our OPC Universal Connectivity server mean that application developers can rest assured that they’ll be able to connect to any equipment whether they’re building for iOS, Android, QNX or good ol’ Windows. End users can comfortably integrate their existing OPC classic servers into any augmented reality platform.
If you’ve found any cool apps or have any comments you’d like to share, we’d be happy to hear from you.