Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes data like sound, video, graphics, GPS information, text and more; into our direct view of the physical world around us. As the name indicates, this type of application enhances our own perception of reality and helps us navigate through it in a more efficient way.
While it may sound like a difficult concept to grasp, augmented reality is not difference than the experience we live when we watch a sports event on TV and are able to observe information on the screen about scores, times elapsed, names of the players and notes on interviews and commentators. In those situations, we are watching a version of an event that is being enhanced with the extra information displayed and using the technology we have available.
Augmented reality has an application to many different branches of business that go from education and health all the way to merchandising, military and of course, logistics.
In this article of David Kiger’s Blog, we want to talk about the way augmented reality is one of the most important technological advances changing the world of logistics today and how its applications go beyond what our own initial perception of the technology leads us to believe.
While most of the media coverage today, when it comes to augmented reality, focuses on solutions that are still in the early stages of development; we have to accept the fact that the possibilities are something worth getting excited over. Augmented reality is a lot more than simply information being displayed in our direct line of sight, it also includes a constant and live exchange of data between the world that our device is “seeing” and the information it can retrieve about that world in order to enrich our own interaction with our surroundings. Imagine a scenario in which you can see a live display of reviews of a particular product that you are thinking about purchasing at a store or even doing your own troubleshooting with your home computer, putting together a piece of furniture or even repairing your own automobile with nothing but your “smart glasses” guiding you through the process and helping you identify the issue.
The current development of AR solutions focuses on both software and also hardware that is able to keep up with the demanding specifications effective AR applications will need.
Handheld devices (smartphones), stationary AR systems (smart wardrobe screens), spatial augmented reality systems (3D projection), Head-mounted displays (virtual reality glasses), smart glasses and smart lenses are some of the current types of platforms that can be used to deliver this technology.
How does it affect the world of logistics?
Even with this technology being still in its early stages, it doesn’t take much to start to identify possible applications in the world of logistics and its significant benefits. Giving access to information in such an intuitive and effective manner to logistics providers, can offer benefits to many areas of the entire supply chain and specifically to many different areas of the logistics process.
While warehouse operations are said to account for nearly 20% of the entire cost of logistics, you can focus even further into activities like picking, that subsequently amounts to 60% of warehousing movement. Imagine if picking could be optimized by using a system that allows workers to receive information by just looking at different areas of the warehouse without the use of any paperwork. We all know that the optimization of picking processes is one of the main focuses of warehouse operations improvement, and augmented reality solutions may offer real sound alternatives to systems that are falling behind in effectiveness.
Planning the distribution of warehouse operations is also another great advantage that AR solutions may offer to the world of logistics. AR models can allow warehouse operation planning to be done in partially virtual environments in order to run scenarios and visualize planner arrangements in full scale in order to make corrections before hand, saving time and money in considerable amounts.
From preload checks to navigation and delivery, augmented reality can improve the efficiency and reliability of freight transportation in the world of logistics.
When it comes to loading, an operator can simply glance at a load and know it is complete while receiving other relevant information like the number of pallets and single parcels present without the need to time-consuming manual counting. Augmented reality can also support global trade services by ensuring regulations are being met and proper documentation is has been correctly completed.
GPS technology is already helping drivers and operators take control of routes and minimize their transit time. With AR systems, this technology can advance even further by using peripherals that are more intuitive and that can deliver information faster than ever before. One of the greatest advantages of this is the fact that drivers do not even have to take their eyes of the road in order to utilize the technology, ensuring their safety while at the same time enhancing their experience.
* Featured Image courtesy of Martin Hieslmair – Ars Electronica at Flickr.com