An augmented reality system to assist technicians with problems in the field or factory has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics (FKIE; Wachtberg, Germany). The system allows technicians to image malfunctioning equipment with a camera affixed to the back of a laptop display. The computer is mounted on a swivel arm so that the technicians can view the screen while carrying out repairs on industrial equipment.
An image-processing program calculates the camera’s position and direction of view and sends this information to the manufacturer over standard telecommunication networks. This enables the experts to view the machine on their monitor from the same perspective as the technicians. They can use the software to write instructions on specific parts of the machine such as “Remove this screw.” These instructions then pop up on the technicians’ screen on exactly the same part of the machine.
“We only transmit location data, not pictures,” says Thomas Alexander, who heads up the research team at FKIE. “At the moment we do that by attaching 2-D barcodes to various parts of the machine. When the repair technician takes a picture of the malfunctioning machine, the software on the laptop reads those markings and links them to information in the database—for example the machine’s identification code and the position and location of the barcodes that appear in the picture. And this is the only information that actually gets transmitted.”
-- Posted by Vision Systems Design