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Nova Systems Insight - Making Augmented Reality Real

Nova Systems Insight - Making Augmented Reality Real

  • Dec 7, 2018

Most people are familiar with Augmented Reality (AR) as a result of viral sensations like ‘Pokemon Go’ and social media experiences such as ‘Snap Chat’ filters.

Grant Krieg, Senior Systems Engineer and Anthony Blunden, Capability Lead -Co- Lead Authors


However, AR is not limited to these types of consumer applications. University research dates back to the 1960s and AR concepts have been used in Heads Up Displays for military aircraft since the 1950s.

Now companies such as Ikea are embracing AR technology to allow consumers to see new furniture in their own home by using a smart phone application and an Ikea catalogue. In the industrial space, AR is being considered as a new technology to assist operators in the maintenance of plants and as a supporting tool in manufacturing.


“We believe augmented reality is going to change the way we use technology forever. We’re already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn.”

Tim Cook, CEO Apple inc.


However, the introduction of any technology is seldom valuable in itself. The outputs must be linked to organisational purpose and coordinated with systems of assets and processes in order to realise value. Structured asset management processes, such as those identified in the International Standard ISO55001, allow for a systems thinking approach to problem solving and the application of new ideas and opportunities.

 Use cases for AR in support of asset management are well known. A recent Harvard Business Review[1] article showed that support to service inspections and remote expert advice are the largest enterprise roles for AR; support to operations, training, safety and quality assurance also feature. When implementing any technology, it is important to remain focused on the link to value; it is only through the realisation of value that technology delivers benefits. Systems thinking and asset management allows not only technical issues to be identified but also wider integration and acceptance considerations.

Nova Systems recently collaborated with SA Power Networks, University of South Australia and global software company PTC, on the demonstration of the University of South Australia AR concept called “Shared Sphere”. The concept is a computer generated 3-D environment based on a 360-degree video feed from a Host User that is augmented with hand gestures and annotations from the Guest User. The Guest User is fully immersed in the Host Users environment courtesy of a Virtual Reality (VR) headset. The Host User’s world is augmented by the Guest User courtesy of images projected into the real-world using AR glasses. Systems thinking was applied and stakeholders determined user requirements to ensure the demonstrations of the “Shared Sphere” technology addressed real world needs, therefore delivering real world value.

By engaging stakeholders with a series of demonstrations, the user experience was enhanced by analysing stakeholder feedback to address issues that were both perceived and real. The feedback was not just limited to the use of the technology itself. It included important feedback on how the technology can be integrated with other user equipment and the compatibility with Personal Protective Equipment.


“Asset management can make a significant impact when companies start thinking about the systems (the collections of assets that provide value) and stop focusing on maintenance of individual components.” 

John Woodhouse, TWPL Managing Director


As with any emerging technology, there are often gaps between demonstrating the capability in a controlled environment and moving to a real-world environment. This includes consideration of communications requirements, system architecture, cost of implementation, robustness and reliability. Including these real-world requirements in the systems thinking discussion in early stages helps to shape the research and engineering design of the system implementation. This makes for a simpler transition from technology demonstrator to value delivering capability.

Considering these aspects early in the product life cycle enables the circumvention of the common issue raised in initial feedback when demonstrating new technology to user groups: “nice technology however it will never work in my environment”. Armed with systems thinking, companies can manage the expectations of the demonstrations and engage with user groups to further refine the technology and implementation solutions. This provides additional information that can be fed back to the researchers and provides a connection and ownership of the technology with user groups. This is an essential initial step to effective change management for when the time is right to “Make Augmented Reality Real”.

The application of technologies such as AR offers exciting potential to improve performance, reduce costs and increase safety. Technology matched with sound systems thinking and aligned with clear enterprise objectives will deliver realised value.

[1] “Augmented Reality in the Real World” By Harvard Business Review Staff, November-December 2017


The above Insight has been published from Nova Systems Energy & Resources program. For further information regarding Digitalisation within complex operations, contact Tim Anderson, Program Manager – Energy & Resources

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