Smart glasses for industry – when your eyes suddenly see so much more

Can you imagine assembling the servo of a huge multi-stage gas turbine if you have never done it before? Having checked out the smart glasses specially designed for this purpose, you would probably say: ‘Yes, I can!’ Zdeněk Vrbka, Innovation Manager at Konica Minolta, presents the new technology and reports on two rounds of successful collaboration and pilot testing with Siemens in Brno, Czech Republic.

Have you ever tried a pair of smart glasses designed for industry? You would be surprised! #jobwizards http://bit.ly/2myoi60

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‘Steam turbines are complex technological units – their assembly requires the usage of technical drawings and documentation, schemas and different technical procedures, which is time-consuming. That’s why we were looking for a solution that would make the job easier’, explains Martin Bařák, Head of Technology Siemens Brno, regarding the special industrial and digital challenge of the augmented-reality smart glasses’ pilot testing in the production hall of Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery in Brno. The results of the pilot testing are amazing: workers and colleagues connected to the project were pleasantly surprised by the easy usage of the headset plus controller – and the results of the testing came out even more efficient than expected.

Infografik workloud with smart glasses

Smart glasses reduce the workload in comparison with original processes

Augmented-reality smart glasses are lightweight and very easy to use

But let’s go back to the beginning: how and when did the project start? ‘It started about two-and-a-half years ago; there was a meeting with the Director of Siemens R&D in the Czech Republic at an innovation event in the South Moravian Innovation Centre in Brno’, remembers Zdeněk Vrbka from Konica Minolta. ‘At that time, we were still working with the prototype of the smart glasses. We called it Wearable Communicator and it was not as elegant and fine-tuned as the present version.’ The current smart glasses are lightweight, do not interfere with the view, have eight hours of battery life and are very easy to use. How do they work? ‘In the first stage, the worker picks up the components needed for the assembly of the servo, while the glasses help them identify their appearance, number and location. In the second stage, they use the animated wizard guiding them step-by-step through the entire assembly and build up the final set’, explains David Fiala, Project Manager at Siemens Brno.

Portrait

Zdeněk Vrbka
Innovation & Business Development Manager at the Business Innovation Centre, Konica Minolta, who is leading the smart glasses project in Europe. Zdeněk Vrbka is an expert in collaboration on smart glasses initiatives at the Konica Minolta Business Innovation Centre in Brno, Czech Republic. Before (from 2008 to 2014), he worked for several innovative companies in business development and sales positions, including Director of Sales and Marketing. As the Innovation Manager for Smart Glasses, Zdeněk Vrbka is responsible for designing individual and efficient customer solutions and establishing successful business models with the current focus on the European market. Glasses will be available in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany from October 2018.

Zdeněk Vrbka

Users in contact with smart glasses technology are pleasantly surprised

David Komzák is one of the Siemens assembly workers who tested the smart glasses: ‘Although I came into contact with them for the very first time, I was able to assemble a servo drive myself. I was very pleasantly surprised’, he reports. And one of his junior colleagues adds: ‘I was able to use the solution without further assistance after short initial training. In future, if I could choose between assembly with a technical drawing and assembly with smart glasses, I would choose the glasses.’ Wonderful feedback and a compliment to the collaborative testing team. ‘Our team is very passionate about the glasses and I am proud to be a part of it’, says Zdeněk Vrbka. ‘The advantage of cooperation with the Siemens factory in Brno is their great openness to innovative projects.’ From the very beginning, the pilot project enjoyed strong support and interest in implementation of the solution into daily operation once it is launched to the market. ‘Every testing process really is exciting’, explains Zdeněk Vrbka. ‘To me, Konica Minolta is like a start-up – a 140+-year-old start-up, dedicated to innovation’, he continues with a smile.

Data glasses: pilot options allow a lot of flexibility and variety

So far the end users confirm the high usability and flexibility of the smart glasses and a very efficient platform for creation and management of smart glasses’ content at the same time. In future, workers or employers of different companies could use smart glasses as needed and wished: maybe some want to make sure that they do not make any mistakes while assembling a certain object, some want to learn and train by working and doing, some experienced workers will wear smart glasses to create the tutorials for their less experienced colleagues, or some workers will wear them for specific support. ‘The good news is: pilot options and specifically designed customer solutions allow a lot of flexibility and variety to suit every need’, summarises Zdeněk Vrbka, ‘and of course – the people and workers wearing our smart glasses are our top priority’.

Further information:

So far, the smart glasses (WCC) solution has been tested by the Siemens and Honeywell factories in the Czech Republic and John Deere in Germany. All customers confirmed the usability in the production environment (tested by dozens of workers with different levels of expertise). The smart glasses hardware is the production version with the CE mark; the software is the Alpha version – good for pilot projects; product launch is planned for October 2018 in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Portrait Worker with Smartglasses

Junior worker with smart glasses in Brno. The smart glasses come with two components: the ‘Head-Mounted Display’ (‘HMD’) and the ‘Controller’.

Smart Glasses: With the ‘Head-Mounted Display’ comes this little box called ‘Controller’. 

a man with smart glasses in a factory

Put on the ’Head-Mounted’ Display and ’Controller’ and the smart work can start: first the worker picks up the components needed, then he uses the animated wizard guiding him step-by-step through the assembly process.

screenshot of smart glasses
Smart glasses technology supports efficient workflow – starting with a wide range of sensor information, integration and analysis of data, and smart work instructions.
screenshot of smart glasses viewport
Smart glasses overlay digital information necessary for a task onto the real-world environment seen through the transparent prism of the glasses. The digital images displayed on the miniature LCD in the upper frame of the glasses are projected through a transparent prism and reflected by the HOE to reach the eye.
a men working with smart glasses
Big and clear: the smart virtual display is equivalent to a 42-inch display. For more detailed descriptions of the smart glasses click here: https://www.konicaminolta.com/us-en/future/wcc/index.html#sthash.5ubM3NPB.dpuf
blue mashine in a big factory hall

Siemens standard multi-stage steam turbine in the production hall, Brno

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