Unleashing the Power of Data with IoT and Augmented Reality

The number of IoT-connected devices rose from about 6 billion in 2016 to 11 billion in 2018, possibly reaching 20 billion in 2020, according to Gartner. That increase has resulted in a veritable Big Bang of data. Cisco Systems and IDC estimated the volume of IoT-generated data to be about 22 zettabytes (or 22 trillion gigabytes) in 2016. That volume more than doubled to 52 zettabytes by 2019, and it is projected to reach 85 zetta-bytes by 2021. However, data volumes are rising so quickly that many corporations are unable to use all the data they collect.

Huge volumes result in slow processing times, and as a result, the data becomes stuck in data lakes. Moreover, the data sets lack a coherent sequence, and the databases have too many sources to synthesize. Consequently, many companies are finding it difficult to generate data-based insights that employees can use at the right time and in the right place. The other, oft-overlooked challenge to effectively using big data is the standard visualization tools; they aren’t always effective at depicting data from many sources.

Most people need to see data in a visual form to understand it quickly. This is where AR comes in. IoT devices capture data from the physical world so that it can be analyzed, and AR devices take that digital data and render it back on the physical world for people to view and interact with. Unlike virtual reality applications, which require the user to inhabit a virtual environment, AR applications overlay digital information on top of the user’s physical environment. For example, an AR application could add digital content to live camera feeds, making the content appear as if it is part of the physical world. That capability would allow users to interact with data more intuitively.

Several companies have developed AR applications that use artificial intelligence to distill vast amounts and various types of data (including IoT data) into a few critical actions, which are then presented to employees at the right time and place so that they can make informed decisions and better execute tasks. In many industries, companies that aren’t experimenting with joint IoT-AR strategies risk being left behind by rivals. Augmented reality (AR), a technology with enormous promise, is emerging as the key that will unlock the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). AR applications are using the myriad kinds of data generated by IoT devices and components to help employees be more effective and productive.

The Sweet Spots for IoT-AR Solutions

IoT-AR solutions are most useful in business situations where employees (rather than automated systems) make some or all of the decisions and where workers need digital data to more effectively interact with physical objects, such as machines and spaces. IoT-AR applications are also very helpful when the aggregation of large volumes and various kinds of contextual data in a single view would facilitate decision making, when employees need both hands to effectively interact with objects or their environments in real time, and when employees need to interact with objects or parts that are not visible.

The above is an extract from a report “Unleashing the Power of Data with IoT and Augmented Reality” published by PTC.

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