At the sold-out LiveWorx 18 in Boston, PTC announced a wide range of new initiatives for augmented reality (AR) coming out of its business unit dedicated to the advancement and application of augmented reality in industrial settings.

Augmented reality is one of the fastest growing segments of the technology market. AR superimposes digital information onto a person’s view of the physical world. For manufacturers, augmented reality can enhance all functions within the product lifecycle, including engineering, manufacturing, marketing, sales, operations, and service. The transformative nature of AR and the vast opportunities available to businesses embracing AR were recently highlighted in a Harvard Business Review article, co-authored by Harvard Business School Professor, Michael Porter, and PTC CEO, Jim Heppelmann.

“We saw the significant benefit augmented reality could have for enterprises years ago, and the market is beginning to catch up and embrace the potential as well. Our recent momentum and continued focus not only strengthens our leadership in this space, but also enables PTC to help companies unlock the potential of augmented reality across all kinds of environments and use cases more effectively,” Heppelmann said. “Our dedicated augmented reality business unit enables us to sharpen our focus on the application of AR in industrial settings and create additional opportunities for businesses.”

The dedicated PTC augmented reality business unit combines top talent and award-winning technologies, including the Vuforia platform. PTC has leveraged Vuforia to expand the capabilities of its ThingWorx industrial innovation platform, enabling customers to visualise, instruct, guide, and improve interactions with physical things.

The service use case for augmented reality gets even more powerful with the commercial release of the Vuforia Chalk remote assistance app that empowers people to solve technical challenges faster by providing frontline technicians the instructions and guidance they need in real time. Vuforia Chalk combines advanced augmented reality technology with real-time video to connect a field technician with an expert so that the expert can see the situation in the field. The advanced computer vision technology in Vuforia Chalk uniquely enables users to draw digital annotations that accurately ‘stick’ to physical objects, allowing the expert to guide the technician through a process, step-by-step; even as a technician moves, a Vuforia Chalk annotation will remain anchored to its original location.

PTC recently acquired advanced AR technology from Waypoint Labs, an award-winning tech start-up launched out of the MIT Media Lab. Waypoint software can chronicle the real-time movements of a person wearing an AR headset by monitoring the individual both audio-visually and spatially in three dimensions. It enables users to capture this information through a knowledge processing engine and convert it into any number of formats, including an interactive website with photos and videos, Microsoft Word documents with photos, or an interactive AR training where trainees wear a similar headset. Waypoint supports a variety of industrial use cases, such as enabling manufacturers to create and distribute service manuals and product documentation, and biotech labs to develop AR-powered standard operating procedures (SOPs) to improve quality and compliance.

The Waypoint and recently acquired Reality Editor software currently make up the PTC Reality Lab, a PTC incubation zone for emerging augmented reality technologies. PTC is working to integrate these newly acquired technologies into its existing augmented reality portfolio.

To make its entire AR portfolio more accessible and impactful, PTC continues to collaborate with leading hardware makers to advance the adoption of value-driving AR experiences. Today, PTC is announcing its immediate support of Realwear and Vuzix devices.

The Vuforia platform has received accolades from industry experts and analysts, including a recent award from Compass Intelligence for top B2B augmented reality application.  

The Vuforia platform continues to be widely adopted, with over 6,500 customers using Vuforia in industrial settings. In addition, more than 10,000 participants have joined PTC’s Vuforia Studio Free Trial program, providing valuable feedback on use case priorities and hardware requirements, and over 500,000 registered developers use Vuforia as their preferred platform to create AR apps.