NGRAIN is a developer of industrial Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality technology for manufacturers, maintainers, and operators of complex equipment. They have developed a breakthrough 3D platform that enables AR/VR to be used in training, on-the-job support, and field inspection activities, helping businesses save time and money. For example, NGRAIN has helped reduce training time by 30%, complete maintenance tasks 30% faster, and reduce assembly errors by 22%. In this post, NGRAIN head of product and business development Dr. Barry Po talks about the new role of 3D in AR/VR and some recent innovations at NGRAIN.
The role of 3D is changing
NGRAIN has been in business for over 15 years, originally as a technology company that was looking for ways to make 3D more accessible to the industrial world. It seems crazy now, but in the early 2000’s, discrete Graphic Processing Units (GPU) were still in their infancy, and there was a sense that 3D was an expensive privilege for the elite few businesses that could afford it. Since then, we’ve all seen the explosion of 3D applications, everything from product design to virtual training. And now that 3D is effectively commonplace in many businesses, what we are interested in at NGRAIN is charting the path for where 3D will go next in the enterprise — and we think that AR and VR are going to play a key role.
It used to be the case that 3D content creation was the exclusive domain of the 3D artist, architect, or CAD engineer. But now, 3D authoring tools have opened up the audience for 3D/AR/VR to people who may be SMEs — subject matter experts — but not necessarily experts in computer graphics. NGRAIN offers a software product called NGRAIN Producer Pro, which makes it possible for training teams, technical writers, and instructional designers to create 3D training content or AR/VR scenarios, deploy it out to laptops, mobile devices, tablets, or even wearable smart glasses – all without the need to write a single line of code.
The ultimate beneficiaries of 3D are changing — 3D is no longer just for product design or manufacturing. AR/VR capabilities on mobile devices and smart glasses are making it possible to connect workers in the field with access to all of the information they need for them to do their jobs. Want to know how that assembly you’re working on operates? Just tap on the part on your tablet. Need to get step-by-step instructions and feedback on whether you’ve done your job right? Access them on your glasses in real-time. These kinds of “downstream” uses of 3D as content for industrial AR/VR applications open up the possibility of using 3D not only as a tool to support product lifecycle management, but also as a capability that transforms maintainers and technicians into key decision makers who are able to respond to changing conditions in real-time.
AR and VR in the Enterprise
We’re excited about all the opportunities there are for AR/VR technologies to fundamentally transform the way people work across an entire range of industries. Take for example, visual inspection of assemblies or complex equipment. This is something that is often a necessity in the maintenance and repair of vehicles, or part of first article inspection in the manufacturing world.
One of the things we have developed here at NGRAIN is technology to use 3D scanners to simply “scan” an assembly or piece of equipment to instantly verify if it has been assembled correctly or automatically diagnose what ways it might be damaged. These kinds of capabilities have the ability to change the underlying economics of maintenance and repair in the enterprise. Instead of these kinds of activities taking days, what if it were possible to do it in minutes?
Fusion 360 + NGRAIN
Creating useful 3D content remains a challenge for businesses to overcome. We have recently partnered with Autodesk to provide a connector for Fusion 360 that allows any Fusion 360 supported format, including many major 3D and CAD formats, to be converted into NGRAIN content compatible with NGRAIN Producer Pro. Once the content is available in the NGRAIN format, you can use Producer Pro to link useful meta-data to individual parts, create instructional content like step-by-step instructions, and add animations, video, and audio for playback in virtual training scenarios, tablets, and AR/VR devices including smart glasses from Epson and ODG.
To learn more about NGRAIN Producer Pro + Fusion 360, NGRAIN will be hosting a Webinar. Register today!