(featured in Fabricating & Metalworking – March 2017; written by Roger Michaud)

Smart Technologies and Augmented Reality are a growing part of the future of manufacturing. Shops must embrace this growing interaction between humans and computer systems in order to remain competitive in the future. 


The Internet of Things (IoT), or Industry 4.0, has already begun to influence manufacturers. In the future, this interaction between humans and computer systems is expected to continue to improve such that all businesses will need to embrace this change in order to be successful. As the digital networking of data, machines and humans becomes increasingly important, augmented reality (AR) is poised to give metal fabricators across the board a decisive advantage. It is already an established form of interaction between machines and humans, and eventually it will offer complete integration between the real world and a virtual one.

Augmented reality also presents a new opportunity for manufacturers to optimize working methods and procedures. The decreasing cost and increasing performance of the hardware has fostered additional research on AR technologies. This research has led to the development of new areas of application, vast improvements to the technology and the ability to impact an even wider range of processes. As a result, the AR market could grow to nearly $90 billion by 2020, according to a recent industry analysis report by Digi-Capital (San Francisco, CA).

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