Manual assembly is a procedural task and assembly assistance incorporates all means that can be used to explain the
assembly steps, to indicate parts that need to be assembled, and to describe the usage of tools. Nowadays, these instructions are digital, text and sketches shown on a display.
The augmented reality (AR) technology can be used to convey assembly instructions for manual assembly tasks. AR applications use visual features for that purpose. In this context, visual features are all graphical objects that are used to design the visual interface and to show the instructions, such as 3D models and digital text. 3D models that superimpose a physical fixture or product literally show how where and how to assemble a part. Research in this area indicates that AR reduces the assembly time and the number of mistakes users make.
First, AR assembly assistance only supports a user when the particular assembly step can be considered as difficult.
Second, AR assembly assistance is only efficient when the visual feature complies with the level of difficulty of the assembly task, in particular, the assembly steps.
To evaluate these hypotheses, we developed a metric that relates different visual features to two levels of difficulty of the assembly task and we conducted a user study. In this user study, we compared two different sets of visual features along with a paper manual as baseline. The results of this study indicate the correctness of these hypotheses; the results are not significant. Additional studies and a better assessment of the difficulty of assembly steps are required. However, the results indicate that AR increases the confidence of the users to be able to repeat the task.
For further information:
Radkowski, R., Herrema, J., and Oliver, J., 2014, "Augmented reality based manual assembly support with visual annotations for different degrees-of-difficulty," International Journal on Human-Computer Interaction [in press]
The Augmented Reality Lab explores the augmented reality (AR) technology and its capabilities for engineering applications.
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