Game On: Augmented Reality Is Helping Factory Workers Become More Productive
April 19, 2018
Jimmie Beacham is no gamer, but that didn’t stop him from hanging an Xbox console from a ceiling at work. As chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at GE Healthcare, Beacham, 44, is in charge of a futuristic laboratory in Waukesha, Wisconsin, experimenting with new ways to make things. He and his team are using the Xbox and a connected Kinect motion tracker to bring augmented reality (AR) into the factory and help workers become more efficient. “We are projecting the work instructions onto the parts and use sensors to monitor the assembly and give feedback to the operator,” Beacham says.
Specifically, the Kinect and a camera are following the worker’s movements and feeding them to a computer that stores the assembly instructions. The computer controls an overhead projector that displays the manufacturing steps on the workbench. Based on the visual and sensory feedback, the system signals the operator immediately if an error occurs or guides them to the next step. Visitors to the lab can use AR to assemble a collimator similar to those used in computed tomography scanner (watch the video below).