Last week, LiveWorx 2019 in Boston, Mass., brought many in the industry together to discuss and discover topics that will help form the future of the industrial enterprise. PTC puts on the annual event, which this year focused on topics like IIoT (industrial Internet of Things), robotics, Industry 4.0, and AR (augmented reality). In fact, the theme for 2019 was “The Augmented Workforce.”

AR adds a digital element to a user’s existing environment. Together with its counterpart, VR (virtual reality), which puts users into a computer-generated 3D environment, AR could change industries, including those in the industrial arena. Zion Market Research recently released data suggesting the global AR and VR market will reach $814.7 billion by 2025, which is up from $26.7 billion in 2018. Zion’s research says North America will likely lead the global AR and VR market in the near future, but growth in Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America are all on the rise as well.

In manufacturing, AR and VR could augment processes such as complex assembly, maintenance, expert support, and quality assurance, Zion says. PTC made several AR-related announcements at LiveWorx 2019 that will help fuel the company’s AR business and strengthen its Vuforia AR platform. Announcements included Vuforia Engine 8.3, model-based AR enhanced by AI (artificial intelligence), as well as the ability for industrial customers to use Vuforia Expert Capture to create step-by-step instructions when and where needed, leveraging Microsoft HoloLens’ location-aware capabilities enabled by Azure Spatial Anchor Services.

Select partnerships and acquisition news from LiveWorx this year includes PTC’s acquisition of TWNKLS, an AR services company that develops AR applications and provides AR services to solve enterprise-specific challenges, and a strategic collaboration with Matterport, a 3D and VR solution provider. Together with Matterport, PTC says it’s extending its reach into the industrial space—factories, plants, etc.—offering these customers a targeted AR solution that allows them to visualize and interact with a digital twin. Through a newly announced alliance with Vodafone Business, PTC also plans to help customers in the industrial arena develop new IoT and AR applications through Vodafone’s global IoT platform.

AR’s promise in enterprise is staggering; across sectors, industries, and applications such as service, training, manufacturing, engineering, retail, healthcare, and beyond, AR is bringing data and knowledge to where it’s needed most. It’s improving productivity, increasing compliance, and promoting worker safety, and, in the future, AR and VR will simply be a part of how businesses train their people, service their machines, and achieve other business goals while executing their IoT-related strategies.

The LiveWorx 2019 focus on AR and the workforce is indicative of how the workplace is changing in a connected world. Converging trends like 5G and AR/VR will make AR and VR’s impact even more game changing. For many other IoT-related technologies, too, the coming age of 5G will enable exciting applications of these technologies, creating new opportunities in the enterprise. For more on how 5G will enable the next-gen workplace, read 5G in the Workplace.

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