Any piece of technology, machinery or even DIY furniture most probably comes with its own instruction manual. Such manuals have been around for quite some time and range from long complex books to simple two-page leaflets. Nowadays, complex technologies require more instructions and troubleshooting manual versions in order to train individuals and staff. Such is the length and complexity of some of these instructions that users from many industries (especially technicians using advanced electronic machinery and devices) have had to spend hours reading them in order to learn how to handle these new tools.
As Industry 4.0 develops, digitalising any component of traditional industrial processes becomes easier, and for this reason new technologies could help optimise the way companies train their staff. Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, says: “People increasingly spend time on apps and social sites that have a fairly simple interface”. By leveraging this idea and technologies to make manuals more user-friendly for homes, factories and other industries, we could definitely bridge the gap between the real and digital world. This is exactly what the Italian SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) weAR is trying to do.
Breaking down the barriers of AR
weAR was founded in 2014 by Emanuele Borasio, who saw a need to invest in Industry 4.0 by changing the way we interact with user manuals. The company develops a digital platform that allows for the creation of “smart digital manuals”, which can be viewed with smartphones, tablets and smart glasses. They offer advanced user experiences, thanks to the use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality. With a team of multidisciplinary academics specialising in computer vision (remote sensing), the company has been able to create a product that is both easy to use and vital for any business.
“Innovators open up new ways of doing things: they’re explorers who open up new worlds and markets, like colonisers in the 15th century”
Emanuele Borasio, CEO & Founder at weAR Srl
According to Borasio, “A study by Technavio showed that the Maintenance, Repair and Operation (MRO) market will be worth $774 billion by 2020.” Borasio saw this as an opportunity and targeted this market as the main customer for weAR. He adds that “One of the main uses of our technology is related to the support of maintenance activities,” while the technology “aims to keep (or restore) an object in a state where it can perform its required function.” A better understanding of how to use and repair items gives them a longer life span, an important factor in the fight for a less wasteful and more sustainable future.
In order to increase business productivity, reduce errors and optimise staff training, weAR created MARKO, a process-oriented and completely codeless cloud platform that uses Augmented Reality as a visual support for maintenance tasks. Borasio says that “MARKO has been adopted by several international players in the energy and manufacturing sector, with great benefits in the timing and accuracy of execution, simplicity of use and intuitiveness compared to traditional paper-based and on-screen instructions.” The MARKO platform works hand-in-hand with the AR/MR Experience app, which connects users across digital and physical worlds and simplifies the learning curve when it comes to using certain products.
“Innovation needs to be defined and agreed upon in every organisation, making sure that everybody is aligned; without this, we risk losing sight of our primary focus and desired results”
Emanuele Borasio, CEO & Founder at weAR Srl
A bright future for weAR alongside Enel
At Enel, we have had the opportunity to work with weAR since 2015, when the company launched the MARKO MVP. We have seen it grow first-hand, as it has improved the product, making it easier to use, and it has got qualified personnel to test it in realistic circumstances in Italy. Over the years, weAR has constantly been pushing towards solving real challenges in industry. Aside from this, Borasio says that “Thanks to Enel, which in recent years has become a large International Group, we have been able to offer our software in other countries in Europe as well as South America.”
As Augmented Reality technology progresses, weAR has made sure it has kept up to speed with the current market and customer needs. Borasio explains that “Our customers request a ‘digital twin’ of their products on which to overlap layers of content (coming from multiple information sources, such as IoT and EPR systems). They require us to develop predictive maintenance activities, and this has prompted the team to look for new solutions to improve the platform user experience and increase its potential.” And that is why weAR is now creating new software that can switch from simple Augmented Reality to Mixed Reality, superimposing customers’ digital twins directly on real products and essentially providing an added value to the user experience.
Together with us at Enel, weAr is taking part in the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show 2020 where it interacts with other industry players and identify new technologies that can be included in their software. As the company makes its mark on the innovation ecosystem by transforming traditional processes, we are thrilled that it is working alongside us as we strive towards a more sustainable future.