Augmented Reality warehouse: a failure

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The idea is a good one. The operator, tasked with preparing the order of a buyer on the site is literally guided along the paths to the correct location for the “picking”by an intelligent, interactive “heads up” display. As soon as he finds one of the items ordered, it scans the barcode, his glasses record his action, and he can go to the next item. Both hands are free to manipulate objects, no effort to find the right location, virtual arrows guide through the aisles. The demonstration was impressive, but is it possible today to effectively deploy the application?

One such application is not yet deployable at warehouses, admits Isabelle Badoc, product manager at Generix end supply chain. “We tried several types of glasses and their technology is still too limited in terms of uptake. They are not good at reading barcodes, unless you’re very close to the item. In fact, it is not usable in real situations. What we wanted to do with this video is shake the market. The logistics market may find interest in the use of such glasses, and we want to push manufacturers so they do change their glasses to make them usable in the warehouse. We looked at absolutely all models in the market and quickly concluded that Google glasses were not usable for a professional use. Our developments, we conduct now with Epson. We met them and they understood the potential of the Supply Chain market for glasses.”

Paradoxically, it would not be developing applications that poses the greatest problem in this type of project. “If augmented reality requires some skills, there is no real additional cost to the development of such applications. The glasses are considered a mobile terminal, the development is the same as for a mobile application. Access to the WMS and ERP via Web Services. These interfaces existed in Reflex, our WMS, so it was relatively simple to implement these glasses,” says Nicolas Chapu.

Nevertheless, the glasses of this generation are still relatively heavy and it does not seem possible to require an operator to carry them throughout their working day. Finally, performance is still insufficient for reading bar codes. “It is not possible to read a barcode located a few meters up in height, for example. There are some limitations of this type, but the technology is evolving very quickly. We brought our prototype glasses Vuzix and we have seen progress between the two generations glasses ” Nicolas Chapu assures. SAP is also working on the issue and just signed a partnership with Vuzix to offer its first two applications on the M100 model.

Furthermore, experiments have revealed a simple problem, that of prescription glasses wearers. In practice, you can not wear two pairs of glasses stacked all day. If you can put corrective lenses on some models of glasses connected, this type of adaptation swells the TCO of the project and excludes the temporary staff, which are the people who would most benefit from this type of technology.

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