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AR and the Future of Product Development

June 19, 2018


It wasn’t that long ago that Tom Caudell coined the term “Augmented Reality”; though prior to the evolution of Tom’s genius AR was nascent and trying to find its way in a world that didn’t quite understand or felt need for it. That was a time when most would argue that his work was decades ahead of its time. The year was 1990, Caudell was troubled, like most visionaries, by the feat of having no alternate to big, bulky, and expensive systems that, in his use case, factory workers were forced to use on aircraft assembly lines; the inefficiencies were significant. Along with a colleague he devised a head-mounted device that projected assembly and process instructions, placing vital information in easily accessible, convenient location for the wearer.  He was onto something. By the way, the sport entertainment industry employs AR to virtually overlay critical data on sport broadcasts to enhance the viewer’s experience via content highlighting. 


Today there are ample opportunities around for AR to revolutionize the way people do things; and it will not take over it will enhance.  AR is perfect for the product development process; it offers a means for design evaluation and development throughout the design cycle, bringing the product to life and allowing for pre-production test marketing and even consumer interest evaluation. Imagine being able to visualize the possibilities you envision during the ideation phase of the NPD process, how much transformational value could result? Now imagine using this mix of virtual content and real ideas to enable product developers to plan, build, test, review, and iterate their way to their next ground breaking product. Imagine how a manufacturing facility could modernize its operations, using AR to plan and visualize factory floors, visualize tooling and equipment performance evaluation and status processes; those are critical products too and they require a strategic product development plan. This is the power of AR; and this is what drives LAFORGE, it is about solving meaningful problems that affects millions. 


J. Antonette Jackson is the COO of LAFORGE Optical

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