To best serve workers that use devices in a wider range of locations or on the move, says ABI, cellular connectivity is the better option. ABI predicts that the 5G network - with its extreme throughput, ultra-low latency, and uniform experience - will prove to be the ideal solution for connected AR/VR experiences, and that by 2026 almost 10% of industrial smart glasses and standalone virtual reality (VR) devices will have a 5G connection.
"Wearing smart glasses, rather than using AR on handheld screens, empowers the worker to use both hands and look directly at the work that needs doing," says Marina Lu, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. "AR will enable shop-floor workers to see a digital twin overlaid on a physical object with assembly or repair instructions according to customized needs."
"Remote applications that connect field engineers to a remote expert require high-accuracy interaction and low end-to-end latency for time-sensitive applications, and thus continuous connectivity is vital," says Lu. "When users in field service and maintenance are in remote locations where Wi-Fi is nonexistent, devices can leverage 4G and eventually 5G networks to keep these workers connected and safe."
The firm notes that connectivity vendors like Qualcomm, Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia, as well as telecom companies such as Verizon, SK Telekom, and Orange, view AR and VR as one of the prime use cases for the 5G network. Cellular connectivity could expand the possible working area of AR/VR, ABI says, while low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) can efficiently support simple remote devices that do not communicate frequently while remaining ultra-energy efficient.
The combination of IoT and AR/VR improves the entire value chain for use in manufacturing, the firm says.