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14 Martin Wassmann, responsible for Standardized Platform Development about AR & IoT at Airbus

Martin Wassmann is responsible for standardized platform development and the digitization of the cabin technology at Airbus. He has over seven years of experience in how Augmented Reality can be used in conjunction with IoT (= Internet of Things) to make workflows more efficient. In this context, Martin Wassmann has already been involved in the development of several digital transformation processes. In this interview, he talks about why technology is the easiest hurdle to overcome and why it is so important for companies to continue working on innovations despite the crisis.

The Expert

Martin Wassmann


Responsible for Standardized Platform Development | Digitization & IoT | Cabin Engineering at Airbus


Aerospace industry

Points of contact with AR/VR:

private:

  • uses AR e.g. for designing and constructing of his house

  • big fan of AR but not so much of VR due to the isolation

professionell:

  • has been working with AR since 2009:

  • in the context of his work at Airbus, as an independent AR & IoT Manager and at ptc

  • Development of SART (internally known as MiRA) together with Airbus [SART is a Smart Mixed Reality application to facilitate aircraft construction using Mixed Reality and IoT]

  • Development of Vuforia Studio & Chalk together with ptc

"I would really like to see that companies become more open for innovations in the future.”


For almost seven years you have been dealing with AR/VR/XR & IoT in various industries and have received the "Great Innovator Award 2013" of the Airbus Group for your work.

1) Which aspects of the technologies fascinate you personally and based on which characteristics and in which application area do you see the greatest potential for companies?

I am fascinated by the rapid progress of development and the great help for employees, as in the case of Airbus. MiRA uses Augmented Reality to project the components to be fastened without markers at the appropriate points in the aircraft's body. The factory worker attaches the parts to the indicated locations and can then carry out his own self-testing directly afterwards by pressing a button and knows that he has correctly attached all parts. This offers a very great added value for everyone involved in the construction of the aircraft and the error rate is drastically reduced.


Example of using MiRA in 2015. Source: Airbus



2) How exactly are AR & IoT in general connected and how is that used at Airbus?


With MiRA, for example, we use AR and IoT to improve inspections in aircraft. The worker walks through the aircraft with a tablet and sees through AR on the tablet how the construction status should have been and therefore where the fault lies. The worker then takes a photo of the defect, sends it to the database and IoT is used to create a defect ticket for the part.


Example of SART - (Smart Augmented Reality Tool)


While I was working at ptc, we developed Vuforia Studio and Vuforia Chalk, among others. Both tools also connect IoT with AR. I personally find it very interesting.

Example: Vuforia Studio (links) and Vuforia Chalk (rechts)



In addition there is the platform Thingworx, which is also an IoT solution. You can connect various machines, electrical devices, sensors, etc. to the platform and then predict when something is going to be out of order and thus perform device maintenance in advance.

For example, flight attendants can use it to predict when a coffee machine will be out of order and then adjust its use accordingly. In this way, the coffee machine will last until they are at the right airport with the necessary equipment on site.

Of course, a large number of data are required to ensure that the forecasts are as accurate as possible. In contrast to the automobile, we don't have that much data for airplanes yet, because the planes are older and the components used are not "smart", i.e. equipped with artificial intelligence.



3) Due to your long experience in the field of digitization, implementation of AR & IoT:


What exactly are the biggest hurdles and what learnings can you give to other companies and potential users to facilitate integration?

Regardless of which technology is involved, the hurdle is not so much the technology, but rather the approach to the project.

The most important thing when you want to make digital changes in your business is to take the users with you from the very beginning. You have to take their needs into account and take away their fears, such as that everyone will still keep their jobs because of the more efficient way of working that the introduction of the technology brings with it.

Another learning is not to think too big. Not everything has to be automated with robots. You can also start by making small proofs of concepts and merge them at the end. Of course, it also depends on the application, but usually it is better to digitize in small steps in the desired area.

Unfortunately this does not always work that way. Especially when you work in large companies, you also have large projects with many people involved and therefore the progress is slow.



4) Spotlight on the corona crisis: Have you personally noticed changes in your professional or private environment with regard to the relevance of AR/VR?

To be honest, no. Every company is currently busy with innovations. I personally feel that this is also the most important thing we should take with us out of this crisis so that we can return to the market stronger after the crisis. In my opinion, companies that stop working on new things now to save costs will be overtaken by their competitors in the short or long term.



5) "In 5 years, almost every household will own XR glasses like e.g today mobile phones and laptops and will use them for different applications like holiday simulation, shopping, meetings, for teaching/learning”.


What do you think about this statement?


A similar statement was predicted many years ago for the year 2020. It is a beautiful vision of the future, but honestly I don't believe in it. For one thing, because I believe that it is too uncomfortable to put on glasses. On the other hand, because I don't believe that technology will develop so much in 5 years that it will reach the end consumer and everyone will own XR glasses.

It reminds me a lot of the 3D TVs that came on the market a few years ago. I don't know anybody who owns a 3D TV now because it's just too inconvenient with the glasses.

My idea of the future is rather that the technical devices, such as cell phones and Smartwatch will merge more and more.



Finale Statemente of Martin Wassmann:

I would really like companies to be more open to innovation in the future.

Next week on #digitalthursday we will talk to André Neubauer, CTO at Mister Spex. André Neubauer will tell us how and why the online retailer has been using augmented reality for years, revolutionizing the sale of eyeglasses.


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