b<>com Overview: Revolutionizing 3D Localization and Augmented Reality in Industry 4.0.

Article laval virtual

Just days before the Laval Virtual expo dedicated to the immersive technology industry, IRT b<>com unveils one of its new features for 2024, b<>com Overview, augmented reality at the industry's service. Jérôme Royan, VR, AR, AI Senior Scientist, and Catherine Bouthéon, Marketing & Sales Manager, answer our questions in this joint interview to fully understand this new b<>com solution to revolutionize augmented reality and optimize your industrial processes.

Can you give us a concrete description of what the b<>com  *Overview*solution is?

Jérôme: b<>com *Overview* is revolutionizing augmented reality by offering a localization solution using one or multiple cameras, which is accurate, robust, and operates on the scale of a factory or a building. Thanks to computer vision algorithms deployed on servers, we map the real environment in 3D with high precision, enabling the real-time localization of many augmented reality (AR) devices anywhere and anytime.

Overview b-com

Who is the 3D localization solution intended for? 

Catherine: This solution, initially designed to meet the needs of Industry 4.0 and Construction 4.0 within production factories or construction sites, can also be applied to any sizeable indoor environment, such as museums, hospitals, train stations, airports, etc. We offer it directly to industrial companies that develop their augmented reality applications in-house and to integrators. It's an ideal solution for them due to its robustness, easy updates, and plug-and-play nature, simplifying their client deployment and integration.

How will this 3D localization solution revolutionize and optimize industrial processes?

Jérôme: The b<>com *Overview* solution enables large-scale deployment of multiple augmented reality applications in a factory or construction site context to improve productivity and quality. Many use cases can benefit from our solution. Let's start with compliance control, which involves displaying the digital model as expected in augmented reality on the actual object to quickly identify defects or help in maintenance or assembly by displaying perfectly located instructions for the procedure with the machine an operator is working on. Our solution can also assist in navigating operators in indoor environments by showing the path to reach a location. Additionally, it can display data produced by the numerous IoT sensors equipped with production tools at the right location for predictive maintenance, thereby reducing unexpected downtime and improving equipment reliability.

Catherine: Our technology can also facilitate interaction between human operators and autonomous machines, such as AGVs and robotic arms, thus improving safety and productivity on the production site. Moreover, our solution allows for rapid adaptation of production to changing market demands, offering unparalleled flexibility for industries to meet their evolving business needs. Another example is that our technology enables clear visualization of hazards in the workplace, such as electrical risks, ionizing or electromagnetic radiation, and heat sources, which is crucial for prevention and risk management, especially in sensitive environments like nuclear power plants.
In summary, b<>com *Overview* offers a comprehensive suite of essential functionalities to enhance industrial operations' safety, efficiency, and flexibility.

Why is this solution innovative compared to other existing solutions on the market? 

Catherine: What sets us apart from other solutions is our ability to provide precise 3D localization even in complex and large-scale environments, such as buildings or factories, right from the launch of the applications, without requiring prior preparation. b<>com's *Overview* offers the most advanced 3D mapping system currently available: the solution is faster, more accurate, and interoperable. It only takes 5 minutes to create a 3D map that will be continuously updated over time.                                                         

Jérôme: I can specify that we were able to test the solution on an area covering over 1000m² across multiple floors using a single 3D map. To expand this coverage, we are working on enhancing the system's capability to support a large number of maps in parallel, enabling coverage extension over several tens of thousands of square meters. This functionality will be available by mid-2024.

Beyond scalability, data sovereignty is an argument to which industrial players are particularly sensitive. 

Jérôme: Data sovereignty is crucial for businesses, especially in the current context. With *Overview*, you have complete control over your data. You can choose to deploy the solution and store the data it produces on your servers. Suppose you don't have cloud or edge infrastructure or prefer not to use them to store your data. In that case, we offer a plug-and-play solution as a "flight case" integrating either Wi-Fi connectivity or private 5G connectivity. In any case, you remain the owner of your data, which remains secure on your servers.

Why this name? b<>com *Overview* conveys the idea of a general outlook, putting things into perspective, having a global vision, and large dimensions. It also expresses the notions of control and practicality.

Catherine Bouthéon

Marketing and Sales Manager

How does b<>com *Overview* utilize the concept of crowd mapping, and how does it represent an advantage for users of the solution?

Jérôme: Crowd mapping is a crucial element of b<>com *Overview*. This functionality enables users to maintain an updated map of their real environment through collective participation. Specifically, this means that any augmented reality device connected to the b<>com *Overview* platform can automatically report visual observations regarding environmental changes if its user is authorized, ensuring that the 3D mapping is always up to date. This approach is particularly beneficial in constantly changing environments like construction sites or developing urban areas.

How does b<>com Overview's compatibility with a wide range of augmented reality devices represent a business advantage? 

Jérôme: The compatibility of b<>com *Overview* with a wide range of augmented reality devices, such as iOS, Android, Hololens 2, Lynx, and many others, offers great flexibility to businesses and developers. This means they can choose the devices that best suit the intended task while benefiting from the advanced features of our solution without needing to manage multiple 3D maps for different types of augmented reality devices used. This approach promotes interoperability and allows users to fully leverage their investments by avoiding dependence on specific augmented reality hardware.

Can you tell us where this solution has already been deployed?

Jérôme: The solution has been tested as part of a European project for Industry and Construction 4.0, ARTwin, in partnership with Siemens, Eiffage, and Artefacto. In this context, b<>com *Overview* was deployed in Siemens factories in Germany to test applications for factory guidance, maintenance assistance, and assembly line planning. The solution was also deployed on an Eiffage construction site in Rennes to experiment with an augmented reality compliance control application. More recently, we tested our solution at the Saint-Hélier Center, a rehabilitation center located in Rennes. The goal was to help patients reach a space within the center using augmented reality guidance.                                                                                        

Catherine: We are already in discussions with numerous industry players, and 2024 will be the year we commercialize b<>com *Overview* to industrial companies and integrators because the solution is now mature, and market needs are evident.

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