Could "augmented reality" play a meaningful role in logistics? Or is it just a gimmick or techno-fad?
The results of a pilot project conducted in the Netherlands suggest that the concept of augmented reality—defined by Merriam-Webster as an enhanced view of reality created by overlaying digital information on an image of an object being viewed through a device—may indeed prove useful, at least in a warehouse setting. The third-party logistics arm of DHL, together with its customer Ricoh and Ubimax GmbH, a developer of wearable computing solutions, tested smart glasses and augmented reality to implement "vision picking" in warehousing operations.
For three weeks, 10 order pickers wore head-mounted displays such as Google Glass and VuzixM100, DHL says. Graphics displayed on the smart glass showed task-related information, including aisle, product location, and quantity. Workers who used the equipment picked more than 20,000 items and fulfilled some 9,000 orders. As for their performance, DHL reports that they were 25-percent more efficient than other order pickers and completed their tasks with no errors. DHL and Ricoh say they are evaluating whether to formally roll out an augmented reality solution.
In a June 2014 report called "Augmented Reality in Logistics", DHL's Trend Research team said that in addition to vision picking in warehousing operations, the technology could prove useful in transportation, last-mile delivery, and value-added services.