Revolutionary seemed to be the theme for this year’s SPAR International, which took place in Houston the first week of April.

Andy Lowery, DAQRI CEO, gave an interesting keynote on technology in the information age. He mentioned his speech wouldn’t focus on his own company specifically, but highlight current innovations and the state of the technology revolution we are living in.  At the start of his presentation, titled “Sensing Change: To the Cloud(s) and Beyond,” he said, “We are on the cusp of something a lot bigger than what DAQRI has to offer.

“Someone told me we’re at the end of the beginning of the information age. I want to talk about how we can invigorate and accelerate some of the technologies and framework.”

He talked about augmented reality, saying it’s the merging of digital and real world. Lowery also compared the crowd in the room to innovators listening to Thomas Edison speak about electricity 100 years ago, saying attendees are revolutionaries in technology. He compared the revolution we’re seeing today to the industrial revolution, saying the birth of augmented reality is like the introduction of electricity for factories.

“Now every factory worker could be a skilled professional that could work with power tools… What it led to was the advent of high school education. Mandatory high school education came about as a result of this new distribution of power.”

The revolution going on today "is distribution of information,” Lowery said. “The parallel is that our factories and facilities currently have a very centralized information system, much as the steam engine operated as a centralized power system. You have a centralized control area…that all the information is networked and fed into. It becomes a hub where decisions are made and then redistributed to people out in the field.”

Augmented reality allows facilities to “skip the control room and distribute the information, and even distribute the ability to control the machines, or make decisions in a more distributed way,” he said.

“So what we’re talking about on a universal level is the internet of things,” Lowery said. “The internet of things is an often overused word that people apply to everything that’s coming out nowadays but in reference to what we’re talking about this week, we’re talking about the application of the internet of things to be industrial framework.

“There’s a lot of different things people call this, but we can boil it down to three easy words: the connectivity between machines, data and people.”

Lowery used a study by Iowa State and Boeing as an example to describe how augmented reality is changing how people work. In the study, groups of 50 students constructed an aircraft wing. One group had the information on a computer. Another had tablets with instructions on using augmented reality to build the wing. None of the students had used augmented reality before. “Those are 3D models that already exist for the wing,” Lowery said. “The models would actually animate and say, okay, here’s the next step.”

The first group was done in about 45 minutes. The augmented reality group performed the work about 30% faster. “But the absolutely remarkable statistic, the one that we should be focused on right now, is the virtual elimination of human error,” Lowery said. The average number of errors was seven for those using the computer versus one half an error for the students using augmented reality.

“The second time they built that aircraft wing not a single student made a single error,” Lowery said. Now that’s a strong case for augmented reality.