SensAR project: How SMEs use augmented reality

Second webinar of the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Industry and Commerce with HFT researchers on the areas of data security, localization and sensor technology

What potential does augmented reality have for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)? How can associated techniques be used? The second HFT Stuttgart webinar on the "SensAR" project, held with the Stuttgart Region Chamber of Industry and Commerce, covered the topics of sensors, data security and localization. A team of three professors and staff each explained the current status of the developed tools.

Professor Dr. Dieter Uckelmann, information logistics specialist at HFT Stuttgart, began by explaining the idea behind the SensAR project: the abbreviation stands for "mediation of location- and context-related sensory data using augmented reality." "Small and medium-sized companies should thus be given easier access to the technology field of augmented reality," he emphasized. The approach focuses on generalizable processes that occur in many companies. The goal is to relieve employees in companies through automated recording and digitized assistance systems.

Challenge: Uniting systems

The technology market has developed strongly, especially in the areas of wireless sensors, communication technologies and sensor networks, and this trend can also be observed in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0. "However, a holistic approach that combines research areas such as dynamic object recognition, location, sensor technology and standards, user interface (user interface) as well as data protection and data security is missing so far," the HFT professor explained.

Most participants mainly learned about the possibilities of augmented reality. There was hardly any experience with research applications or cooperation with universities.

Creating data security for sensitive sensor data

Prof. Jan Seedorf and Max Pengrin kicked off with their IT security expertise. They explained the advantages and disadvantages of encrypting data directly at the sensor (data source) using "Attribute-Based Encryption (ABE)." "Encrypting data directly at the sensor can increase security and transmission speed while saving energy costs," Seedorf said.

Here, access rights are built into the encryption, defining who can read the data. This approach can also be varied spontaneously; new users and restrictions can be easily created. With classic RSA encryption, the data is encrypted during transmission. But because they are unencrypted at the data source or recipient, they are not very secure, the researchers emphasized. Other advantages of ABE encryption include a significantly higher speed of data transmission and savings in electricity costs.

Compass, maps, lighthouses and pedometers instead of knots – basically we work like the old sailors, only more modern.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Knauth

Locating people or objects in buildings

As a second topic, Prof Stefan Knauth from the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Geosciences presented application examples on localization and tracking in buildings with a smartphone. "Compass, maps, lighthouses and pedometers instead of knots – basically we work like the old navigators, only more modern!" he opined.

Indoor positioning with a smartphone can use different sensors on the smartphone, but ultrasound and RF ultra-wideband have been less suitable so far, he said.

In the project, Knauth and his coworker Sabo Sini are concentrating on Bluetooth because this technology is more precise than, for example, positioning via WLAN and no data has to flow to Google. Bluetooth positioning via "beacons" (transmitters and receivers) can also be used to cover typical industrial environments. Here there are greater challenges due to steel girders, machines and frequent conversions – more so than in other environments. Good results can be achieved in combination with stored room plans and crowdsourcing data for automatic calibration.

Harmonizing the flood of data in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Finally, Prof. Dieter Uckelmann with Marc-Philipp Jensen provided information on the major topic of sensory needs. In the existing data flood in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), an enormous amount of data is available. Mostly, however, they are not processed for the user or as a use case, the HFT researchers emphasized. Data here is given additional spatial and other attributes so that it can be contextually filtered for different users and questions.  "We address the sensory need by harmonizing IIoT data flows to bring information together in a uniform way in the context of different users," explained Uckelmann, an information logistics expert. This involves taking into account industrial standards and unifying them into a single syntax and semantics.

In SensAR, a dynamic Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) approach was chosen with broker and a virtual bridge functionality. This also enables data to be dynamized and structured and also takes bandwidth management into account. The goal is contextual visualization of the data in augmented reality applications, which was explained using the RFID measurement chamber at HFT as an example.

Following the three contributions, the participants* had a lively discussion about the topic of real-time requirements and already existing, first approaches to have data encrypted directly on chips by manufacturers. The tips and suggestions will be followed up by the project team, and at best new approaches and cooperation will also result.

The SensAR project is funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with 750,000 € in the Transfer program line. The exchange with users and transfer of the results is therefore very important in this project.

Publish date: 20. April 2021 By Anja Ernst ()