‘We strive to leverage the benefits of AR, VR and IoT’
Vijay Karunakaran, Founder & CEO, TNQ InGage, responded to a few questions from Industrial Automation. Excerpts from the interaction.
As an emerging technology, AR/VR/MR is evolving. Where does TNQ InGage figure in this evolution?
Founded in 2012, we were among the pioneers of AR/VR in India, and have extended Immersive services to a plethora of reputed clientele. We strive to leverage the benefits of AR, VR and IoT to make a socially meaningful impact on the way people train, learn, and work across industries.
Since our inception, we have:
- Completed more than 500 projects
- Served more than 250 customers, and
- Created more than 50 million AR/VR experience views.
Over the years, we have developed a sound connection with software and hardware partners, which we believe will provide us with access to resources. With continued focused effort in R&D, we are well poised to spearhead this evolution and make a deep and meaningful impact.
What are the main areas of operation or industry segments catered to by the company? Which are the segments ripe for early adoption?
We mainly cater to the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. The construction and manufacturing sectors are beginning to realise the benefits it could render to their respective spheres, be it in terms of safety training, remote training, enhancement of productivity, cost-efficiency, among a host of other factors. Given these, we will see more companies in these sectors adopting the technology.
Education and training are among the key focus areas. What are the services offered?
Our range of services here include training and Augmented Reality Field Services. We provide Immersive training and simulator solutions to the construction, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors, among others. We strive to achieve high fidelity realistic and interactive virtual environments for training that provides a very close to real for the trainees to practice their skills in a safe environment. We integrate hardware (headsets, haptics), software and content with AI assist multi-user environment for multiple trainees and instructor to collaborate across various locations to achieve immersive training programs.
Researches have been showing learning in VR is effective as in real life, but our VR Trainings have several advantages over real trainings:
- Controlled and absolutely save environment
- Perfectly customisable for training scenarios
- Can be used anywhere at any time
- Gamification scenarios are engaging better learning, and
- You can either be an active part in training situations, or you can remotely guide your staff and clients, e.g., in maintenance scenario.
What are the solutions for the manufacturing and process industries, especially in the areas of preventive maintenance and troubleshooting?
Our immersive solutions are designed to enhance productivity and customer satisfaction while helping engineers redefine the current manufacturing process.
It is in the form of AR/VR Operations Training and AR Field Services. These are proven solutions that not only cater to productivity but also cost-efficiency. For example, a field supervisor need not visit a particular site to analyse and suggest the task to be performed, which leads to easier and faster maintenance. Our solutions drive the convergence of IoT and AR, thereby transforming industrial maintenance and field service by capturing data in real-time and converting the same into recommendations. This facilitates quick and efficient failure-diagnosis.
Repair and Maintenance: Our predefined templates deliver rapid translation of print manuals to digital formats through AR. This technique overlays key information on a display device (tablet/AR glasses) enabling technicians to work hands-free and faster, with each step in a troubleshooting or repair process displayed in their field of view.
Expert Assistance: Manufacturing companies utilise our AR solutions to deliver expert support. AR provides remote experts the ability to see what the technicians see, to give instant feedback. This saves time and travel costs while ensuring the task gets done faster.
Quality Control: Our customised AR solutions guide operators through inspection tasks and perform the actual inspections, identifying where parts are missing or have been incorrectly assembled.
There are several limitations like high cost of hardware and the restricted field of vision, yet predictions made about the humongous potential market. What is your view on this?
Adoption and Costs are inversely proportional; when the adoption rate rises, the price comes down. AR/VR solutions come with many advantages, which include effective training, higher retention and absorption rates, and ease of use, the likes of which will overshadow the few negatives like high cost and restricted field of view. But on the same note, what was a high-cost technology a few years ago is now cheaper, way cheaper than any traditional methods are. In stark contrast to the high-cost myth, it reduces the costs incurred with traditional training (think travel). With respect to the field of view restriction, R&D works are in full swing to nullify this effect.
The AR/VR industry is growing at a startling pace across the globe. While this year concludes with unprecedented growth, thanks to new releases and inventions, and a series of high-profile announcements from the likes of Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, and Youtube, 2020 could be a breakthrough that this industry deserves.
Concerns are also expressed regarding safety and privacy issues related to these technologies. What is the reality?
There are some safety hazards while working on the VR HMDs but they are true for any new technology and is being addressed and making tremendous improvements to make the AR VR ecosystem as safe as possible for everybody. There no AR VR specific privacy concerns but there are issues that apply to all mobile devices.
Please note that VR solves various industrial safety issues by enhancing safety levels, something which no traditional means could offer. Workers can now be trained off the field, perform hazardous tasks that they normally undertake at work, and take risks without fearing any harm, thanks to the immersive nature of this technology. It is a means of providing hands-on training in an environment that is conducive to risks.
What kind of R&D and development is done at TNG InGage? Any breakthrough achievement?
While it may be too early to share more insights on our R&D works, we can talk about our prime focus area. We are looking to bring high-quality human-machine interactive devices that can extend the potential of our AR/VR solutions. We would in the future witness a refined interface between humans and machines.
How do you see the Indian market evolving as more and more companies opt for the digitalisation of their operations?
The Indian market is growing and evolving fast, which makes it ripe for large-scale digital adoption. We are also working towards encouraging various companies to adopt digitisation by partnering with us for the best in class immersive AR/VR solutions.