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Chicago's DMDII issues $12 million in awards for augmented reality, wearable tech, other digital manufacturing projects

By DMDII news release

May 10, 2016

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The Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), a UI LABS collaboration, today announced that it has issued seven national applied research, development, and demonstration awards. These projects address several digital manufacturing and design topics, including augmented reality for use on manufacturing shop floors and on wearable and mobile devices.

“We are excited to continue to advance applied R&D within our core technology focus areas,” said Dr. Dean Bartles, chief manufacturing officer of UI LABS and executive director of DMDII. “With each project call, we bring additional researchers, global industry leaders, and small companies into our consortium and move closer to making technologies related to ‘smart manufacturing’ and ‘brilliant factory’ applicable to manufacturers across the country.”

(For more on the individual projects, visit
See also Plant Services' April cover story, "How context-aware technology will help you see the future.")

The projects involving augmented reality (AR), Manufacturing Work Instructions on Wearable and Mobile Devices with Augmented Reality, led by the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Authoring Augmented Reality Work Instructions by Expert Demonstration, led by Iowa State University, reflect the tremendous potential that AR holds as related technologies transition from consumer applications to the industrial sector.

“Our project will enable the creation of instructions for an augmented reality-based training system that mimic the actual part manipulations of an expert,” said Eliot Winer, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State University. “This project builds upon successful research from our project team, which we anticipate turning into real-world applications for manufacturers through the perspective provided by our industry partners.”

Embedding visual instructions in an individual’s environment through projection, wearable elements, or handheld devices can reduce training time and errors at multiple stages of the manufacturing process. AR also allows companies to redeploy experts to other tasks rather than time-consuming training sessions.

“A critical element to driving manufacturing competitiveness is delivering work instructions to our skilled workforce,” said Craig Sutton, Manager of Advanced Manufacturing at Deere & Company. “Given the amount of complexity that this workforce manages, written instructions remain a challenging medium. A tool like augmented reality will enable us to improve our productivity and quality measures in our operations.”

DMDII’s projects bring together teams with expertise in a variety of manufacturing disciplines and include major multinational corporations, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), government entities, and university researchers. Each project is managed by a lead organization that coordinates work among other organizations on the team. For example, Iowa State University is spearheading a project that includes Purdue University, John Deere, Boeing, Daqri, and Design Mill. Facilitating connections among its diverse consortium to create unique solutions is an important aspect of the UI LABS process.