ETSI unveils augmented reality framework

Industry specification group on augmented reality develops new specification to enable multi-supplier ecosystem for industry and consumers

The ETSI industry specification group on the augmented reality (AR) framework (ISG ARF) has unveiled a key specification towards the interoperability of AR components.

The technology association says that, at present, industrial and end-users tend to depend on a single provider to deploy AR applications and services. ETSI believes compliance with its framework will allow components from different providers to interoperate via the defined interfaces, allowing broader and quicker adoption of AR technology.

The new ETSI GS ARF 003 specification is designed to introduce the characteristics of an AR system and describes the functional building blocks of a generic AR reference architecture and their mutual relationships. The global architecture has been constructed to give an overview of an AR system that is based on a set of hardware and software components as well as data describing the real world and virtual content.

The functional architecture applies to both fully embedded AR systems and implementations spread over IP networks in a scalable manner with subfunctions. These subfunctions can either be deployed on the AR device or be provided via cloud technology.

“In the context of the work undertaken by the group, augmented reality is the ability to mix in real time spatially registered digital content into the real world, thus augmenting the user’s reality with accurate contextual information,” said Muriel Deschanel, chair of the ETSI ISG ARF.

“AR can be a real asset for many use cases in Industry 4.0 or in the medical sector. With the significant improvement to network performance brought by 5G, in particular in terms of bandwidth and latency, cloud services will become essential to a larger number of AR use cases.”

Looking at Industry 4.0, ESTI noted that one of the potential applications of AR reality could be to help face the unexpected peak of activity of a factory, in case of confinement or staff shortage.

It saw a scenario in which a manufacturing plant needed to significantly increase its production, and the operation director hires temporary workers or shift operators from another line. These employees may not have the expertise and/or the time to learn the job, so AR could enable an experienced operator located in another area to train, guide and give precise instructions to the new staff while limiting physical contacts.

It is inevitable that 5G will remain a key enabler in the development of AR across industries. In November 2019, Snapchat creator Snap announced a partnership with US communications giant Verizon to use its 5G Ultra Wideband technology to support Snap’s visual communications and content experiences, including AR.

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