Chair for Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality
Lehrstuhl für Informatikanwendungen in der Medizin & Augmented Reality

B. Schwerdtfeger
Pick-by-Vision: Bringing HMD-based Augmented Reality into the Warehouse
Dissertation (PhD thesis), Fakultät für Informatik, Technische Universität München, July 2010 (online version) (bib)

The technology of Augmented Reality exists for several decades and it is attributed the potential to provide an ideal, efficient and intuitive way of presenting information. However it is not yet widely used. This is because the realization of such Augmented Reality systems requires to solve many principal problems from various areas. Much progress has been made in solving problems of core technologies, which enables us now to intensively explore the development of Augmented Reality applications.

As an exemplary industrial use case for this exploration, I selected the order picking process in logistics applications. This thesis reports on the development of an application to support this task, by iteratively improving Augmented Reality-based metaphors. In such order picking tasks, workers collect sets of items from assortments in warehouses according to work orders. This order picking process has been subject to optimization for a long time, as it occurs a million times a day in industrial life.

For this Augmented Reality application development, workers have been equipped with mobile hardware, consisting of a wearable computer (in a back-pack) and tracked head-mounted displays (HMDs). This thesis presents the iterative approach of exploring, evaluating and refining the Augmented Reality system, focusing on usability and utility. It starts in a simple laboratory setup and goes up to a realistic industrial setup in a factory hall. The Augmented Reality visualization shown in the HMD was the main subject of optimization in this thesis. Overall, the task was challenging, as workers have to be guided on different levels, from very coarse to very fine granularity and accuracy. The resulting setup consists of a combined and adaptive visualization to precisely and efficiently guide the user, even if the actual target of the augmentation is not always in the field of view of the HMD.

A side-effect of this iterative evaluation and refinement of visualizations in an industrial setup is the report on many lessons learned and an advice on the way Augmented Reality user interfaces should be improved and refined.

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