Testia is a developer of technology for use by its parent company, Airbus group. The company was showing an augmented reality application using a Panasonic Toughbook and a projector to assist with aircraft manufacturing. There are around 10,000 individual components that have to be put together in an airframe and errors or omissions can be very expensive to rectify, so the firm has developed a system (initially in 2011 for inspection only) whereby locations for operations and the type of operation (such as gluing or drilling) can be indicated by a projection system. Targets are fitted to the part of the airframe where the operations are to be performed and multiple cameras attached to the projector then transform the image and superimpose it on the aircraft.
The tablet is used in conjunction to check and record operations (and Testia told us that the system makes hand over between different workers in shifts much less error prone and fast). Typical accuracy is around +- 1mm at best, which is often good enough to allow many fixings to be quickly and accurately applied. Because the company has access to the 3D database of the design, great accuracy and consistency can be achieved. The company told us that although it had experimented with A/R glasses, it found that operators were only prepared to use them for a limited time, and that they were more comfortable with projection. A 5,000 Ansi lumen projector was being used as aircraft factories are typically well lit and the system may even have to be used in quite bright ambient conditions. The firm is looking to develop and license the technology outside Airbus now that it has been developed.