Effectiveness of augmented reality for human performance in assembly

Augmented Reality (AR) has evolved recently and has emerged as one of the most promising technologies for assisting human operators with assembly, which is highly in demand in today’s manufacturing environments. However, there is still a lack of empirical studies investigating the effectiveness of AR for human performance in assembly tasks. An empirical study with 20 participants was conducted to counter this lack by comparing the use of printed instructions to the use of AR as instructional medium. Three models of a fischertechnik kit were assembled using the same instructional medium for each assembly. Times of assembly, error rates, cognitive load and usability aspects were measured to compare both media. Even though time of task completion could not be significantly improved under the use of AR, especially reading the instructions and finding required storage boxes benefited from using AR. Moreover, error rates for multiple types of error were significantly decreased using AR instructions. Major limitations in this application for AR-aided human assembly arose from a lack of alignment between virtual and physical objects, along with the limited field of view. Transferring similar applications to the industrial environment can be considered in the near future.