Internet of Things software provider PTC is in the final stages of its acquisition of Vuforia, the formerly Qualcomm-owned augmented reality platform. PTC President and CEO Jim Heppelmann led a webinar on Oct. 19 showing off what they want to do with the platform.
Heppelmann’s tagline was that the union of the two companies – a $65 million deal – is “bridging the digital and physical worlds.”
Digital models are used to create products, but PTC wants to go beyond that. Equipping a product with sensors allows it to connect to the Internet of Things, but looping back around into the digital world – linking those sensors to the digital model in order to replicate the real object’s motions – can unlock something else. An app created by PTC for Vuforia overlays those sensor readings on the physical object.
Not only does it allow for a real-time look at the stats of the object, it can also be used to create animated tutorials to look inside the object. In the demonstration during the livestream, Heppelmann showed a graphic that explained to the user how to put a hydraulic pump together. The app overlaid the object with its digital “twin,” showing the user exactly where pieces were supposed to go. This use case might be best suited to a service engineer or DIYer, but PTC plans to integrate Vuforia into many aspects of their IoT technology.
“What’s happening here is that the IoT is actually jamming these two worlds together into a new world, a new reality, that is a mixture of digital and physical combined together almost all the time,” Heppelmann said.
PTC’s new augmented reality technology platform includes abilities that they acquired through companies like ThingWorx and Axeda, as well as Coldlight and Vuforia. Its creative palette allows developers to overlay virtual buttons, video playback, background effects, and more over the real world.
Vuforia has a thriving developer community, with over 20,000 apps created using its “freemium” app-building software. PTC wants to continue to foster that ecosystem, and will keep Vuforia’s model intact. Jay Wright, VP of Vuforia under Qualcomm, will head Vuforia’s work within PTC.
Heppelmann said that he sees analytics and data as essential to electronics and IoT going forward. Being able to see data from real-world machinery as it moves has applications for both engineering and enterprise use cases, and if it works as smoothly as it did in the demonstration, both will look like something from the future.
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping