Emerson Automation Steps Up Digital Transformation Game

Emerson Automation Steps Up Digital Transformation Game

Everyone touts Digital Transformation lately. Emerson Automation has been patiently building a Digital Transformation practice through acquisition and development. Executives announced advances at this year’s edition of Emerson Global Users Exchange—my second stop of the Fall Conference Tour. I see Emerson pulling away from many of its automation peers becoming part of a select group of suppliers putting it all together (the others being Siemens, ABB, and Schneider Electric / AVEVA).

I’m going to run through some of the more significant announcements from the press conferences so far this week.

New Digital Transformation Organization

Emerson has established a dedicated organization focused on digital transformation technologies and programs. The Digital Transformation business brings together resources to help manufacturers develop and implement pragmatic digital transformation strategies that deliver industry-leading, or Top Quartile, performance. The $650+ million business combines existing expertise in consulting, project execution, smart sensor technologies, data management and analytics – all part of Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem. The organization will help customers not only establish a clear vision for digital transformation, but also execute and realize measurable results at each step of their journey.

“In a space inundated by confusing promises, Emerson helps customers define and execute a practical and successful path to digital transformation,” said Lal Karsanbhai, executive president of Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “With our new Digital Transformation business, we are strategically focused on guiding customers to the right strategy, helping them drive improved organizational alignment, and implementing programs that accelerate improved business performance.”

“The industry is at a critical point in the digital transformation journey,” said Stuart Harris, group president for Emerson’s new Digital Transformation business. “Many companies have a vision but struggle to implement practical solutions that deliver results and therefore they are getting frustrated. Other companies are solving specific problems, but not realizing value at scale across the enterprise. Emerson has the technology to provide practical solutions, and the experience to define the best practices and roadmap to help make a broad operational impact.”

Existing and new Emerson resources comprising the business include:

  • Operational Certainty Consulting: facility and enterprise-level roadmap strategies and implementation to improve reliability, safety, production and energy utilization metrics
  • Operational Analytics: the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of predictive diagnostics and advanced analytics, providing insights on health and performance of operational assets
  • Industry Solutions: deep, industry-specific expertise on solutions to drive key performance indicators
  • Pervasive Sensing: the industry’s largest portfolio of smart, easy-to-deploy, connected devices, including wireless instruments
  • Project Management: best practices, tools and resources to  implement a digital transformation project with confidence

Comprehensive Operational Analytics Portfolio

Emerson’s portfolio of operational analytics focuses on the greatest source of value for industrial manufacturers – the production itself. Operational analytics with embedded domain knowledge can impact and improve performance of simple equipment, complex assets and process units, and entire production plants.

“We recommend addressing the high impact, known problems first,” Zornio said. “By using proven models that make analytics accessible to the personnel responsible for the performance of assets, our customers can act quickly to solve problems faster. For example, Emerson’s solutions can detect and address 80% of the equipment failure modes contributing to production loss in a plant in real-time.”

Additionally, Emerson’s enhanced portfolio includes machine learning and artificial intelligence that can be used to identify new discoveries and deepen insight to impact business performance. These tools provide perspective previously unattainable with traditional analytics.

“With our acquisition of KNet and its integration into our Plantweb Optics asset performance platform, Emerson can provide not only some of the most advanced machine learning and AI tools in the industry, but also the connection to people and workflows, which are critical to digital transformation success,” Zornio said.

Emerson’s portfolio now provides both pre-packaged analytics solutions as well as a complete analytics toolbox for users to develop their own applications. This portfolio is supported by Emerson’s Operational Certainty consulting practice and robust data management capabilities that provide a foundation for analytics success.

AMS Asset Monitor increases visibility and adds predictive analytics

AMS Asset Monitor edge analytics device digitalizes essential asset data and analytics for better operations performance and improved decision making. AMS Asset Monitor provides actionable insights into essential
assets that were previously monitored only with infrequent assessments. The new edge analytics device will connect with Emerson’s Plantweb Optics asset performance platform to provide key operations personnel with instant asset health details for operations and maintenance decision making.

Plants typically monitor the condition of essential assets such as pumps, fans, and heat exchangers only every 30 to 60 days. The longer the gap, the more likely that a defect goes undetected and results in an unexpected failure with significant impact on production, product quality, and plant efficiency. The new AMS Asset Monitor combines easy deployment, embedded logic-based analytics, and intuitive health scoring to make it easier for organizations to monitor and maintain essential assets. For instance, AMS Asset Monitor’s analytics and visualization can help plant personnel effectively plan maintenance during scheduled shutdowns and turnarounds and reduce or eliminate unplanned downtime.

Unlike typical analytics devices that send data to a historian or the cloud to be processed later, AMS Asset Monitor provides analytics at the edge, performing calculations at the device. This device-centered analytics capability reduces the time, complication, and expense of adding analytics to a plant’s assets. Each device collects data continuously and uses embedded logic to identify and diagnose common reliability issues. Individual issues such as imbalance, misalignment, bearing faults, lubrication issues, or fouling are consolidated into an overall asset health score. AMS Asset Monitor then communicates these health scores via a web browser or—when integrated with Plantweb Optics—through real-time persona-based alerts on mobile devices. Plantweb Optics also enables enterprise-wide visibility and expands edge analytics and digital intelligence throughout the organization, keeping personnel aware of essential asset health.

“Plants are always looking for more ways to improve profitability by increasing productivity. Just a percentage point or two in availability can equal millions of dollars per year or more,” said John Turner product manager for online prediction, Emerson. “The AMS Asset Monitor enables personnel across the plant to see the current health of essential assets along with suggested actions to improve asset health. This allows them to make informed decisions to maintain reliability, increase uptime and maximize productivity.”

The AMS Asset Monitor’s small footprint along with wired or wireless Ethernet connectivity make it simple to install. The edge device can support new applications by simply adding new logic-based analytics.

Industrial Wireless Network Solution

Emerson is partnering with Cisco to introduce a next-generation industrial wireless networking solution. The new Emerson Wireless 1410S Gateway with the Cisco Catalyst IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Point combines the latest in wireless technology with advanced WirelessHART sensor technology, delivering reliable and highly secure data, even in the harshest industrial environments.

“A secure connection that scales easily is the foundation for every successful IoT deployment.” said Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager, IoT at Cisco. “By using the power of the intent-based network, Cisco provides a secure, automated, rock solid infrastructure helping IT and operational teams work together to reduce complexity and improve safety.”

This next-gen wireless access point provides enhanced wi-fi bandwidth necessary for real-time safety monitoring, including Emerson’s Location Awareness and wireless video. These applications enhance personnel safety practices, improve plant security and help ensure environmental compliance. A reliable and fast connection between devices and people streamlines decision making by providing real-time analytics. It also enables a mobile workforce to virtually come together, collaborate and resolve critical issues in a timely manner.

“Products installed in industrial plants need to last for years, even decades,” said Bob Karschnia, vice president of wireless at Emerson. “This kind of longevity was a critical design and engineering requirement to ensure this new wireless access point was future-proofed to meet a rapidly evolving technology landscape.”

Personalized Digital Experience

​​​​Emerson‘s new personalized digital experience – MyEmerson–connects people and technology through streamlined work processes and better collaboration. With a MyEmerson online account, users can access digital tools to quickly engineer solutions, manage software and installed assets, access training, collaborate with experts, streamline procurement processes, and improve visibility into buying history and trends.

“Driven by our personal interaction with digital technology, customers have new expectations today about speed and access to information,” said Brad Budde, vice president of digital customer experience, Emerson
Automation Solutions. “Our customers still want access to human expertise, but now expect a great digital experience as well. Combining these two experiences to deliver information immediately and use it to solve problems faster is what drives new business value.”

Digital engineering tools help engineers collaborate, gain confidence in an evolving industry, and streamline time-consuming manual processes. With online sizing, selection, and configuration tools for measurement instrumentation, valves, actuators, fluid control, pneumatic and electrical solutions, engineers can confidently and accurately specify solutions for their unique requirements and process conditions. By employing
digital tools, engineers can configure instrumentation up to 93% faster, typically saving over 100 engineering hours annually.

For procurement professionals, MyEmerson includes access to online purchasing and supplier management resources. Once solutions are selected and configured by engineering counterparts, the information moves seamlessly to the procurement team – eliminating the need for manual handoffs and duplicate entry of model codes. Procurement personnel can then create requisition lists, generate quotes and automatically populate purchase orders. With greater visibility to order status and order history, procurement teams have access to the information they need to drive more efficient processes.

The MyEmerson development roadmap will centralize the management of software, hardware and workforce upskilling. With easier access to technical documentation, easier identification of device location, and the ability to initiate repair, replacement or service as needed, organizations gain maintenance and turnaround planning efficiencies. By moving from manual management of disparate software applications, updates and
licenses, users will be able to actively operate and maintain their software portfolio through a single-entry point. Both hardware and software records will be tightly integrated to relevant training, enabling trackable and accessible information in the same experience.

Emerson’s Renewed Plantweb Leverages Industrial Internet of Things

Emerson’s Renewed Plantweb Leverages Industrial Internet of Things

Emerson Automation (formerly Emerson Process Management) is the latest automation company to thoroughly exploit the Industrial Internet of Things as it unveiled its digital strategy and reinvigorated Plantweb architecture at Global Users Exchange 2016.

Microsoft continues its deep penetration into industrial and manufacturing automation markets with a renewed commitment from Emerson. The companies announced at Exchange the Plantweb digital ecosystem and Connected Services are powered by Microsoft Azure IoT Suite.

Emerson is also broadly adopting Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT technology both in its DeltaV and Ovation control systems and in data gateways.

First introduced as the industry’s most advanced process control and safety network, Plantweb now harnesses the power of Industrial IoT to expand digital intelligence to the entire manufacturing enterprise, while also providing an architecture for on-premise applications. Plantweb provides a comprehensive framework to help manufacturers achieve Top Quartile performance in the areas of safety, reliability, production and energy. Top Quartile is defined as achieving operations and capital performance in the top 25 percent of peer companies.

“In 1997, Emerson revolutionized the automation landscape with Plantweb, the first field-based digital plant architecture,” said Peter Zornio, chief strategic officer, Emerson Automation Solutions. “Now, we are doing it again by harnessing the power of Industrial IoT to give customers the technology foundation for Operational Certainty.”

plantweb-2016

The pieces comprising Plantweb (see diagram) include (from the bottom of the stack): Pervasive Sensing; Secure First Mile; Insight; Advisor; Always Mobile; and, Connected Services. I’ll discuss a little of each of these below. Many are build outs of existing products and technologies, some are new products or services.

Pervasive Sensing

Emerson’s Pervasive Sensing Strategies expand the use of sensor and analytics technology into new operational performance areas through a new generation of low-cost sensors that are easy to install and maintain, take advantage of wireless communications as part of a secure, integrated industrial network and use new analytic algorithms to create insights into the performance of a plant’s assets.

Emerson’s expanding portfolio of pervasive sensing technologies includes capabilities in the areas of hazardous gas sensing, wireless corrosion monitoring, wireless medium voltage equipment monitoring, wireless gas monitoring, wireless non-intrusive surface-sensing temperature measurement, wireless power metering and pressure gauge measurement.

Wireless corrosion monitoring

Emerson’s Permasense Wireless Corrosion Monitoring is a permanently-installed technology that uses unique sensor technology, wireless data delivery and advanced analytics to continuously monitor for metal loss from corrosion or erosion in pipes, pipelines or vessels.

Designed to operate without maintenance for years, this monitoring technology reliably delivers high-integrity data even in the harshest environments, providing ongoing visibility of corrosion and erosion trends in real-time and direct to the engineer.

Wireless medium voltage equipment monitoring

Emerson’s IntelliSAW wireless medium voltage equipment monitoring systems offer real-time, continuous monitoring of electric power switchgear temperatures and smart grid monitoring, providing accurate temperature data for key points in a power transmission network.

Wireless gas monitoring

Emerson’s Rosemount 928 Wireless Gas Monitor is the world’s first integrated WirelessHART toxic gas detection solution. Maintaining remote sites like wellheads and natural gas metering stations is difficult and dangerous because workers approaching these sites may be exposed to unplanned releases of toxic gas. Due to the prohibitive costs to install and operate conventional gas detection systems at these sites, operators have been forced to rely on portable gas detection devices or, even worse, carry on with no gas detection at all. In all these cases, workers may run the risk of exposure when approaching these remote sites to perform maintenance.

Wireless non-intrusive surface-sensing temperature measurement

Emerson’s Rosemount X-well Technology is a surface-sensing temperature measurement solution that eliminates the need for thermowell process penetration when measuring process temperatures in pipe applications and removes leak points to reduce compliance costs and increase safety. X-well technology eliminates the need to drill device connections to get process temperatures, allowing users to avoid the risk of corrosion.

Wireless power metering

The Emerson SensEnable 56WM wireless power meter is designed to monitor voltage, current, power, energy, and other electrical parameters on single and three phase electrical systems with revenue-grade accuracy. The power meter delivers early detection of machine problems through continuous measurement of power consumption and power quality of submeters.  Submeters are physical metering devices that monitor electricity, gas, water, steam, and other utilities.

Pressure gauge measurement

Emerson’s Rosemount Wireless Pressure Gauge delivers safer and more reliable readings, enabling remote collection of field data as frequently as once per minute. Accurate, wireless readings keep operators updated on changing field conditions remotely – reducing manual operator rounds and improving safety by keeping personnel out of hazardous areas and safeguarding against catastrophic events.

Secure First Mile

Emerson’s Secure First Mile is a set of architectural approaches and designs, enabled by a family of security services and robust, secure and flexible servers, gateways, and data diodes that ensures that data in existing OT systems can be easily and securely connected to internet based applications.

Using Secure First Mile architectures, a plant can transform its operational technology data into information technology data while ensuring outbound paths of information do not become inbound paths that expose its systems to harm.

As part of its Secure First Mile architectures, Emerson is using OPC Unified Architecture (UA) servers to export data from application databases. OPC UA is an industrial machine-to-machine communication protocol that can be directly consumed by Microsoft Azure, Emerson’s chosen platform for cloud computing. Microsoft Azure enables the building, deployment and management of applications and services through a global network of Microsoft-managed data centers. Its integrated cloud services include analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web applications.

To connect its field data aggregation products such as wireless sensor gateways, CHARM I/O cards, Ethernet I/O cards and RTUs, Emerson is using Windows10 IoT edge gateways. These gateways enable data to securely reach the Microsoft Azure cloud by translating operational technology protocols such as FOUNDATION fieldbus (FF) and HART to information technology protocols such as Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) & MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT). These gateways provide a high degree of security through data encryption and key management. In addition, as described, data diodes installed within the system act as physical barriers to incoming information, preventing outside access to a plant’s systems.

Insight

Emerson’s Plantweb Insight applications, which leverage Emerson’s Pervasive Sensing strategies, help users instantly make sense of plant data to drive overall enterprise profitability. It’s a single, lightweight, easy-to-install web-based platform that automatically and strategically interprets plant data through a scalable suite of applications.

Plantweb Insight features a user-friendly, intuitive interface capable of running on any device with access to a web browser (desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones).  Pre-built analytics require minimal configuration, and its flexible software is operating system-independent, easily installing and integrating with existing infrastructures.

The power of Plantweb Insight resides in its collection of easy-to-deploy applications, each containing the embedded domain expertise and analytics that enable existing resources to immediately identify and resolve asset issues that historically were addressed by periodic, manual rounds or unexpected failures. These applications are designed to help users realize the most from Pervasive Sensing strategies at their sites.

More than a dozen total applications are scheduled for release, with each dedicated to a single, specific asset class. The first three applications are available now and future applications will be released at a rate of two per quarter.

Plantweb Insight is currently available with applications for steam trap monitoring, pump monitoring and pressure gauge monitoring.

Advisor

Emerson’s Plantweb Advisor Suite is a scalable set of software products offering two new applications, Health Advisor and Performance Advisor, in addition to the previously released Energy Advisor – all of which leverage the industry-standard OSIsoft Pi System’s highly scalable open data infrastructure that captures and shapes data generated by equipment.

“Together, Emerson and OSIsoft are creating a foundation for digital transformation,” said Martin Otterson, senior vice president of sales, marketing and partners at OSIsoft. “Through the combination of Plantweb Advisor Suite and the PI System, organizations will be able to rapidly achieve deep insights into their operations that in turn will help them boost productivity or develop new services.”These complementary applications are designed to boost operational performance by empowering a plant’s reliability, process and energy experts with critical information about equipment health and efficiency as well as energy consumption and emissions.

Using the Plantweb Advisor Suite, a plant’s essential assets are continuously monitored for potential problems with Health Advisor, operating efficiency of a plant’s equipment is tracked through Performance Advisor, and Energy Advisor maps and manages a plant’s energy consumption in real time.

Always Mobile

Always Mobile solutions deliver secure, instant access to critical information in intuitive views that prepare personnel at all levels to more effectively make business-critical decisions and operate their facilities.

AMS Asset View

AMS Asset View software is a dashboard and messaging application used to present asset health information on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. An application connecting into the AMS ARES Platform, AMS Asset View’s persona-based views ensure that reliability personnel know the health of their assets in relevant time and always see the alerts they need to see, and only the alerts they need to see, so they can focus on asset conditions critical to production.

AMS Asset View focuses on delivering asset health status and alerts in relevant time, using a push alert mechanism to provide notifications that are pertinent to a user’s responsibilities and the criticality of an individual asset.

DeltaV Mobile

The new DeltaV Mobile application allows process engineers, operators, and plant managers to quickly and easily view personalized watch lists and receive real-time alarm notifications.

Collaborative features enable users to more efficiently diagnose and troubleshoot abnormal process situations—whether they are on site or in a remote location.

Guardian Mobile

Emerson announces Guardian Mobile, a mobile application delivering visibility of critical data for control, asset, machinery, and device monitoring systems. An element of Emerson’s Always Mobile, Guardian Mobile enables users to access their system health score for all associated systems from anywhere.

AMS Trex Device Communicator

The AMS Trex Device Communicator is a handheld communicator for advanced diagnostics, configuration, and troubleshooting in the field, designed to improve the efficiency of the many tasks performed by maintenance technicians.

The Trex communicator supports additional mobile applications, such as ValveLink Mobile, which allows technicians to configure and test valves inline, minimizing the impact on production.

Connected Services

Emerson Connected Services are bridging that gap by harnessing the Industrial IoT to help its customers maximize the health, reliability and performance of plant assets and processes through proactive, predictive analysis that delivers actionable data. A key component of Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem, the service offers remote, continuous assessment of a plant’s equipment and processes by Emerson experts to empower customers with the information needed to improve efficiency and avoid unplanned downtime. Emerson Connected Services utilize Microsoft Azure cloud services and data analytic tools that provide a scalable and secure cloud application environment.

Emerson Connected Services offer support across four main subscription-based service offerings in which experts analyze data from critical equipment to provide actionable insights so customers can align their maintenance and operational responses with their business strategies. These offerings currently include Control Valve Connected Services, Steam Trap Connected Services, DeltaV System Health Connected Services, and Machinery Connected Services.

These new services are an integrated part of Emerson’s Lifecycle Services offerings, enabling Emerson to provide customers with more effective and efficient access to its experts. Rather than physically sending experts to inspect and analyze data from critical equipment on a customer’s site, Emerson is able to bring the data to the experts, wherever they are located, with secure connectivity and cloud services. For the most part, users are leveraging the existing infrastructure in their facility making it easy to start small and focused, and grow the service to deliver more business results.

Unleashing The Power of the Industrial Plant Operator

Unleashing The Power of the Industrial Plant Operator

Plant operators have been isolated in remote control rooms for decades. They tend to lose intimate knowledge of their processes as they monitor computer screens in these isolated rooms. The sounds and smells are gone. Everything is theoretical.

This system has worked. But, is it the best, most efficient, most effective use of human intelligence?

Not likely. Technologies and work processes are joining to allow plant managers to change all this.

Tim Sowell, VP and Fellow at Schneider Electric, recently shared some more of his prescient thoughts on this issue–spurred as usual by conversations with customers.

He asks, “What is the reason why users have been locked to the desk/ control room, why has this transition not happened successfully before? It is simple, the requirement to be monitoring the plant. A traditional control room is the central place alarms, notifications were traditionally piped.”

Diving into what it takes to change, Sowell goes on to say, “The user needs to empowered with situational plant awareness, freed from monitoring, shifting to the experience of exception based notification. As the user roams the plant, the user is still responsible, and aware, and able to make decisions across the plant he is responsible for even if he not in view of that a particular piece of equipment. Driving the requirement for the mobile device the user carries to allow notification, drill thru access to information and ability to collaborate so the dependency to sit in the control room has lifted.”

Two streams join to form a river. Sowell continues, “The second key part of the transformation/ enablement of an edge worker is that their work, tasks and associated materials can transfer with them. As the world moves to planned work, a user may start work task on a PC in the control room, but now move out to execute close action. As the user goes through the different steps, the associated material and actions are at his finders tips. The operational work can be generated , assigned and re directed from all terminal.s and devices.”

The first generation of this thinking formed around the rapid development of mobile devices. Before plant managers and engineers could come to grips with one technology, the next popped up. Instead of careful and prolonged development by industrial technology providers, these devices came directly from consumers. Operators and maintenance techs and engineers brought them from home. Smart phones–the power of a computer tucked into their pockets.

Sowell acknowledges it takes more than a handheld computer. “It requires the transformation to task based integrated operational environment where the ‘edge worker’ is free to move.”

The information must free them to navigate with freedom, no matter the format, no matter where they start an activity, and have access to everything.

A New Internet of Things Operating System

What’s this? A new Internet of Things operating system in the making? I’ve been on a 3-day holiday this week. But I’m still reading my news feed. Then two articles popped up on Computerworld about Google’s new operating system Fuchsia (built on Magenta, those colorful Google developers!).

Here is an article by Sharon Gaudin. “Analysts see it as independent of Android and Chrome, set on different market.”

With Google apparently working to develop a new operating system, speculation is centered on whether the company is looking to play a big role in running the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The important thing is that this could be Google’s bid to supply the OS that runs Internet of Things-type systems,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with OrionX, a technology analyst firm. “This could be an OS to run on sensors that, for example, check on fertilizer levels in farmers’ fields or voice recognition features for fitness products. The array of possibilities in these devices is endless and they all need some sort of operating system.”

Speculation about what Google is up to arose late last week and focused on whether the company is looking to either add to its OS family of Android and Chrome or to begin to replace them.

According to a report from Android Police, which spotted Google’s extremely cryptic and basic description of Fuchsia on the project’s GitHub page the new operating system’s kernel, called Magenta, is designed to be used on everything from tiny embedded devices to laptops.

And another article from Nick Mediati. “Nobody quite knows what it’s for (yet), but according to Android Police, Fuchsia can run on just about any kind of device.”

For years, Google has developed two operating systems side-by-side in Android for mobile devices and Chrome OS for laptops and desktops. But it looks as though Google now has a third operating system project underway known as Fuchsia.

Although Google isn’t revealing much, Android Police dug into the documentation for the project on GitHub and discovered more details about the OS. The biggest takeaway, Android Police notes, is that Fuchsia’s kernel, known as Magenta, is designed to work across a wide range of devices—from small “embedded devices” all the way up to desktops and laptops.

In addition, Fuchsia makes use of Google’s Dart programming language, as well as the company’s Material Design-friendly Flutter user interface framework.

Here is the GitHub link and another Google link.

Or Engadget, Google’s Fuchsia operating system runs on virtually anything.

Android Police, Google is developing an OS called “Fuchsia,” runs on All the Things

There are many more. Wonder what’s up? What do you think? Will we use it?

Augmented Reality Helps Sell Cars–Updated Information

Augmented Reality Helps Sell Cars–Updated Information

Accenture Augmented Reality application

[This article is updated as of 10/30/19. I received information that noted Google’s Tango has been shelved, but that there is still work being done on the platform. Thank you to Luke Pensworth of Daily Wireless.]

This news is a little outside my usual commentary, but it does reflect a trend. Augmented reality developments have grown steadily for many years. I first wrote about it before it had a name in the late 1990s regarding maintenance applications. Potential applications now are growing faster than the imagination right.

This “first-of-its-kind mobile augmented reality solution” creates a life-size 3D, virtual vehicle to enhance the car buying experience.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) unveiled a prototype of an immersive car sales application at Mobile World Congress designed and built by Accenture Digital using Google’s Project Tango developer kit. The prototype demonstrates how augmented reality can revolutionize the shopping experience for consumers by allowing them to view and interact with a full-scale virtual version of the object – or car – they are considering buying.

The prototype allows car buyers to hold a device and, using the integrated sensor technology and motion tracking, area learning, and depth perception from Project Tango, view, walk around, look inside and configure a life-size virtual car. On the Accenture demo, doors can be opened to reveal a realistic and detailed interior, where changes to upholstery colors or dashboard styles can be made with a tap on the device screen.

Project Tango technology gives mobile devices the ability to navigate the physical world similar to how we do as humans. Project Tango brings a new kind of spatial perception to Android devices by adding advanced computer vision, image processing, and special vision sensors. A Project Tango device maps the 360-degree environment around it, meaning that as it is moved it navigates and views the changing environment in the same way as a person would.  As the car is viewed through the device, the virtual car moves in relation to how the user moves.

The first commercial Project Tango device is expected to be available in summer 2016 and this application will be previewed to attendees of this year’s Mobile World Congress. Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, has worked with FCA to create an application for this new technology that will transform the process of buying and configuring a new car.

Untethered Augmented Reality Experience

Users of the FCA car configuration solution will be able to walk freely around a full-scale vehicle in almost any environment because Project Tango enables an untethered, handheld experience that does not rely on external tracking technology such as markers, beacons or GPS.

“Project Tango is a new, unique technology that is set to become standard functionality in the next generation of mobile devices,” said Matteo Aliberti, Digital Innovation lead for Accenture Interactive EALA. “Accenture has been experimenting with Project Tango and potential business uses for as long as it has been in development, creating a range of potential applications, including this one for the automotive industry.”

Accenture’s design-led development of this solution means that the process of making decisions about cars will be completely transformed with the new generation of mobile devices.  FCA is the first automotive brand to use this type of digital car configuration tool. Today’s car configurators are essentially flat, so with this tool FCA customers could have a more interesting and immersive experience.

This work is the latest collaboration between FCA and Accenture that aims to deliver a new and unique digital experience for FCA customers.

“Augmented reality is set to transform the way car-buyers choose and configure vehicles through the provision of immersive technology because it provides an enjoyable, delightful experience for customers,” said Luca Mentuccia, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Automotive practice. “We believe dealers and car buyers will be quick to embrace this enhanced way of buying a car as the new devices become readily available, taking advantage of the 360-degree mapping environment to create this unique experience.”