Augmented Realities

Augmented reality (AR) offers a wealth of opportunities, from displaying virtual objects and extra layers of information in real-life images to enhancing our perception of reality in real time using computers.

AR has become such a natural part of televised sports events that we are now completely accustomed to seeing distances marked out for us on the screen. But AR is also giving rise to a whole host of solutions for industrial applications, with apps facilitating everything from service call-outs to operating and maintenance procedures.

Corporate Research and Technology has been investigating the potential uses of AR since 2004. The first tool they created was a demo version of a service app for an electron microscope. Now development is well underway on an AR app for assembling EUV systems in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (SMT) business group following a successful series of preliminary tests and demos.

"The AR app makes life easier for the technicians who work on these highly sensitive pieces of equipment," says Ersun Kartal, Project Manager at Corporate Research and Technology. The app runs on a tablet or smartphone and displays each step in the process directly on the system. Thanks to the app's links to local databases, information such as datasheets and operating instructions can be presented as an added layer of virtual content while the user is looking at the system. The app shows engineers how and where to install specific components by displaying the required tools and parts in the real-life working environment, with everything clearly visible on the display in real time. "That means having to constantly leaf through manuals is now a thing of the past," says Kartal. "And there's no longer any need to painstakingly compare spare parts and tools with illustrations – because each step in the process is visualized exactly where you need it."

X-ray view of complex assemblies

This is particularly advantageous when you're working on complex EUV systems according to Jürgen Wagner, who heads up EUV POB Assembly at SMT: "The AR app gives the engineers a kind of 'X-ray view' of the parts and assemblies they normally can't see." Using the AR app makes it easier for service engineers to get the information they need, which makes their work more efficient. Even the most complex assembly tasks can be executed with even fewer errors than before thanks to the user-friendly interface. "The app also makes it simpler to carry out near-real-life training of the processes and responses in demonstration and training sessions without the need to actually assemble a system," Wagner adds. This new approach also scores highly in terms of quality management, because AR allows each component and accessory to be visualized and immediately highlights any deviations from their ideal state.

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