Despite the difficult year we have all just experienced, the 3D scanning market continues to grow. More than ever, life is becoming digital (accelerated development by Covid-19) while the need for virtual solutions and information continues to be a priority. This trend will have a significant impact on the 3D scanning industry as we enter a new year, and will influence developments in this area.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, 5G and automated manufacturing, these are the future trends that will develop in the field of 3D scanning and its applications.
Augmented reality and virtual reality will become more widespread
Remote collaborations and online events will continue next year, increasing the use of RA and RV by organizations that may never have relied on this technology before. Virtual reality will increasingly be used to make online training more stimulating and realistic - and therefore more effective. These training tactics could become the new standard for the many companies that are moving away from the office environment to a remote structure.
RV and RA will also begin to reshape our experiences in the web. As museums are no longer able to accommodate as many visitors as before, we will see more of these institutions organize larger exhibitions online. These tactics are already being adopted at major trade shows and events that are scrambling to find other ways to connect their visitors.
E-commerce is arguably the most notable and sophisticated use of RA/RV, and many customers have already adopted it. Large online retailers use apps that allow you to virtually place furniture and other items in your real home. The pandemic has made this technology known to a large number of customers who prefer to avoid physical stores. Retailers that do not yet use these tools are quickly falling behind.
3D scanning is essentially a portal between the real and the virtual. Instruments used to transport real scenes and objects in a virtual world, 3D scanners are crucial for the aforementioned applications. As a result, there will be increased demand for these tools. Manufacturers expect sales of 3D scanners to increase in 2021.
The 3D body scan at home
Virtual fittings have recently grown rapidly thanks to 3D scanning. Using scanners, retailers are looking to create software that can precisely adjust 2D and 3D images to human body models. We are so close to seeing a production-ready technology emerge that I think 2021 could be the year it becomes a reality.
This technology will have a huge impact on online purchases of clothing, shoes and other items that usually require tried. What's more, it will pave the way for custom clothing. Lingerie designers are already using this technology to design custom bras and it is likely that other companies will follow suit. While this scan is mainly in-person, we are not far from seeing mirrors with 3D scanning capabilities providing measurements to retailers.
The 3D scan will also make a place in various fitness applications that will be able to accurately estimate, track and analyze a person's body changes during a sports training program. The successes of companies such as Peloton and other manufacturers of state-of-the-art home fitness equipment have been propelled by the need for social distancing that emerged this year. Current demand for this technology could continue to grow.
More than ever, 5G will connect scanners
Another element to pay attention to in 2021 is the development and increased deployment of 5G, which will offer the ability to manufacture 3D scanners that are always connected - "smart scanners." Scanners are starting to be equipped with connectivity capabilities, which the addition of 5G will strengthen more than ever. Whether you're in an office or in the field, smart 3D scanners will be able to upload data to real-time databases, harmonizing the entire process. In addition, this will accelerate data sharing around the world, as well as the sharing of research and information.
Recently, we participated in a 3D scanning project at an archaeological site in South Africa to scan a 2 million-year-old fossil. The scan data was almost immediately shared with the archaeologists' research laboratory, and was also used to train students in real time. The future development of 5G could further accelerate this process - at lightning speed. In addition, international companies could use 3D scanning data to meet engineering and product design challenges by mobilizing resources in their various offices around the world.
Automated manufacturing and deliveries
In 2021, we expect to see the biggest changes in robotics/automation. The recent shift to telecommuting has led to a huge demand for automation of manufacturing and delivery processes. As a result, many research laboratories are focusing their efforts on this task, and many have already made considerable progress. This year, we will probably see AI algorithms being used to control processes that previously would have required human intervention.
It is also crucial that AI applications include 3D vision and the ability to map environments so that technologies (such as autonomous robots) can operate in the real world without being limited to pre-programmed trajectories. Their ability to respond to changes in their environment will be key to the development of these technologies and their intelligence in the years to come.
2020 will remain a year apart. In 2021, life will probably return to some normality, but the need for digitization will persist - and in addition to maintaining the need for 3D scanning technologies, it will accelerate this.
The Asgard group continues its development by strengthening its service activity in "Maintenance and Metrology" by the acquisition by its subsidiary Sofimae of the ECME verification business line (ECME equipment).