From Industry to Practice: Can Users Tackle Domain Tasks with Augmented Reality?
Doctoral thesis, 2023

Augmented Reality (AR) is a cutting-edge interactive technology. While Virtual Reality (VR) is based on completely virtual and immersive environments, AR superimposes virtual objects onto the real world. The value of AR has been demonstrated and applied within numerous industrial application areas due to its capability of providing interactive interfaces of visualized digital content. AR can provide functional tools that support users in undertaking domain-related tasks, especially facilitating them in data visualization and interaction by jointly augmenting physical space and user perception. Making effective use of the advantages of AR, especially the ability which augment human vision to help users perform different domain-related tasks is the central part of my PhD research.

Industrial process tomography (IPT), as a non-intrusive and commonly-used imaging technique, has been effectively harnessed in many manufacturing components for inspections, monitoring, product quality control, and safety issues. IPT underpins and facilitates the extraction of qualitative and quantitative data regarding the related industrial processes, which is usually visualized in various ways for users to understand its nature, measure the critical process characteristics, and implement process control in a complete feedback network. The adoption of AR in benefiting IPT and its related fields is currently still scarce, resulting in a gap between AR technique and industrial applications. This thesis establishes a bridge between AR practitioners and IPT users by accomplishing four stages. First of these is a need-finding study of how IPT users can harness AR technique was developed. Second, a conceptualized AR framework, together with the implemented mobile AR application developed in an optical see-through (OST) head-mounted display (HMD) was proposed. Third, the complete approach for IPT users interacting with tomographic visualizations as well as the user study was investigated.

Based on the shared technologies from industry, we propose and examine an AR approach for visual search tasks providing visual hints, audio hints, and gaze-assisted instant post-task feedback as the fourth stage. The target case was a book-searching task, in which we aimed to explore the effect of the hints and the feedback with two hypotheses: that both visual and audio hints can positively affect AR search tasks whilst the combination outperforms the individuals; that instant post-task feedback can positively affect AR search tasks. The proof-of-concept was demonstrated by an AR app in an HMD with a two-stage user evaluation. The first one was a pilot study (n=8) where the impact of the visual hint in benefiting search task performance was identified. The second was a comprehensive user study (n=96) consisting of two sub-studies, Study I (n=48) and Study II (n=48). Following quantitative and qualitative analysis, our results partially verified the first hypothesis and completely verified the second, enabling us to conclude that the synthesis of visual and audio hints conditionally improves AR search task efficiency when coupled with task feedback.

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis

Human-centered Design

User Study

Industrial Process Tomography

Augmented Reality

Gamma, Svea building, Forskningsgången 4, Chalmers Lindholmen. For online defense, the password: 230217
Opponent: Prof. Huyen Nguyen VENISE team, LISN/CNRS Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay, France


Yuchong Zhang

Chalmers, Computer Science and Engineering (Chalmers), Interaction Design and Software Engineering

A novel augmented reality system to support volumetric visualization in industrial process tomography

15th International Conference on Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction, IHCI 2021 and 14th International Conference on Game and Entertainment Technologies, GET 2021 - Held at the 15th Multi-Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems, MCCSIS 2021,; (2021)p. 3-9

Paper in proceeding

Augmented Reality with Industrial Process Tomography: To Support Complex Data Analysis in 3D Space

UbiComp/ISWC 2021 - Adjunct Proceedings of the 2021 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Proceedings of the 2021 ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers,; (2021)p. 56-58

Paper in proceeding

On-site or Remote Working?: An Initial Solution on How COVID-19 Pandemic May Impact Augmented Reality Users

ACM International Conference Proceeding Series,; (2022)

Paper in proceeding

Is Industrial Tomography Ready for Augmented Reality? A Need-finding Study of How Augmented Reality Can Be Adopted by Industrial Tomography Experts

Playing with Data: An Augmented Reality Approach to Immersively Interact with Visualizations of Industrial Process Tomography

See or Hear? Exploring the Effect of Visual and Audio Hints and Gaze-assisted Task Feedback for Visual Search Tasks in Augmented Reality

As Metaverse is gaining more attention nowadays, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) is becoming an emerging core technology gaining widespread recognition and use. However, aside from making gamified environments more immersive and intuitive, what else can AR bring about, particularly what can it offer to industrial practice? Does AR have the capacity to improve task performance, for instance in visual search tasks?

This thesis addresses early adaptation of AR within industrial process tomography (IPT). IPT is a unique imaging technique applied within industrial scenarios including trained workers and operators. To demonstrate that AR can be successfully used within IPT, this thesis presents a research pipeline spanning the understanding of domain users, eliciting research questions, advancing the proposed concept to practical artefact, and carrying out empirical evaluations. Generalizing from the case of IPT, AR is also shown to support visual search tasks. More specifically, AR is used to explore the effect of visual/audio hints combined with gaze-assisted feedback for AR visual searching processes.

Smart tomographic sensors for advanced industrial process control (TOMOCON)

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/671632), 2017-09-01 -- 2021-08-31.

Areas of Advance

Information and Communication Technology

Subject Categories

Computer and Information Science



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 5250



Gamma, Svea building, Forskningsgången 4, Chalmers Lindholmen. For online defense, the password: 230217


Opponent: Prof. Huyen Nguyen VENISE team, LISN/CNRS Université Paris-Saclay, Orsay, France

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