Become real with augmented reality
Much of the press attention lately has been devoted to an intriguing pair of visual communication technologies – augmented reality (AR) and its cousin virtual reality (VR) – each described as the key to everything. enable accelerated, industrial workflows to the clinical personality. metamorphosis. In fact, both results are currently available. But depending on how the systems are applied, these examples only scratch the surface of what is possible.
At the same time, however, AR and VR are positioning themselves as futuristic technologies, which has led to serious misunderstandings. For example, there is the idea that these systems are so new and unfamiliar that they would require major employee retraining to be able to use them. This is simply not the case. The technology behind AR has been around since before the turn of this century, and it hasn’t been lurking in anyone’s lab. In fact, he’s been a guest in the homes of most Americans all this time.
Think about the last time you saw an NFL football game or an MLB baseball game on TV. Neither the bright orange line that indicates the distance to the next first down, nor the bright blue line showing the current line of scrimmage, actually exists on the pitch. They are electronic and increase the viewer’s understanding of the game in progress. In baseball, the electronic box superimposed on the plate shows the pitcher’s strike zone. Particularly when paired with slow motion, the intimate details of fast-paced play, often including actions that are too fast or too nuanced for spectators in the stands to see for themselves, become crystal clear. And that doesn’t even count the game stats and player bios that are frequently displayed on the screen. What the home viewer actually watches is augmented reality enhanced sports coverage, and it essentially requires no new learning on their part to understand or use.
A related confusion about AR is that its use must cost a fortune. After all, few businesses, let alone consumers, can afford to have a fleet of full TV network production trucks in their aisle, generating the kind of visual increases that come with game coverage. While it may have been necessary 25 or 30 years ago, technology has come a long way since then, to the point that AR is now easily accessible to private consumers as well as businesses of all sizes. Augmented reality apps are available for smartphones, often for free, and they offer many of the same enhancements that viewers now take for granted.
Take, for example, Snapchat, which uses electronic lenses and filters – most of them built by Snap users themselves – to create playful animated imaginatively augmented images. Even Zoom, and most other teleconferencing software that has become familiar to anyone working from home during the pandemic, includes a modest selection of increases to improve user images. Electronic games, dating back to the 1990s, used primitive forms of AR. And the hugely popular smartphone game of 2016, Pokémon Go, managed to harness a combination of routine smartphone technologies to increase gamers’ view of reality and grab the attention of millions of people.
Retailers, interior designers, and online merchants have also found AR useful. Want to see what your living room would look like in different colors? No problem. What about a change of flooring? Or if that pair of shoes looks good on you? Or how would those reading glasses fit your face? Or that particular shade of lipstick? Just a touch or two, and… voila!
This technology also has revolutionary potential for industrial use. Remote Assistance using AR allows manufacturing experts to connect in real time to on-site workers in the factory to offer advice regarding inspection, repair or maintenance, all in the context of real applications. The ability to digitally augment real-world images from a remote location dramatically improves communication clarity and improves collaboration.
Take the case of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO). MRO activities are not only among the most critical engineering fields for economic growth and industrial operations, they are also ideal candidates for AR in developed and developing economies. The global augmented reality MRO market was valued at $ 403.3 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $ 3.3 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 42.1% during the period forecast 2018-2024.
All of this suggests that AR, although built on a high-tech platform, has now become familiar and habitual, especially for just about anyone under the age of 40. And they use it as more than just a fun, fun experience. It’s also seen as a way to immerse themselves in an augmented environment that improves the work they focus on during the workday by reducing errors and increasing productivity.
On the contrary, for an increasing number of workers, AR has become an expectation, and sometimes even a source of disappointment if it is not used to play a more important role in their working life. Consider maintenance, manufacturing and logistics, where portable, hands-free, and head-up information displays on smart glasses are used for inspection and quality assurance, and where more immersive mixed reality systems promise to enable even better and smarter results.
The key is to cultivate a workforce where work processes are digitally connected, end-to-end. Connecting real-time workers to corporate business processes and desired outcomes is emerging as the foundation of cutting-edge businesses. The technology to provide all of this is now within reach, and barriers to entry have all but disappeared. AR is an important part of making the connected worker experience possible. Today, nothing stands in the way of companies allowing their workforce to expand it with the capabilities it needs. All the resources that workers might need can become immediately accessible. And the next few years will see even better platforms that further reduce the complexity of adoption while improving worker responses to challenges.
Augmented reality has now become the new reality of the workplace. It’s time to get on board.