Augmented reality [AR] superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world providing a composite view. Sounds like science fiction though it is a very commonly used technology. Gamers are very familiar with it. Two of the most popular video games in the world Pokemon Go and Minecraft Earth use AR. If you are not familiar with those games google tiger on your phone. You’ll see an option for 3D and one to see the 3D image in your environment. With just my cell phone and the cloud I can see a tiger in my environment and really get an idea of its veracity, size and movement.
In business AR changes the way we collaborate. Just like the tiger appearing in my garden a product lets say a hammer can appear virtually in 3D allowing meeting participants from anywhere to see and interact with the design and the components. They can brainstorm on ways to improve or solve a problem remotely as if they were all in the same room. Another business use is the remote expert. In this example an expert can see an environment and use 3d images and annotations to remotely troubleshoot a problem. Many companies have successfully integrated AR technology. One example is Ford Motor Company who uses AR to design vechiles.
The impact on business will be even greater as more use cases emerge due to covid-19 crisis. Here are some examples I have encountered with my clients in the last few weeks;
Field Service – This client supports business critical equipment and is paid to be onsite with the equipment in case it malfunctions. Now only essential employees are allowed onsite. The technician being employed by my client is no longer allowed to be onsite. Using AR the expert can see the equipment exactly as the essential workers sees it and remotely instruct the onsite employee on how to remediate the issue using annotations and instructions that appear in the field of vison of the onsite employee.
Training – This client creates very complex industrial products throughout the world. Their experts travel the globe training new employees on the production floor. Now travel is severely restricted and in some cases impossible. Using AR the experts no longer need to travel and can provide nearly hands on training from anywhere in the world. They see through the eyes of the trainee and can easily instruct through 3d models and on-screen annotations. An additional benefic gained was the use of real time translation breaking down language barriers.
Sales– This client makes high tech office equipment. They have showrooms to display the equipment and offer pre and post sales support. Now their customers cannot visit the showroom. Using AR their customers can remotely see a 3D model and see how their configuration will actually look in their office space.
AR is here. Its an inexpensive and mature technology when used creativity can add tremendous value to a business process.