Why Augmented Reality is Set to Become an Enterprise Mainstay
:: By Krish Kupathil, Mobiliya ::
While the earliest roots of augmented reality (AR) may be traced to consumer-centric domains like retail, advertising, media and entertainment, its future lies in the core enterprise sector.
For the believers of stats and figures, the recent report by Juniper Research confirms this by stating the use of AR apps in enterprise will grow to $2.4 billion in 2019, a sharp ten-fold increase from $247 million in 2014 in just five years. This year has already seen a phenomenal rise in the release of enterprise apps and can well be the turning point for this still-nascent technology. In 2016, we have already seen the biggest AR blockbuster yet, in the form of Pokémon Go, a game that can well go on to become the face of AR.
From being considered niche or futuristic, AR has now suddenly become a common household technology that employees, who form a large segment of active Pokémon Go players, can relate to and even willingly use for everyday workflows. AR is already helping employees boost productivity and find better ways to work. Below are four ways in which it can completely transform the way enterprises function:
1. Reducing Training Time: This is arguably the best use case for AR. Be it interns learning the ropes of a multinational or a shop floor worker training on the assembly line, AR serves as a more robust tool than the traditional 2-D manuals or guides. AR-based 3-D models allow users to train in a practical environment, effectively “using” parts or components instead of just reading about them and hence learning faster. Visual-rich AR apps allow trainees to explore a huge machine by actually taking out every part one-by-one, making it easier to get a hands-on training on even the most complex mechanisms and industrial systems.
2. Better Recall of Work Instructions: A picture is worth a thousand words and that is exactly what AR leverages. From a car engine, a large warehouse with different divisions or even an overseas client location, AR can bring it alive in just one click and allow the user to literally walkthrough it. In addition, using elements from games such as Pokémon Go will further drive the idea of quickly finding virtual objects in the real world as employees can now relate to these digital environments much better, making it easier to follow and recall work and field instructions.
3. Increased Work Efficiency: Field workers like site engineers, logistics employees or factory personnel can often run into situations where they need quick assistance from headquarters to guide them through rough ground conditions, changes in client delivery locations or machine failures. In these situations, an AR-powered smartglass can be the perfect guide to help them through these roadblocks. Workers can connect with experts or managers located at the base and live stream step-by-step methods of fixing machine breakdowns or the precise area on the site that is volatile or environmentally hazardous. This greatly reduces the time that is otherwise taken by field engineers or workers to go back and forth with experts at base to consult over complex matters before giving a resolution. This remote guidance helps employees to become increasingly efficient, less prone to errors and thus increase enterprise profitability.
4. Enhanced Communication: One of the key areas that AR impacts is communication and collaboration. Already, companies like Microsoft are developing AR-based video conferencing techniques that allow 3-D projection of the participants as if they are talking to each other sitting in the same room. Such mechanisms can completely eliminate the dividing screen between the two participants and even allow them to display and interact with 3-D images of equipment, architecture models, products and shapes for better perspective and understanding during the conversation.
Judging by the current trends, we can expect more mature enterprise AR apps to hit the market later this year and next. And considering the availability of a range of powerful handheld devices like tablets and more sophisticated HMDs, enterprise AR adoption is on track to become widespread across a range of verticals.
About the Author
Krish Kupathil is the founder and CEO of Mobiliya, which provides device-to-cloud software engineering and system integration services with specialization in Internet-of-Things, enterprise software, augmented reality, embedded systems, security and automotive. A veteran of the mobile engineering industry and a recognized influencer worldwide in telecommunication and mobile software, Kupathil is a trusted advisor to senior executives in blue chip companies such as Google, Microsoft, Deutsche Telekom, Qualcomm and Intel.