Wouldn’t it be amazing if our tools could see the world in the same way that we do or even show us a world of what “could” be? That’s exactly what some very forward thinking companies are asking as they seek to move beyond smartphone screens in creating a more immersive – and useful – digital experience. Welcome to the burgeoning business of Augmented Reality (AR).
Previously, most AR was limited to phone screen applications used make media more interactive by displaying pop-ups with 3D representations and video for advertising and news articles. Recently, I was fortunate enough to interview several experts from three very unique reality companies as they shared their intentions of revolutionizing the desk-less work environment.
Enter Pete Wassell, founder of Augmate, a wearable platform for industrial cloud based digital eyewear applications based in New York City. When speaking with Pete it was made very clear that their industrial applications have moved well beyond ad pop-ups and into “blue collar” applications capable of making desk-less workers more effective. As Pete explains his specific targeting of B2B markets: “We aim to make desk-less workers more efficient, such as warehouse pickers, assembly line workers, people on factory floors… there’s upwards of an additional 30% efficiency of time on task when someone has directions in their field of view.”
As an example Pete also commented on the benefits of warehouse workers automatically calculating and communicating inventory levels and other pertinent information on the spot without needing to “search” without explicit queues to help. Even the basic functionality of having a “checklist” in a worker’s field of view (a feature that doesn’t involve massive computing power) could save many man-hours of work and human error in a given week, month, or year. Recently, Augmate’s “InstructAR” was featured on TechCrunch, and you can check out the video here.
B2B applications often seem foreign to consumers, who haven’t seen much of augmented reality outside of 3-D graphics displayed in magazines when seen though a smartphone lens (assuming the have the right AR app). Often these kinds of graphic displays are likened to “gimmicks” that don’t add much value outside of novelty. Trak Lord, the former head of U.S. marketing for Metaio-head quartered in Munich, Germany and one of the few AR companies over 10 years old – jokingly refered to the magazine AR interactive pop-ups as “bunnies in newspapers”. In fact, in our initial interview Trak remarked that at Metaio not only does many of the novel applications of AR not add value to users but that it may actually hurt the industry more than help it.
Metaio on the other hand is helping companies’ sales forces communicate what could be. An example being with the sale of large robotic arms weighing in the tons with a need to be bolted down to the ground to operate. And while it is theoretically possible to manually measure and calculate the dimensions of these large robotic arms in a factory setting, Metaio assists salesmen in leveraging augmented reality by demonstrating how exactly said arms may look upon installation. Trak notes that it’s important that these machines can’t “high five” each other, humorously alluding to the safety concerns of keeping these massive robotic arms outside of each others way.
It is the opinion of many of the executives and researchers I’ve interviewed thus far that “blue collar” work may give AR some initial traction as others innovate and improve its applications. With AR in its infancy it’s not certain exactly how our interaction with data in our working lives-and our personal lives for that matter-may be affected. But one thing seems close to certain – AR is going to be jumping out of our smartphones and into the real world in the coming five years, and we haven’t seen the last the the innovative startups in this space.
About The Author
Daniel Faggella holds a UPENN master’s degree in positive psychology, and is founder of TechEmergence, a news and advice website specifically for entrepreneurs and investors interested in the intersection of technology and psychology. He regularly interviews world experts on philosophy, artificial intelligence, life extension, and more, and has written for BETABoston, the World Future Society, the Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technology, TechCrunch and more.
Image Source – arlab.com