Transforming Work Through Augmented Reality

Transforming Work Through Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a technology that makes it possible to overlay digital data onto the real world, and thus significantly improve the working processes.

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Recently, we have witnessed the rise of various technological developments that are bound to change the way we work. One of them is augmented reality, a technology that makes it possible to overlay digital data onto the real world, and thus give workers immediate access to important information. But what is augmented reality and how is it changing today’s working processes? The global consultancy company Deloitte conducted a research examining these and other vital questions. Here is what they found:

What is AR?

When you think of augmented reality, you probably imagine presentations of data in the form of digital images overlaid on live video or projected on glasses. However, augmented reality or AR is much more than that. The technology, which is powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), could potentially provide value to workplaces by integrating digital information into the ways in which workers see the world. In turn, this information might guide employees` choices and actions in real time, according to Deloitte`s report.

AR is a unique tool that combines three important elements. The latter are listed below:

  • The source of the data (cameras, sensors, Internet of Things)
  • The ways in which that data is presented (visual overlay, auditory cues, live video)
  • The interaction with, and use of, that data as an impetus for action (gestures, voice commands, gaze and attention)

“AR is fundamentally about allowing humans and machines to team together to achieve results neither could alone“, as Deloitte wrote, elaborating that teamwork can be the key to success in the complex, data-rich world we inhabit today.

Technological advancements like AR are bringing new capabilities that can generate improvements in work performance. Nevertheless, one may ask why AR is necessary?

How AR helps us?

The nature of work has clearly changed as the volume of information has increased. Hundreds of emails, social media posts, texts, and others are a normal part of our daily activities. Still, humans find it demanding to go through large volumes of information, with the aim to derive value from it. As a result, machines and technological improvements like AR will probably be necessary for assignments which include high volumes of data, or which are highly variable, as Deloitte pointed out.

In fact, the study outlines two main factors that determine how we process information to accomplish tasks: 1) the volume/complexity of data and 2) the variability of the task.

The first is better handled by machines that are not inclined to miss relevant details the way humans tend to do it. On the other hand, humans perform better than computers with reference to variability of tasks. Whereas computers can go through large volumes of data, humans are better when it comes to dealing with variation. Deloitte gives an example with human language that is rich in variation and context. For example, a person would detect sarcasm, while computers would find it a difficult task.

According to Deloitte, both of these factors can negatively impact work performance. Neither humans, nor machines can deal on their own, since both have their weaknesses.

“And so, it seems clear that increasingly, we will need teaming between human and machine, with each playing to its strengths. In short, for many modern tasks, we would benefit from AR”, as Deloitte stated in their research document.

Future business opportunities

The report goes on to discuss the ways in which AR can change work environment for the better. Also, Deloitte gives some recommendations on how businesses can benefit from and apply AR to their work environments:

  • Give credit for explorative and “just-in-time” learning. For example, employees could be encouraged to listen to podcasts that educate them and help them learn how to solve problems at the workplace.
  • Promote the use of emerging tool-sets like Skype, FaceTime, and Speech to Text to increase the adoption of new productivity tools as they become available. One way to do it is to prompt staff to use web casts, screen sharing, and the live chat tool by having remote meetings, for instance.
  • Create a culture of technology integration and play. Activities that involve play and technical solutions are a good way to achieve that. One example may be given with hackathons, where colleagues are provided with time to think of ways to use technology tools to solve problems that stand in their way. In this way, innovation and problem solving are recognized as vital for the particular organization.
  • Cultivate a fast-fail mind-set among staff. It is important to support experimentation, as well as provide learning opportunities. This is important because the marketplace is constantly changing, and workers should be equipped to adapt as fast as possible.

By following Deloitte`s advice, companies can ensure that they are ready to take advantage of the possible benefits AR can offer them.

If you wish to read the full report with more detailed insights, please visit Deloitte’s survey here.