The unwavering growth in technology is taking over our everyday tasks and activities. There is no doubt that AR will become the way to interact between humans and machines. A new interface, indeed. As the digital world is venturing into the metaverse, from 2D to 3D world space, there is a lot of data that is transitioning between the two worlds. This transition may take some time and is also preventing us from fully exploiting the mass information available to us now. This is where Augmented reality comes into picture to bridge the gap.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a set of technologies that helps to combine the real world with computer-generated content. It’s an interactive and immersive experience that can span many sensory modalities that include the likes of visual, audio, haptic, olfactory among others. AR with the backing of its technology superimposes digital data and images on physical objects and environment to help close the gap between the real and digital world. AR helps to increase our ability to absorb and act on it when it puts the information directly into the context in which it is applied.
In the words of Michael E. Porter of Harvard and James E. Heppelmann, CEO of PTC (industrial software maker), AR will become the new interface between humans and machines. Many people today are aware of AR – more from an entertainment viewpoint such as Snapchat filters and geo-filters but AR has a more serious application in the business spectrum today that can be far more consequential to the way businesses are run. Many innovative and pioneering organizations are already implementing AR in their product strategy, manufacturing, marketing, services and training to much more. It is seen as a huge advantage point and gain for quality and productivity.
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Stepping into the world of metaverse, it becomes imperative for global organizations and start-ups to expand their strategic viewpoint and build an AR strategy. Here are the key capabilities that AR technology brings on board, thus aiding to overall business strategy as well:
Yes. AR applications have the capability to offer a kind of x-ray vision into the internal factor that would be otherwise difficult to see. It helps many industries to overlook certain factors that can restrict their performance, efficiency, or productivity in finishing a particular task – hence increasing output and offering a positive outcome of a situation.
Example: AccuVein, is a medical device company that uses AR technology. With AR they are able to convert the heat signature of a patient’s veins into an image that is superimposed on the skin – this helps to make the veins easier to locate for the doctor or related professional staff. This itself helps to drastically improve the success rate of blood draws and other vascular procedures. AR has tripled the success rate of needle sticks on the first try – as per many expert reports.
Another example is Bosch Rexroth who is a global provider of power units and controls that are used in manufacturing. They use AR-enhanced visualization to demonstrate the design and capabilities of its smart, connected CytroPac hydraulic power unit. The 3D visualization of the power unit helps for customers to see the internal pump and cooling options as well as how the subsystems fit together.
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Instruct/Direct and guide
Reducing time and increasing productivity?
Yes. AR is now also aiding to redefine training, coaching and direction/ instructions. These are considered critical functions that improve the workforce productivity and are considered to be inherently costly and labour-intensive. Written instructions can often be hard to follow and rather time-consuming step by step processes. When it comes to standard video training – they are not interactive and are unable to adapt to the individual learning needs. In-person training on the other hand gets to be expensive and requires students and teachers to be all at one site- which is hard for a global business set up spread across many towns and cities.
AR helps to address these issues and offers a step-by-step process of learning in real-time and on-site with tasks such as product assembly, machine operations and warehouse picking. The 3D learning walks the person through the necessary processes and the user is able to visualize the processes in real time.
Boeing has seen that AR training has had a tremendous impact on the productivity and quality of complex aircraft manufacturing processes. AR based training results reflected saving time and more correct following of the procedure.
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Enhance the human decision-making process
The core essence of AR tech is how humans are able to process the information. While humans interact and process everything through their five senses, vision is what offers us the most amount of information so far – experts give a strong 80% to 90% of our daily information is gathered and accessed via vision.
With AR tech, cognitive load and cognitive distance (the gap that happens between how the information is presented and context in which it is applied) come into application in a rather easier way. In our physical world we absorb a huge amount of information along with the variety of it in the same second. AR essentially superimposes information on the physical world, places it in context and helps to reduce the cognitive distance therefore reducing the cognitive load. This is a key reason that reflects how powerful AR is. AR eliminates the out-of-context and otherwise hard to process information while at the same time it improves the ability of the users to understand and apply information in the real world.
Interacting with machines and products?
Humans have made use of physical controls like keypads, buttons, touchscreens, and others to interact with products. We live in a digital age today where many products can be operated remotely with the help of advanced tech.
AR in this context offers a whole new context of interaction by its interface. With superimposed images directly on the product are operated using AR headset, hand gestures and voice commands. Users wearing smart glasses will soon be able to simply gaze at or point to a product to activate a virtual user interface and operate it. A worker wearing smart glasses – with the help of AR – will walk through a factory line and be able to see their performance parameters, adjust as required.
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Organizations need to realize that while the interaction capability of AR is still at a nascent stage, the usage in commercial products of this technology is revolutionary. While the many technologies underpinning these capabilities are still emerging and the accuracy of voice commands in noisy environments is improving by the day and the advances in gestures and gaze tracking have been rapid – this is still just the beginning.
Not only will the brand’s production facilities and interaction go through this revolution, but sales and marketing will also be part of this. AR’s ability to reduce cognitive load when it comes to decision making will be a game changer for sales and marketing activities. AR is already making waves in showrooms and redefining how products are presented to the customers.
Understanding how crucial AR is in making decision easy, production more efficient and effective and saving time – should be crucial enough for businesses to start building their own AR strategy and capture the market segment before their competition.
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