The advancement of technology is both a curse and a blessing for today’s businesses. It’s great for the productivity benefits that stem from the exploration of what’s possible.
The curse is trying to sort through what’s here and what’s coming, and determine where you should invest—and when. At what point do you adopt a new technology? How much testing is necessary to place you gently in the comfort zone?
Augmented reality (AR) is one of those technologies.
AR bridges the divide between physical reality and a digital one.
It’s not a new concept.
Back in 1992, Louis Rosenberg developed the first immersive augmented AR system at the U.S. Air Force’s Armstrong Laboratory.
AR has gained major traction as the technology evolves. It goes beyond virtual reality, which simulates a scenario.
AR adds a digitized, visual and/or audio layer of information to what an individual is experiencing in the physical world.
The technology hit a stumbling block with the introduction of Google Glass, the hi-tech specs that were set to change our lives. The product didn’t meet expectations, however, and the product has left many people lukewarm about the AR potential.
2014 and Beyond
DHL, however, successfully completed a three-week AR “vision picking” pilot in 2014. Employees in a warehouse in The Netherlands used smartglasses that displayed tasks like product location and quantity. After processing 9,000 orders that contained more than 20,000 items, DHL determined that this AR technology increased picking efficiency by 25%.
Augmented reality company Daqri has applied the innovative technology to a smart helmet. This 21st century hard hat was designed to improve safety, productivity, and efficiency in rugged, industrial environments, like construction sites, oil rigs, and water treatment plants. The Daqri Smart Helmet is fitted with a sophisticated system of sensors, camera, and Intel processor. The wearer gets a 360-degree view that provides a 3-D model of the surroundings, including structural elements.
According to Daqri, “The smart helmet knows how you move through a space, and it can map the environment and start to create a 3D reconstruction of a facility. When you have multiple people wearing the smart helmets, they share that information and you build an entire model of that facility with that combined data.”
Architects are using augmented reality to more fully explore the interior of a building, even at the earliest part of the design process. Architect Greg Lynn used the Microsoft HoloLens headset for his work on the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.
“Having the ability to both animate [models] with the simulated flow of equipment and people, as well as calling up more detailed digital content on the actual model in space, is amazing,” Lynn explained. “Augmented reality technologies on job sites and in factories will, with absolute certainty change the way buildings are constructed. Therefore, it will change the way architects work and will change their role.”
How far will AR take us? Well, let’s wait and “see”. Check back for more on augmented reality!
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