New Augmented Reality Technology Announced

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Augmented Reality is making headlines.

During the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Flex introduced its new Augmented Reality Reference Design for the next generation of smart glasses.  The product is designed to reduce the time to market for companies making AR devices for enterprise and consumer applications.

Basically, companies working within AR and building their own AR products can speed up the process by using the Flex AR reference design rather than develop their own AR device to work with.  Essentially, it skips that step and allows employees to go right to design.  It saves product development costs and can scale manufacturing.

Flex AR Ref Design combo

The Flex AR reference design includes a head-mounted display (HMD), and external processing unit (EPU) and a gesture-based software platform to manage interaction. 

"Augmented reality holds tremendous promise for companies of all sizes," said Mike Dennison, president of the Consumer Technologies Group at Flex. "Until now, AR innovators have been challenged by the high costs and cross-disciplinary expertise required to design and build robust solutions. The new Flex AR reference design solves these challenges with a customizable hardware and software platform that innovators can build upon to quickly make an impact in this exciting field." 

The announcement couldn’t come at a better time.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) says total spending on augmented reality and virtual reality products will go from $11.4 billion in 2017 to $215 billion in 2021.  

"AR headset shipments today are a fraction of where we expect them to be in the next five years, both in terms of volume and functionality," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers told Business Wire. "AR headsets are also on track to account for over $30 billion in revenue by 2021, almost twice that of VR, as most of the AR headsets will carry much higher average selling prices with earlier adopters being the commercial segment. Meanwhile, most consumers will experience AR on mobile devices, although it's only a matter of time before Apple's ARKit- and Google's ARCore-enabled apps make their way into consumer grade headsets."

“The fastest-growing area within the AR market is for HMDs in industrial applications, particularly in the fields of healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and other industries that deploy field technicians. AR innovation in these areas can help surgeons perform complex procedures with remote assistance, warehouse workers fulfill orders faster, and field technicians conduct remote repairs.”

Augmented Reality in the Workplace

Augmented Reality has the real potential to boost workers’ speed and accuracy while on the job.  For example, workers are Boeing are using AR to assist them in the construction of intricate wire harnesses.  Those devices send power and signals in planes.  Trying to construct the product using a desktop or a paper manual significantly slows the process down.  With AR, workers are able to overlay each step on to existing reality in order to construct the wire harness.  Boeing reports using AR has cut assembly time by 25% and reduced the error rate to nearly 0.

That’s not all.

Workers are able to get information on parts instantaneously.  If they have to go find a specific part, AR can help them locate the correct piece.

AR helps employees identify errors and help correct the issue.

If the worker needs more help, AR can provide them a link to directly to a supervisor.  The supervisor can see exactly what the worker sees through AR and can provide better assistance.

man using device for augmented reality

But what is AR’s impact on the HR space?

Like VR, AR can certainly serve as a training tool, but unlike VR, AR has many daily applications. A more precise answer to the question is AR will affect business processes, workflows, and employee training. What’s amazing, all of those could be impacted at the same time.

Through augmented reality the phrase jack of all trades has new meaning.

For example, a company is asked to send a home repairman to a job where furniture needs to be fixed. The problem is the repairman has no experience repairing furniture. Enter augmented reality. Knowing the specific type of furniture he’s going to repair and the problem with it would allow him to download step-by-step instructions to his smartphone. He can then overlay those using the phone and his camera and thus, be guided through the repair.

The business process was impacted by sending an unskilled worker to a job he had no training for. The workflow was affected because the worker had to lean on technology to assist in the repair. Lastly, the repairman received on the job training while fixing the furniture through use of the technology.

It’s through augmented reality we will see companies working with clients in a wide variety of industries regardless of mission.

With technology marching further into the HR space, it’s difficult for some to view it as any less than an invasion. The reality is it’s more of a revolution. The difficulties for HR professionals will be finding a way to apply new technologies to their daily, professional acts. The use of technology is not mandatory, but it is necessary to find the best talent available thus staying ahead of competitors and building better client relationships.