Interact with technology more intuitivelyGetty
Virtual reality has received a lot of attention, but it is augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies which will really enhance our capabilities in the real world and allow us to interact with technology more intuitively.
Both technologies have clear applications for the future workplace, as we have seen at CES 2017 — from the smart glasses by Vuzix and ODG to the much-discussed Microsoft Hololensheadset, which will allow you to interact with holograms around you.
Here are a few things to know about both of these technologies.
AR overlays virtual or synthetic elements onto the real world, whereas virtual reality is immersion in a virtual world. AR allows users to stay in the real world while maintaining connectivity to the Internet and a host of AR-enabled applications and services. Employees on the factory floor need to be present and engaged in the factory, not in a virtual world, but traditional computing technology is difficult to use while performing other tasks.
AR allows employees to use the computer without constraining their hands. It can be used in any position such as horizontal under a car, standing, or traveling. That is the beauty of AR. It applies technology to what we are already doing, and it does so in a way that is natural for end users. In fact, 77% of millennials and 47% of baby boomers would be willing to use AR in professional life, according to the Dell and Intel Future Workforce Study.
AR will support and enhance our business operations. Liam Quinn, CTO at Dellexplains how AR can transform the workplace. Primarily, AR will free up our hands so that we can work in our environment unhindered and yet still connected. AR makes it easier to obtain support because a remote technician can see what you see and work with you on a more personal basis. It is also extremely valuable for training. Instructions or demonstrations can be overlaid onto real life while a task is performed.
There is a multitude of opportunities within AR. With AR, you can get an x-ray view of hardware from internal sensors or overlay infrared heat signatures onto a regular field of view. GPS data can be viewed while walking to a destination or contact details retrieved based on facial recognition when seeing someone.
MR is a similar concept to AR with some key differences. AR overlays content onto the world around us, but that content is not something the user interacts with. It is primarily informational.
MR, however, allows for interactivity between real and virtual components. This is especially relevant with the increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) because these Internet-connected devices can then be manipulated through MR.
Data from the machines around a person can be displayed on their MR gear. For example, a worker in a pump station could see the pressure levels of pipes at different places around the pump house. He or she could make flow changes to compensate using MR while still looking around the pump house rather than going to a computer console.
Security solutions could be implemented with MR. For example, an entry door may be equipped with a camera. When a user approaches the door, their MR gear displays several pictures to them. They swipe through the ones that form their password in the appropriate order to gain entrance. The camera observes the swipes and knows which places should be swiped because it is interfacing with the MR gear. The same user approaching later would receive a set of pictures in different locations.
MR allows users to create content. Paint with virtual brushes, manipulate 3D objects that you can walk around and view from multiple perspectives, or collaborate around a shared virtual table that each person experiences in their own location.
As you can see, AR and MR can bridge the gap between how we interact with the real world and how we utilize technology. They are the next step in human computer interaction, and they are poised to change the way we work and do business.