Research firm sees expanding landscape as AR technology becomes more widespread
Research firm Gartner believes that Augmented Reality (AR) technology will soon be widespread in many offices and businesses, as organisations look to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds.
In a report, the firm says that it expects to see ‘moderate’ adoption of AR technology over the next five years as the hardware supporting the technology, such as affordable head-mounted displays, along with integrated smartphone and tablet support, becomes more widespread and available.
“Although the adoption of augmented reality (AR) in the enterprise is still in its infancy, AR technology has matured to a point where organisations can use it as an internal tool to complement and enhance business processes, workflows and employee training,” the report says.
More than a gimmick
The report states that the implementation of AR technology currently falls into one of two categories, divided into location-based (where a device uses sensors to provide information based on a user’s location) or computer vision (where tracking sensors identify an object and provide information on it – such as Google Goggles or optical character recognition.)
However, this will soon expand as developers and manufacturers look to utilise AR technology in different ways. Primary among these is employee efficiency, as the image recognition capabilities of AR would allow workers faster responses and decision making. For example, using barcodes or QR codes, a worker at a warehouse would easily be able to identify where an object can be located, especially as the precision of indoor locating services has improved greatly over the last few years.
But the technology could be used in a wide range of industries. The report mentions that AR has the potential to quickly identify objects generating levels of heat or radiation, which could allow workers to check for any possible leaks or hazards.
It could also be deployed to help direct employees in low-visibility environments, such as firefighters in a burning building, whilst also providing information such as distance, size or level of danger on objects presented to the worker, an application only currently seen in video games.
“AR is most useful as a tool in industries where workers are either in the field, do not have immediate access to information, or jobs that require one or both hands and the operator’s attention,” said Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner. “As such, the impact on weightless industries is lower because these employees often have constant and direct access to the information they need (such as knowledge workers).”