The concept of the virtual world making your real-world workday more efficient is nothing new. In fact, technologists have been envisioning such a future since the early days of virtual reality in the 1980s. But even with more modern versions of VR, we still haven’t been able to fix one of its biggest issues. In short, VR makes you sick. While your mind sees that you’re moving, your body feels like it’s not. You become disoriented, and it can make you physically ill. That’s why a new type of VR called augmented reality, is becoming a popular alternative.
AR takes the virtual world and places it within the physical one. By doing this, you don’t lose the orientation and feel of the real world, but gain all the benefits of virtual reality. This has especially exciting possibilities for how we will work in the future. Let’s look at the five biggest ways.
There are many jobs which require a lot of imagination, yet lose something when those thoughts are transferred to two-dimensional paper. Take for example an architect or designer: blueprints and sketches are their canvas. Without models, you’re forced to imagine what a building or room might look like in your mind’s eye.
Imagine instead having the capability to build these plans virtually. An architect might construct a 3D-model in AR, allowing people to see how a building would look at the building site itself, rather than attempting to imagine it from a small 3D model in a boardroom.
Collaboration Across Long Distances
Today’s workforce is increasingly global. As a result, teams could be spread across states or even continents. Getting everyone together in the physical world regularly is expensive, and simple digital tools like e-mail and video conferencing can only go so far.
With AR and VR, distant teams can collaborate in a virtual work area, and in real time. With a 3D canvas to work with, it’s so much easier to work and physically “see” that final product. Things get done quicker because distance is no longer an issue.
Presentations that Feel More Real
If you’ve seen SyFy’s new series The Expanse, then you’ve seen a 23rd Century world where the virtual and real worlds are blurred. Displays appear out of thin air in three-dimensional space, and can be physically manipulated. While this is supposed to be 200 years in the future, we’re much closer to making this a reality than you might think.
In the workplace, this has all kinds of exciting applications. Presentations become more interactive, and ideas conveyed in a more tangible way. Plans for a new aircraft engine or new concept car are shown in real-time, and possibly even actual size. Costs are reduced as full size (and expensive) mock-ups are no longer necessary. Changes can be made on the fly, lessening time in sending plans back to designers for edits.
GE recently did a study comparing the productivity of its workers responsible for wiring its wind turbines. The company first timed its workers wiring using its current process. On the second run, workers put on an AR headset and did the same job. On first use, worker performance increased 34 percent.
There’s an easy explanation for this difference, and that’s engagement. Instead of having to look away from what they’re doing to read instructions or manuals, those instructions are in their line-of-sight while they work, even pointing out where to look. While this is a specific example, there are many other ways your employer could use AR to limit distractions and help you to get your jobs done quicker, freeing up time for other work.
You Can Be More Organized
Many of us aren’t the most organized. Our desks are sprawling piles of papers, sticky notes, and books. While some of us can organize this mess well and know where to find the information we need, many of us end up losing something sooner or later. One technique to manage a large amount of information is a mind map.
This is one area where AR is coming to the rescue in a real way. Mind Map AR is a revolutionary new mind mapping tool that allows you to diagram a mind map in 3D space. Native Google Tango AR support makes it possible, and your ideas can be as expansive as they need to be, free from the constraints of paper and pen. The app releases soon, and you can get early access by signing up to get notified of the beta release today.