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Augmented reality: how will it affect our workspace?

Mark Williams

While virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have been in existence since the early 1960’s, it’s only in recent years that the technology has entered the mainstream, primarily within the world of gaming. For AR, one of the most recent successes came with the launch of Pokémon Go. The mobile game pairs augmented reality with gamification, blurring the lines between what’s real and the virtual world. It took the world by storm in 2016, and still continues in popularity with over 147 million monthly active players as of May this year.

As an already experimental arena, the world of gaming provided the perfect testing ground for this technology in its early stages and has helped to build more realistic and engaging experiences for players. Now though, as the technology behind AR and VR evolves, it is set to not only dominate the gaming space but the workplace too, and if the response to Pokémon Go is anything to go on, this tech has huge potential. Here are four ways we see VR and AR evolving and being used at work in the not so far off future. 

Faster and more efficient working

Maribel Lopez, technology industry analyst and strategic advisor at Lopez Research, covered the most difficult challenge of today’s workplace in a guest article for Forbes, “It’s difficult to create an innovative workplace if a company’s employees are using tools designed in the 1980s” (Maribel Lopez, Forbes). Without innovation and the introduction of new tools, business stagnates.  Now, the development of augmented reality has begun to appear in industrious workspaces in the form of Google Glass and HoloLens. Here digital information is layered over reality in order to process data at a quicker rate and helps the worker visualise data rather than reading between lines. This kind of use is still very much within the early stages of adoption, but with the addition of AI, we could see this progress to be rapidly more popular in the future.

Improved collaboration

Commercially, we’ve been using teleconferencing since the 1990s, enabling employees to work collaboratively work without the need for being in the same space. We’ve come a long way since then. Now, augmented reality is starting to help employees to work together more easily than before. For the first time, people are able to hold meetings and interact with each other in the same ‘virtual space’, enabling employees to be much more hands on, wherever they are in the world.

Enhanced training

Soon desktop-based learning will become a thing of the past, as we are set to move to a more immersive style. According to Blippar, “Those who studied using AR performed 150% better than those using paper-based training materials.” Augmented reality is bringing learning to life, and employees are more engaged with the activity and experience a more hands-on learning approach.

Augmented workplace

We already live with virtual spaces around us, from storing documents in the cloud to investing in bitcoin. The more virtual and augmented reality becomes normal within our everyday lives, the more it will be adopted within our working lives. One day, our work spaces may become an entirely virtual world where we pop on our virtual headsets and by moving our heads left or right we can ask our virtual assistants to bring up emails, create spreadsheets and organise our calendars.

We appreciate that some of this may sounds like a modern version of George Orwell’s 1984 or the Gene Roddenberry classic, Star Trek. But whether this technology is just around the corner or still light years’ away, one thing is for certain; we’re lucky enough to be living in an age full of innovation and technological change.

We certainly believe we’ve got an exciting future ahead of us, virtual assistants and all!

Read our related blog: The latest trends in robotics and automation

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