Enterprise augmented reality (AR) headsets are already on the market and are having meaningful business impacts for companies that choose to use them. There's a lot of speculation about how consumer-grade AR glasses from companies like Apple and Meta will improve our lives, but we don't need to speculate with enterprise use. An enterprise AR solution can help your business achieve faster results, increase worker safety, help your people make better decisions, and save time.
Enterprise vs. Consumer Augmented Reality
But first—what's the difference between an enterprise solution and a consumer-grade solution? A consumer-grade solution is a product or service sold to an individual, while an enterprise solution helps facilitate business processes. An augmented reality consumer-grade solution will often end up on a phone or tablet, whereas an enterprise solution will often be deployed to a dedicated headset, like Microsoft's HoloLens 2 or Magic Leap headsets.
Throughout this article, we’ll analyze four ways enterprise augmented reality can help your business:
Achieve faster results through better collaboration.
Increase worker safety while decreasing training costs.
Make better decisions with complex information.
Save time completing infrequent tasks.
1. Achieve Faster Results Through Better Collaboration
Augmented reality enables a higher quality collaborative environment. The most effective way to collaborate is in person—but whether through scheduling conflicts or physical distance, in-person collaboration can't always happen. Video and phone calls can be helpful, but describing how to repair complicated machinery with only words is a poor substitute for standing next to a person and pointing to something directly.
With AR remote assistance, experts can place virtual objects in the workspace of a person wearing an AR headset, showing exactly where something is as if the expert were right there in the room. Experts stay where they need to be while giving effective help, and their expertise is made available to a wider group of people.
2. Increase Worker Safety While Decreasing Training Costs
Worker safety is the topmost priority for any organization, and effective training plays a big part in that. An enterprise augmented reality solution is one of the most effective training tools you can use. PTC measured 48% fewer safety incidents across their AR customers. More than video-based or print-based training methods, augmented reality engages the whole person and puts the user as close as possible to the real experience without the corresponding danger. More effective training leads to fewer accidents in the workplace and increased safety for workers.
Training scenarios can also be expensive to maintain. Between travel costs, maintaining dedicated training machinery, and setting up repeated training scenarios, enterprise AR solutions offer much in the way of cost savings. The virtual nature of AR means trainees can stay where they are and still receive effective training. Maintenance costs for dedicated training machinery is eliminated. And where real-life scenarios can be expensive to reset and repeat, AR is free to reset and repeat.
3. Make Better Decisions With Complex Information
Many organizational leaders are in a constant cycle of ingesting information and making decisions based on that information. And whether through spreadsheets, dashboards, or a CAD file, the information can be presented in a variety of ways that impact readability and understandability.
AR can make the information easier to understand by putting it directly in your line of sight. Imagine seeing a malfunctioning component highlighted in red instead of searching for the source of a beep. Or manipulating a representation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in front of you while you work on a vaccine. Instead of seeing Internet of Things (IoT) telemetry data for a manufacturing plant on a dashboard, see its digital twin in front of you with the data next to their components in 3D space.
When the manner of presentation steps aside, we're able to comprehend the situation more quickly and clearly, and better decisions come as a result. In AR, understanding the information isn't the focus—the solution is the focus.
4. Save Time Completing Infrequent Tasks
Some tasks are done every day in the same way. We learn their ins and outs, the most efficient way to do the task, and the ways it can vary from situation to situation. Take the example of working on an assembly line or a mechanic changing a tire. Other tasks are done only infrequently, as in repairing a piece of broken machinery on that assembly line or repairing a transmission. Unless you're doing those tasks every day, they'll take longer to complete—not necessarily by their nature, but by the worker's inexperience.
An enterprise AR solution can make workers more efficient at completing infrequent tasks by displaying virtual guides superimposed onto reality. Step by step, an AR solution can point to precisely which tools to use, where to investigate, and what to do to move on to the next step. Instead of frequently pausing to look at manuals, workers can see exactly what to do laid out in front of them. Instead of stepping away from the task to ask a colleague what to do next, users can see instructions superimposed on their workspace. In these ways, time is saved, and workers can more quickly return to the tasks in which they are experts.
What’s Next for Enterprise Augmented Reality?
We're only scratching the surface of what's possible with enterprise AR. As companies continue to adopt these solutions, we'll continue to see innovative ways to solve challenging problems. Through faster results, improved safety for workers, better decision-making, and saved time, enterprise augmented reality is already improving business processes. Leaders have many opportunities to explore how AR can help their businesses.
Looking to innovate with augmented reality? Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.