The popularity of Pokémon Go catapulted augmented reality (AR) into the public lexicon last year, but increasingly, companies are finding that AR and its close cousin virtual reality (VR) may have enterprise value that far outstrips its uses in gaming and entertainment.
According to Deloitte’s recently released “Tech Trends 2017” report, AR and VR simulations, coupled with data mined from the internet of things (IoT)–a triple-punch combo known as mixed reality–can be incredibly useful to businesses, helping to improve worker effectiveness, facilitating the sharing of knowledge between groups, transforming consumer engagement, and more.
“We think mixed reality should be on every executive’s radar–in training and education simulation, in field service and customer service, in collaboration,” says Deloitte Consulting LLP CTO Bill Briggs. Here are a few examples of how this emerging tech can be applied.
1. Enhanced employee onboarding and training
AR and VR aren’t just for brain-surgery prep and practice for other high-end, complex tasks. There is the potential to use the technology for a wide variety of simulated education sessions, from training factory workers, to those working on fast food assembly lines and beyond, explains Briggs. (What customer wouldn’t appreciate a more precisely assembled taco?)
By immersing employees in these realistic, virtual work environments and offering interactive problem-solving challenges, trainees are provided with “safe exposure to complex and potentially dangerous equipment and scenarios,” the report rationalizes. Plus, it gives supervisors the opportunity to better monitor progress and tailor lessons to individuals.
2. Customized operations
It’s in every company’s best interest to boost employee productivity and streamline work processes. Mixed-reality technologies can help achieve this by providing workers–such as field service technicians, warehouse pickers, and assembly-line workers–intelligent IoT devices with digital systems customized to the employee’s specific tasks, the report explains.
Briggs offers a few scenarios of this application, including the assembly of a wiring harness for a complex piece of equipment. “It could include tens of thousands of manual steps–very repetitive, but very precise,” he says. “You can use AR to guide that worker and capture the work that’s been done, applying machine intelligence behind it to enhance what the actual sequence should be. The work is more productive, the quality goes up, and you can rethink that entire, complex job.”
Or, Briggs continues, it can also be applied to guide repairs. “You can give someone a pair of smart glasses and, with remote instruction, the employee can make a repair that otherwise would have taken days if someone else had to travel to get there,” he says.
3. Enhanced communication and collaboration
Imagine being able to streamline work with teammates from across the globe, in any location at any time. Mixed reality can facilitate this kind of interaction, the report describes, by “replacing shared productivity tools with immersion and a sense of presence.”
What does this mean, exactly? Well, say you’re constructing a new building or manufacturing an automobile, says Briggs. “Historically, you have a hypothesis, you fabricate a prototype, manufacture it, and hope for the best.”
But by streaming data from IoT systems and employing AR simulations, you can remove the physical restraints of distance from the equation entirely and “walk through” a construction site with the architect, making design modifications in real time. “This isn’t just next year’s video conferencing, it’s literally the work we share, digital assets, as a team, distributed across the world,” Briggs says.
4. Elevated customer service, marketing, and shopping experiences
By leveraging VR capabilities in particular, mixed reality can elevate the level of customer engagement by providing them with experiences that mirror those of the real world. That means companies can put any number of “virtual products” into the hands of consumers and gather key data by guiding their experience, gauging their responses, and finally personalizing content based on purchasing history and preferences, the report maintains.
“It’s an interesting and powerful capability, how you can use it to really sell to a customer, especially for consumer products and leisure,” explains Briggs. “In these industries, it could be massive–redefining experiential marketing.”
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
This article was created for and commissioned by Deloitte Consulting LLP