AR and VR Converge to Create a New Workplace

Ennui can set in at the workplace very often. No more. Virtual Reality is here to the rescue. The workplace will now be an innovative place. And by the looks of the initial experiments, the possibilities are limitless.

Leading companies of the world are looking to employ diverse talent from the comfort of their homes. With Virtual Reality it is possible for the employees to be where they are and still be present at the office. An employee sitting in the corporate office can now interact and collaborate with an employee sitting in a different continent as if he or she were sitting next to him.

Through VR, the office environment can be enhanced through computer generated and immersive techniques. This does not just make data easy to access and interpret but also fun in the way employees engage with it as well as each other. With augmented reality, computer generated images can be superimposed on the real-world view of the user, making the experience out-of-the-world. Some of the major vendors are Oculus, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung.

The workplace is changing

The dark ages are behind us and the information age is taking us by storm, in a good sense. Offices across the globe want to glean the benefits of virtual and augmented reality. The workplace will now offer their workforce what is known as true flexibility as technology makes it possible. Not only will collaboration become easier but hands free data access will also become possible. New workplace experiences are expected in the fields of training, design and field service.

The role of virtual and augmented reality is not limited to any one industry. A host of industries stand to benefit from their use. Roles as diverse as knowledge workers and factory managers will benefit from the use of these technologies. While a knowledge worker can view digital dashboards, a factory manager can monitor equipment health through digital overlays.

Companies with a vision want to use these technologies to overhaul the entire process of building, selling and servicing products. They do not wish to copy what has already been achieved with AR and VR technologies. They want to create their own methods of working using these technologies. Innovations are boundless and this can be seen in how Lowe’s is using the technology by letting its customers visualize their kitchen furnishings when they wish to remodel the same. Another example is that of Microsoft’s HoloLens and how ThysenKrupp is using it to visualize elevator repair before their technician reaches to repair it. The augmented reality overlays and guides help the technician while he is repairing the elevator.

While there may still years in the future until the full potential of virtual and augmented reality is revealed, companies and people have already started gaining from these technologies. This is true for most unveiled technologies such as HoloLens, Oculus and Vive. The latter two are available in the market at affordable rates while the former is still very expensive. Moreover, the full potential of HoloLens is still to be uncovered. Despite this, it is compatible with 2D Windows applications and several developers are discovering its remarkable 3D capabilities.

Microsoft’s HoloLens may have a lot in common with Google Glass which was launched way back in 2013 and lacked the software for optimal utilization of its potential. Even so, Google is not letting up and has its hands and feet deep in the development of augmented reality. Their release of Cardboard, a $15 VR headset, is testimony to the fact. The team at Google is also working hard to bring out the new version of Google Glass.

The benefits of augmented and virtual reality are not limited to flexibility with respect to remote working.  The benefits of these technologies can transcend physical barriers as the technologies can evoke empathy among employees. The technologies have been used by nonprofits to get donors or volunteers to participate in their programs. They can be similarly used by organizations to create empathetic scenarios for their customers. This will have immense benefits in terms of customer service costs. With lesser customer service costs, companies will have better service margins. This becomes possible because customers would be able to troubleshoot themselves with the help of augmented and virtual reality.

One more benefit of these technologies is faster development of future products as well as newer technologies. With the help of virtual prototyping, products can be developed faster. Companies like Boeing and Raytheon are already using this function of these technologies. At Raytheon, CAVE, a VR product simulation chamber is used by the engineers and designers to interact with the prototypes.

One of the major benefits coming to the workplace is the ease that VR and AR would bring to the marketing and advertising function. VR ads and other branded content are likely to take over the 2-dimensional advertising. The customer experience will be enhanced manifold and consequently, the likelihood of customer conversion will also increase.

However, every good thing may have repercussions too and the same may be true for virtual reality as well. Young workers, especially those who love to play videogames may drop out of the workforce. As per a study done by the Economist, there is a direct link between videogames and young professionals dropping out of the workforce. With VR videogames, this number may be likely to increase.

Apart from this one drawback most of the things associated with the impact of augmented and virtual realities on the workplace are positive. The new workplace is geared up for innovation and newness and employers and employees can both look forward to mutually beneficial relationships.



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