Mixed reality suitable for business

June 11 2019 Jutta Rahenbrock

It’s not even three years ago since Pikachu, Caterpie, Raticate and their friends were the names on everyone’s lips, and on their smartphones. Pokemon Go provoked a rampant augmented reality (AR) fever in Germany. People left their living rooms, waved their smartphones in the air, met up at pokestops and caused the whole platform to crash.
It is success stories like Pokemon Go that get collaboration experts dreaming about gamification elements. Tedious conference call? Maybe not – if you can be the lead actor in a live business movie.

Augmented reality as a gamification element

AR can actually enhance typical online or video conferences with new functions that make it easier to collectively develop results. Just imagine a world where an online conference was about more than just presenting and discussing a Powerpoint. The presenter has to carry out the (opaque and incomprehensible) instructions of the other person on the slide being discussed in real time. How much simpler would it be if the other person could do that themselves? And not with a mouse, with their fingers. Texts could be added or corrected by voice recognition. It remains to be seen whether this would make the results better. But there’s no doubt that interaction would be more agile. And possibly more entertaining.

Mixed reality – the current term used for the wealth of different reality enhancing or replacement fantasies – sorry, I mean technologies – demonstrates its strengths most effectively where people have to collaborate intensively over long distances.

Augmented reality in service

A typical example, which we come across increasingly frequently, is support and service activities. Instead of experts having to travel all over the globe, for example to resolve problems on machines or to carry out maintenance work, mixed reality enables them to travel virtually to other continents in seconds to provide last level support. The AR goggles give the expert in Germany a direct view of the affected machine and they instruct the “hands” and “eyes” on site to carry out the repair as though they were actually there (current operating data comes from the back-end in Germany – see blogpost). The advantages are clear – the service engineer can carry out two or three repairs (rather than one) in a day and then spend the evening at home on the sofa (of course they can work from there too) and both companies save a huge amount on travel costs. The business case is very positive. Augmented/mixed reality functions are also conceivable in projects that generally involve building, designing, or positioning things. This is something that has not yet come about in the case of wearables like smart watches and fitness bands, despite the great initial expectations. In spite of huge sales figures for wearables overall (27.5 percent rise in 2018 to 172 million units) they have not yet made a breakthrough in the business market. Maybe they don’t offer enough added functionality (see networkworld).

Let’s imagine that Arthur Hailey was familiar with AR goggles back in 1956. His book “Runway Zero Eight” (you know the story – pilots with food poisoning etc.) and subsequent film adaptations would have been inconceivable. Any old passenger could have taken control and landed the aircraft safely with instruction from an experienced pilot in the nearest tower. These days, the kit could even be enhanced with a pair of gloves that help when moving the appropriate levers. It’s a fantastic money saving idea for airlines … autonomous aircraft with passenger self service control …

I’m curious to know whether I’ll have the chance to experience an augmented reality conference in my career. But if you’re ever looking for people to take part in a test – I’ll be there. There’s something truly thrilling about the thought of being there even though I’m somewhere else entirely.

About the author

Jutta Rahenbrock

Manager Product Marketing, T-Systems International

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