Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How Augmented Reality Can Save Jobs

With the rise in groundbreaking technologies like augmented reality, or AR, many industries fear the displacement of human workers to make way for digital solutions. However, if history is any precedence (e.g. inventions like the printing press, smartphone, and Internet), the advantages enjoyed from such developments not only outweigh the negatives, but also rarely act as a complete replacement for real manpower. 

All the complaints surrounding technology displacing workers, especially in Silicon Valley, should also be regarded in terms of skillset. The number one reason jobs remain unfilled today is due to lack of experience, with lack of hard and soft skills also ranking within the top five most influential reasons for vacancies. 

In order to address the growing need of more skilled and technology-adept employees, AR applications for work can be just the tool needed to complement human workers. With applications that range from training to enhancing safety on the job, AR technologies can help to solve the conflict between unfilled positions and frustrated people searching for jobs. 

What AR Does
Unlike virtual reality, which puts the user in an entirely unfamiliar environment, augmented reality overlays artificial elements over a real-life setting. Essentially, it enhances the world around you. 

The first example of AR becoming popularized in consumer culture was Pokemon Go. Using just a smartphone, users were able to see Pokemon characters dotting the landscape in front of them through their phone’s screen. This game not only made augmented reality an accessible concept to the masses, but also initiated the development of other AR hardware. Creating unique AR devices can allow the technology to be applied to a variety of industries and effectively help a wider range of employees and enterprises. 

Using Augmented Reality for Training
AR technology provides a means of experiential teaching. Instead of risking the disassociation that often occurs between learning in a classroom and learning on the job, AR allows employees to learn as they work. 

One way this is being accomplished in the robotics sector is by having workers wear AR glasses as they go through training. When working with a new device or machine, the glasses provide an overlay of instruction and information to the user. They can be shown precisely what to do while actually performing the action, instead of learning about what to do hours or days prior to experiencing it. This means that people can quickly pick up and carry out complex work assignments without need to costly or overly complex training, transferring knowledge from experience workers to new hires more efficiently than ever before.

AR for Enterprises
The repeated processes and assembly line-like structure of enterprise manufacturing demands a different solution from AR. It essentially comes down to scaling augmented reality technology and ensuring it applies to all realms of the business. 

In order to accomplish this feat, AR developers must consult with enterprises closely to design solutions that are user-friendly, accomplish the task at hand, and can be measured for continued improvement new applications. Establishing a system by which AR can be adapted for the user and industry is essential.

Augmented reality still has a ways to go before it is implemented on a mass scale for businesses. Already, however, its applications within enterprises and occupations for training employees, enhancing communication, and boosting efficiency are noteworthy. AR may be just the solution we need to fill the void of skilled workers and provide jobs to those searching.

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