Hands-Free Resources: How Businesses Are Using AR to Make Workplaces Safe and Productive

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The role of efficiency and ease in the modern world has become forefronted when it comes to technology, particularly in the workplace. As the pandemic has shown, working from home or working within a hybrid model has proved to provide the functionality with a business needs without the cost of an at-capacity office. 

Statistics have shown that most people would prefer working from home, aka wfh, or within a hybrid model following the relaxation of lockdown rules, which shows how the world of work and the expectations of employees has now changed. 

Source: Statista

Just as the working environments of people have changed so have the tools to accommodate this. Businesses are using AR to make workplaces safe and productive by tapping into the hands-free resources that are available to employers. Virtual and augmented reality is a way to make communication and work action possible away from the office and is something that is most certainly on the cards for companies that can work remotely in a successful way.

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What is Augmented Reality?

The concept of augmented reality has been existent and prominent in the gaming world but is still very much in its infancy when being applied to everyday life. Many wearables and mobile devices can house Augmented reality applications and software and this, in turn, can be utilised in a remote working world

It allows users to superimpose imagery and graphics onto the real world, almost combining the two. From giving virtual tours to smart eyewear it can give the illusion of real-life without the hassle of actually going to said destination. Virtual reality is very much separating the real world and the virtual one, however, both augmented reality and virtual reality have a place in the remote working world.

Augmented reality allows people to process the physical and digital world at the same time, which eliminates a lot of the guesswork you might find in simply trying to explain something to someone. This type of digital technology can potentially bridge the gap between not being in the office and being at home and workplace training. It can provide a platform of convenience and can inherently improve a user’s understanding of something which in turn will result in a stronger team. Virtual technology and augmented reality can work hand in hand with each other when trying to create a hands-free working environment.  

Virtual Communication 

The reliance on virtual communication has never been more apparent than in the last year. The use of video conferencing and video calling has not only been used as a personal mode of communication and connection but also in the professional work environment. The dependency of virtual communication sits parallel with the reliance on remote workers. Services such as Zoom and Skype have allowed the business to continue as effectively as possible without real-life contact.

These video conferencing tools can also be used to interview potential candidates and employees without the need for them to come in. This could increase the number of candidates that get facetime and how many people you get to interact with in comparison to the number of people you would normally see in a structured office day.

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Just as technology evolves, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the use of augmented reality and virtual reality replace video conferencing in the future. With the use of headsets and the development of smart eyewear, the possibility for users to virtually ‘sit’ in an office meeting is not a far off reality. Although this type of technology being used in the workplace is still very much in its infancy, it is already a technology that is heavily used in the gaming world and for recreational purposes.

Human Machine Interfaces 

The use of self-checkouts and using machines to place orders at restaurants is not a new phenomenon, but the use of human-machine interfaces is technology that doesn’t place all the reliance on machines. Augmented reality can help improve efficiency and still give the feel of real-life interaction. 

The human-machine interface goes hand in hand with virtual communication and can equip employees to streamline their day to day tasks. For example, nurses and medical staff can use AccVein’s augmented reality tool that aids vein location. Not only does this augmented reality tool improve the efficiency of this role in particular, but can protect the employees from making mistake.

Safety Training 

It is not a novelty to have to go through some kind of health and safety training in some form. Whether that be video training or audio, this is more often than not done virtually unless it is an absolute necessity. The use of augmented reality and virtual reality has been seen to be used in the building industry to improve workplace safety. Tom Wilkerson is the founder of CerifyMe has said that virtual forklift training mirrors a hands-on experience without the risk of the workers or the equipment being damaged. 

The use of hands-free workplace safety training not only removes the dangerous aspects of on-site training but can also save time and money in the long run. The initial investment may seem costly, but can actually aid business growth and allow for faster onboarding. Of course, these technologies are still in the development phase, but it can allow for a larger scope for employment and reach out to more people.

With regards to the risk that comes with hands-on workplace training, the opportunity to perform certain tasks and activities could be greatly reduced without the use of virtual reality software. It provides the opportunity to participate in more risky operations before attempting to conduct that task in real life.

Virtual Travel and Tours

The travel industry came to a halt during the lockdown period and this wasn’t only for leisure but for professional ventures. The Apple Conference was virtual during 2020 and again this year, this has made it more accessible than ever. Not having to travel to the USA made the conference more global and in turn, will be seen more and more in the workspace. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is very much still being navigated and developing and is currently being utilised within the hotel and property space. 

By utilising the potential that virtual reality has, hotels can show upcoming developments, new suites and their services with an ‘in real life feel’ without the customer and the user having to be there to experience that. This use would create workplace stability and in turn encourage bookings, a try before you buy without any real-life resources being used or staff time being wasted. 

Just as with phone games, hotels and properties can host feature events without actually having to host a live event. This is once again cost-cutting and saves resources and potentially the well being of staff. As the adoption of both augmented reality and virtual reality is becoming more and more popular, the necessity of a real-life presence will decrease and in turn, open up the possibilities to experience and view opportunities that may otherwise be inaccessible.

Reducing the Skills Gap

The employment market is not in the most abundant state at the moment, and during the time that people were at work doesn’t always equate to an evolution of skill set. Even with the pandemic employers can use augmented reality and virtual reality as a means of training and allowing people to expand their skill set all from home. Traditional learning doesn’t necessarily have to be in a classroom anymore and with the use of remote and virtual methods, the skills gap can be reduced and create more viable candidates for different roles. 

With many manufacturing companies having to have closed during the pandemic, using the virtual tools available, a new team can be trained even whilst working from home, making them ready and trained to enter the workforce. The future of a staff member’s career could lie in the success of using augmented reality and virtual technology. 

Customer Experience 

The use of hands-free virtual and augmented reality in the workplace does not only provide a more streamlined workplace for employees, but is a tool to enhance customer experiences. From the use of videoconferencing technology to the utilisation of virtual reality headsets, customer experiences are heightened, and more accessible to different types of customers. 

Offering an experience that adds and provides the typical browsing experience, can only be heightened by the use of virtual reality and with augmented reality, there are features that you can use to create a crossover between reality and virtual.

The resources that businesses are using within the technology space can only aid the evolution of virtual and augmented reality software to become the norm and enhance the worker experience. From uncompromising safety, to increasing the scope of employability a hybrid working environment can only be encouraged. It will most certainly be of interest to see how the working space will continue to develop and change in the future.

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