Augmented and virtual reality will play a key role in the digital transformation of a growing number of enterprises across all sectors
Nick Cherukuri, founder and chief executive officer of ThirdEye, identifies three key trends he believes are driving enterprise adoption of augmented reality and virtual reality technologies
Augmented and virtual reality technologies are making inroads in the enterprise market, helping organisations improve processes, connect remote workers, enhance safety and deliver training.
Industries from healthcare to manufacturing to construction and many more are using the technology to create a more immersive and engaging work environment that improves business performance.
Enterprise adoption of these technologies ramped up during the pandemic as companies implemented digital transformation initiatives to support business continuity.
This adoption is expected to continue to accelerate in tandem with trends, including growing comfort levels with augmented and virtual reality technologies, increased convergence of physical assets into digital assets and integration of 5G.
Fuelled by these trends, augmented and virtual reality will play a key role in the digital transformation of a growing number of enterprises across all sectors. Consulting firm Deloitte predicts that “led by purchases by corporations and educational institutions, sales for enterprise and educational use of wearable headsets for VR, AR, and MR—collectively known as XR or digital reality—will grow by 100% in 2021 over 2019 levels.”
IDC also projects growing investment in augmented and virtual reality technologies, forecasting worldwide spending on them to accelerate out of the pandemic, growing from just over $12 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024.
Growing comfort level
The rise of augmented reality on smartphones and tablets with the advent of ARCore and ARKit allows millions of people to experience this immersive technology on these devices for the first time. Increasing familiarity with the technology boosts usage comfort level, which, in turn, will help normalise the technology in the enterprise market
Advancements in the design of augmented and virtual reality glasses are also driving enterprise adoption of these solutions. Sensors and processing power are becoming more powerful and battery life is improving. Additionally, the form factor is shrinking, making the glasses lighter and allowing them to be worn comfortably for longer periods.
The comfort level with how these technologies perform in the enterprise market is also increasing their adoption. Use cases across industries demonstrate the power of augmented and virtual reality to deliver better training, enhance collaboration, and enable remote assistance and guided workflows to increase productivity, accuracy and effectiveness.
Physical assets are increasingly being converted into digital assets
The evolution of augmented reality technology to make it easier to converge physical assets into digital assets also increases enterprise adoption of this immersive technology. Smart glasses featuring 3D SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping) technology capture real-world objects and turn them into 3D CAD (computer-aided design) models.
Augmented reality tools with SLAM technology use two greyscale cameras to generate 3D scans of real objects that can be projected in the glasses’ field of view. Using augmented reality tools such as object overlay, users can annotate 3D instructions onto these files for informational and training purposes.
With this technology, the glasses can also take screenshots and enlarge images for better visibility and allow users to open and view documents via voice command, keeping their hands free while working on tasks.
Integration with 5G
The addition of 5G mobile edge computing into augmented and virtual reality glasses provides a much larger bandwidth and lower latency, allowing for more data to be transferred at a higher speed. As 5G technology makes real-time digital interactions using immersive technologies faster, more mobile and more reliable, wider enterprise adoption of these technologies will follow suit.
A PwC report on how virtual reality and augmented reality are transforming business and the economy noted that “the gigabit per second speeds promised by 5G networks will almost certainly benefit VR and AR through reduced latency, delivering a smoother, richer and more engrossing user experience. 5G will also mean headsets are no longer as reliant on built-in processing or storage, likely bringing down cost and enabling more user-friendly designs. That processing and storage will be pushed to the cloud instead.”
5G integration will also improve hands-free interaction and communication in all industries—especially allowing workers in remote areas to receive remote help from anywhere, including locations without WiFi. 5G coupled with augmented reality glasses will enable field workers, for example, to live stream video or live 3D models and directly interact with surrounding objects or digital information placed in their field of view.
The PwC report highlighted that augmented and virtual reality will deliver a $1.5 trillion boost to the global economy by 2030. This number includes potential boosts to GDP of $359.4 billion in product and service development, $350.9 billion in healthcare, $294.2 billion in development and training, $275 billion in process improvements, and $204 billion in retail and consumer.
Growing comfort levels with augmented and virtual reality technologies, increasing convergence of physical assets into digital assets and the integration of 5G are three trends accelerating the adoption of these immersive technologies in the enterprise market.
As enterprise adoption of augmented and virtual reality increases, so too does the potential to deliver gains in efficiency, productivity, and effectiveness to fuel the economy.
Images: ThirdEye and Canva