Augmented Reality (AR) | The Future of Work?

Augmented reality apps and technologies are likely to be a big part of a brighter future in our highly digital and consequently connected world. Learn more, today!
By: USF Health IS
TAMPA, Fla. - May 23, 2016 - PRLog -- What Is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented Reality a.k.a. AR s a huge buzzword for 2016, but not everyone can immediately make the connection and see it's potential; that is, until you remind them of the movies.

"AR adds contextual layers of information to our experiences in real time," (TechCrunch, Jan. 2016).

Remember, the scene from James Cameron's Avatar movie: When the main character, Jake Sully links up his mind to a giant, blue Na'vi body, leaving his wheelchair bound form behind to explore the lush, alien reality of Pandora for the first time. Well, the engineered Na'vi body is basically a sophisticated AR hardware kit, complete with one high quality headset (e.g. the engineered Na'vi's eyes). Who wouldn't want to explore that kind of technology?

Schools, offices, and homes can be transformed into interactive, changeable, digital spaces with modern AR hardware. Welcome to the future, a.k.a. The Matrix.

"Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one" (Wikipedia, Jan. 2016).

Related, Emerging Tech:
• Virtual Reality - Creates digital environments that can be similar to or distinct from reality
• Beacon Tech - Small, sticker-sized devices that can send info. to nearby smart devices
• Wearables - Smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.

How Can You Use Augmented Reality Tech?
For Students & Schools:
Teachers, Todd Nesloney and Drew Minock blogged that, "Educators know that learning deepens, not just through reading and listening, but also through creating and interacting. With Augmented Reality products like Elements 4D by Daqri, students manipulate and combine elements - like mercury - right from their Android or iOS devices, rather than just reading about them in a textbook. Other apps like Aurasma, allow users to engage in and create Augmented Reality experiences of their own" (Edutopia, Nov. 2013).

So, Augmented reality clearly has more potential applications than most of us can even imagine. Military, industrial, medical, commercial and entertainment industries have already begun to take advantage of the technology. Now imagine for a moment, what students working in an AR enhanced chemistry or math class (e.g. where many students struggle) would be capable of building and demonstrating for the future. We already have apps that allow kids to use toy blocks, which when viewed through AR headsets will display the names of various elements and how they would realistically interact when combined (#InnovativeEducation, anyone?). Given necessary financial support, the education sector should be able to follow along and produce a generation of individuals that are as familiar with AR, as previous groups have been with television and the world wide web.

For Professionals & Workplaces:
Wondering about how this might apply to your professional life? There's an AR app for that, too. "Many businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, have begun implementing pilot schemes involving employees using augmented reality technology in the workplace, according to Brent Blum, Wearable Lead for Accenture. He added that the last three to four months have seen these companies returning some promising results" (IT Pro, Mar. 2015).

Profound learning and innovation occurs when individuals are granted opportunities to contemplate, create, collaborate and explore within environments that are not just ideal for productivity but also inspiring. This is where the potential of AR technology becomes invaluable for students, professionals and individuals, everywhere.

"Your business over the coming years is going to have to change and react to this new form of user interface technology. Either immersive technology is on the horizon, or someone is already contemplating bringing a headmounted display into the office to see what can be done with it," reported Gartner analyst, Brian Blau (TechRepublic, Oct. 2015).

Reported Benefits of AR Technology
So we know that AR is both fascinating and popular for individuals and businesses, alike. But is all this hype enough to consider the investment? Furthermore, is there even sufficient support in the computing hardware community to warrant the use of AR? In short, yes. This is one area where economic growth is expected. This is especially true for those that choose to purchase their AR hardware from known, tech heavyweights (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook). As one report from Fortune detailed, "Upcoming augmented reality devices like Microsoft's HoloLens, which combines virtual objects with the real world through high-tech glasses, are forecast to become a $120 billion business by 2020. That's four times more than the $30 billion business virtual reality will generate in the same five year span" (Fortune, Apr. 2015).

But you don't have to place all of your bets on the most obvious tech juggernauts. "There's also the looming presence of the notoriously quiet augmented reality startup Magic Leap, which received a massive investment from Google. Facebook's Zuckerberg explained, 'If you think about phones, it's still a little awkward to take it out of your pocket. In the future, if you want to look around you should be able to look around. If you want to select something, you should be able to look at it'" (TechCrunch, Oct. 2015).

We have to keep pushing the boundaries of education and exploration in order to produce solutions, not just for our workplaces but for our increasingly digital and consequently, connected world. Augmented Reality technology is likely to be a big part of a brighter future in that shared world.

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USF Health IS
Elyse Lewis
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