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May 02, 2023 04:05 AM

Workplace of the Future: The Impact of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Related Technologies

Workplace of the Future: The Impact of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Related Technologies

Extended reality is one of the biggest phrases in the tech world, and for good reason. XR technology is fast growing, and quickly becoming an integral part of the workforce. The impact of augmented reality, virtual reality, and similar technologies are creating the workplace of the future by streamlining standard operating procedures, increasing customer engagement, and automating work previously done by humans. Furthermore, businesses using augmented and virtual reality for training purposes are creating a higher level of productive and efficient employees, enabling them with confidence and better memory capabilities than ever before.

The Abilities of AR, VR, and AI

Extended reality has many benefits inherent in the technology. For instance, the ability to retain information is heightened because of the experiential way that training and education happens withing a virtual or augmented environment. When put into a simulated environment, the user isn't just experiencing information in a passive way. Instead, they're absorbing the information and using it actively within the simulation. Essentially, they're using the information in a direct way that connects the memory pathways in their brain, enabling them to internalize and remember the information better, for longer.

Other benefits of using XR technology for business training include:

- Improved on-the-job performance

- Decreased number of human error instances

- Learning retention improvements

- Improved teamwork, collaboration, and collective decision making

The Need for Technology Adaptation in Business

The main reason that businesses need to adapt to changing technology is because technology is always improving. There are new iterations of old technology meant to benefit the world at large, and those forward thinkers who adapt early on and use XR technology in innovative ways are one step ahead. Other reasons why technology adaptation in business is necessary include:

Customer Reach- In order to find lasting success in business, marketing strategies must be used where the customers are. With the increase of VR and AR use cases, it stands to reason that more and more people are using the technology for personal reasons, and meeting the customer where they're at (i.e. in the virtual realm) is a critical part of business success.

Increased Security Outcomes- Using virtual reality for security training, companies can train managers in realistic scenarios to help them take care of their employees in case of a robbery. In addition to this, these simulations train the manager to remain level headed, and identify key details like the color of shoes, hair, and other makers to help in potential investigations. The realistic simulation helps the employee learn to handle high risk scenarios in a low risk setting to help them gain confidence.

Reallocation of Human Expertise- Not every task is dependent upon human expertise. In some use cases, handing off the job of training, or maintenance to a simulation can help the trainee learn better while allocating human expertise in an area that can actual benefit from their involvement. For instance, using virtual simulations to teach standard operating procedures to onboarding employees frees up the overseer and their time, allowing them to focus their effort on other parts of the business that benefit from their presence.

Increased Collaboration in a Virtual Environment- Collaboration is key in creating efficient business processes, and collaborating in a virtual environment for certain aspects of business is an excellent way to streamline the process. For instance, in manufacturing, designing a product can often take time, money, and resources that aren't entirely necessary. Collaborating within a virtual environment eliminates the materials for design, the time spent in emailing and phone calls, and in decision making and reworking of paper designs.

Faster Maintenance with Industrial XR- For industrial purposes, maintaining equipment and repairing items can take time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. Using VR and AR applications to help maintain equipment lengthens the lifespan of the equipment itself, reduces downtime where the equipment is concerned, and reallocates the expertise of maintenance workers to places that need their attention more.

Product Demos and Customer Education- Using VR, and AR to demonstrate products and educate customers in items they're interested in help them make better decisions and enhance the capabilities and extend the lifespan of their product. Using an AR application to put together an Ikea desktop, or example, is vastly more in depth than simple paper instructions because of the experience of using the product or seeing it firsthand.

AR and VR Use Cases in the Workplace

In a panel discussion at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in which several tech experts spoke with Laura Fay on the impact of XR and related technologies in the workplace, Derek Belch, CEO of Striver Labs responded to an audience question.

The question stated "When it comes to VR training session, could you walk us through what that experience is actually like...?"

In response, Belch relayed a use case scenario in Wal-Mart in which employees are tasked with setting up towers in-store so that people who ordered online could walk up to the tower and grab their items. The issue faced in the set up of these towers was that normally, a launch coach is required to stay on site to help with the install. Using VR to train the employees, however, enables the launch coach to move onto the next site, leaving the tower install in capable hands. An employee would use the tower training experience in VR to learn how install the tower, and if they couldn't remember a specific step, they could return to the VR simulation and relearn the technical aspects.

Using VR for installation purposes doesn't necessarily eliminate the need for the launch coach, but instead reallocates them to an area in which a human is more important.

In the medical field, immersive technologies are improving patient care in the operating room, and as a standard procedure. In the same vein as product demonstrations, surgeons can be very specific with the patient in regard to their impending surgery, its outcomes, specific care needs, and symptoms to keep track of in the healing process. Patients and care takers can also use VR simulations to care for the surgical site before taking care of the actual wound post-operation to help eliminate any uncertainty and improve patient outcomes.

For surgical outcomes, virtual reality is creating more confident surgeons who have more practice in the simulated operating room. From a checklist perspective, surgeons who use AR and VR to walk through the organs they're operating on can profoundly change the way surgery is performed today. From a customer care perspective, the implications of VR in surgery can branch out into any industry.

Augmented and virtual reality are creating the workplace of the future and XR technology development has already helped critical global businesses ensure lasting success. Extended reality can help train employees, allocate human resources to where they need to be, reach customers in meaningful ways and demonstrate products in a more efficient manner. Using the analytic information gained from VR and AR use in marketing helps create better strategy and meet customers where they're at. Very steadily, virtual and augmented reality has become mainstream, and given us the potential to see the workplace of the future today.

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