16 December 2019

Technologies will see wider adoption in the next few years, and this deployment could change processes and operations in many different fields.

AR and VR usage is still at the niche stage despite the efforts of big tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google, which have been pouring billions into research.

Predictions are that 23.5 million jobs worldwide will be using AR and VR by 2030 – about 27 times more than currently. As the economy grows more productive thanks to both technologies, just as many jobs will go through fundamental shifts.

It starts with training the workforce. By creating digital versions of particular scenarios, explains the report, AR and VR will effectively let employees improve their skills in a fast, cost-effective, and safe way.

Some enterprises are already applying the technologies to their training processes. Software services company PTC, for example, sells a program that uses AR to "capture" the expertise of experienced workers, and then present it to recruits.

Dubbed Vuforia Expert Capture, the program lets experts record a task as they carry it out through a wearable device, such as Microsoft's HoloLens. The content is then turned into a step-by-step video with voice instructions for other workers to copy via an AR interface.

PTC says that Vuforia Expert Capture will be particularly useful in alleviating the workforce skills gap looming over the manufacturing sector.

The Manufacturing Institute predicts that millions of manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the next decade, a problem which will be exacerbated by the fact that new workers will not have the level of expertise to match those retiring from the workforce. PTC claims that its AR training service can lead to up to 50% faster technician training time.

AR and VR will affect workers at all stages of the career ladder, as the technologies change processes within the enterprise, ranging from design to operations and through marketing and sales.

For example, AR platforms can provide repair diagrams to engineers, so that they can identify problems before conducting maintenance operations; designers can use AR to draw, inspect, and test 3D prototypes.

In manufacturing, AI platforms can show instructions on how to operate machinery or assemble parts, on how to repair or perform upkeep; they can also inform workers on quality reports and real-time performance.

Crucially, all this information can be seen by workers hands-free, by wearing smart glasses rather than consulting a laptop – a feature that comes in handy for factory operators running between workstations, production lines and other machinery.

Some of the biggest challenges to the adoption of the technologies may be cultural.

To overcome the distrust of new technologies, businesses should, therefore, support and reassure learners through short and impactful VR and AR sessions.


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