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Augmented Reality: A New Workforce Mobilization Paradigm Using advanced forms of AR, diverse teams and disciplines can be brought together to ensure faster product realization and higher quality at reduced costs.


Executive SummaryInnovation is a constant in the information technology industry,

continuously changing the way services are delivered to the business

and to end users. From the mainframe era on to the Internet stage,

were now experiencing the fifth IT wave, an era in which social, mobile,

analytics and cloud (aka the SMAC Stack) are forming a new digital

foundation with which to power business. SMAC is already changing

how IT is being deployed across industries, and as business becomes

increasingly digital this new stack is expected to have a multiplying

effect on operational efficiency and productivity.1

Another constant throughout technologys swift progression is the

exponential growth in computer processing power and the steady

increase in the number of computing devices and users. Augmented

and virtual-reality-based hardware devices are part of this growing

computing base. They leverage advancements in mobile technology and

big data analytics to offer new communications channels for enterprise

applications. Augmented and virtual reality is converging with SMAC

and, as a result, businesses across multiple sectors are now able to tap

their vast potential to help users visualize data and instructions that

overlay physical assets in real time.

Imagine a worker who is on the factory floor conducting a routine

equipment check for preventive maintenance and inspection activities.

He comes across a piece of equipment and realizes that something has

changed in the way he typically interacts with it. Earlier, the worker used

to carry a heavy manual or rely on his supervisor to instruct and guide

him through the inspection, but now he is empowered with a technology


that helps him to uniquely interact with this piece of industrial

equipment. This technology augmented reality (AR) is being deployed

to more effectively mobilize workers across multiple industries.

According to Gartner research,2 AR is poised to become an important

workplace tool. AR technology has matured to a point where

organizations can use it as an internal tool to complement and enhance

key business processes, workflows and employee training. Visualization

of content is among the many important business innovations that AR

can facilitate.

Many companies are increasingly applying AR tools to create effective

training programs that drive employee engagement and success in

the highly competitive global marketplace. Also, some companies

manufacturing players among them are not just seeking cost

savings but also trying to gain effective, in-time and quality training

methodologies that do not interfere with company operations or its

technological evolution.

Since AR technology operates in a real environment and provides

computer-generated aids to enhance the real world, the technology is

well positioned to transfer skills across the organization to a far greater

extent than old-style training methodologies, such as paper-based

manuals and DVDs.

This white paper explores different uses of AR in workforce-intensive

business environments and how companies can leverage AR to set up

their workforce for success.


Prehistory, soon after invention of the sail.

~1900Horse carriages

1958 1970s 1974-8 1988 1992+ 1999 2006 Now 20??

Sutherland/Sprouil, 68:

1st HMDs

Sailboat tell-tales

Rear-view mirrors

First jet fighter heads-up display

Commercial aviation

U.S. DoD air-combat testing

First car HUD: Cutlass Supreme

Dedicated tools begin;ARToolkit


Augmented Environments,

sensor nets

UbiComp; Mark Weiser

Commercial helmet-mounted displays

Tom Caudell &

David Mizell

Hands-up displays

Context-aware software that learns you


Useful smart-phone ARNokias


Augmented Technology RevolutionAugmented reality provides information and entertainment that overlays on the physical world. The potential of augmented reality technology is wide but it remains in the development stage, with most potential applications bottled up in laboratories (see Figure 1 for a timeline). This technology has proved to be very comfortable and user friendly, as the hardware requirements to experience AR can be a smartphone or a tablet that users are familiar with. AR applications are not complicated to set up and, once installed, require minimal guidance.


Progress of Augmented RealityAugmented reality uses are diverse. Key workflows and applications that numerous companies have built on various platforms include:

Field service: Using AR technology, field service agents can access checklists and work manuals. With the help of wearable technology, they can interact hands-free. AR technology allows field service agents to interact with the system via voice and gesture commands, and with video and sharing support they can interact with other users to provide remote support.

Energy and utilities: Energy and utility companies are exploring novel ways AR can be used to transform their businesses. The areas include asset inspection, reading meters, monitoring tasks remotely, and health and safety. The goal is to ensure that the workforce is endowed with tools that provide appropriate situ-ational acumen and facilitate timely task completion.

Healthcare: AR technology helps users access medical records and important patient vitals. Nurses and clinicians can use AR technology to learn about upcoming surgeries, for modeling of organs and to explain medical procedures.


Figure 1

Augmented Reality Timeline


AR technology also can be used to conduct training sessions on body parts and functionalities for medical students. The personalization of healthcare is among ARs key value propositions.

Automotive: This industry has used AR technology for over 10 years to visualize technical information.

4 Progressive manufacturers are now exploring various

established use cases for AR such as factory planning, product visualization, worker support and customer support. Players such as Metaio (which has been acquired by Apple) are leaders in this field.

Industrial design: AR can help industrial designers experience a products design and operation before completion. Volkswagen, for example, uses AR for comparing calculated and actual crash test imagery.

5 AR can be used to visualize

a car body structure and engine layout. It can also be used to compare digital mock-ups with physical mock-ups for finding discrepancies between them.

In addition to the applications listed above, AR trials are multiplying in retail, education, tourism and gaming, (see Figure 2).

Augmented Reality for Workforce TrainingAR is considered a new experience for workforce training and development. Companies are increasingly deploying AR-based solutions and creating impactful training programs that improve employee engagement and productivity.

According to the American Society for Training and Development, investment in employee training enhances a companys financial performance. An increase of $680 in training expenditures per employee generates, on average, a 6% improve-ment in total shareholder return.


A Louis Harris and Associates poll reports that among employees with poor training opportunities, 41% planned to leave within a year. Only 12% planned to leave among those who considered their companys training opportunities to be excellent, resulting in a retention rate more than two-thirds higher than average companies.


AR Possibilities: Limited Only by Imagination

Field ServiceEnergy & Utilities

Healthcare Automotive

Industrial Design


Figure 2


Current Training MethodologiesTake an example of a classroom with 20 newly recruited manufacturing workforce members who are learning how to operate a machine. The trainer holds a 100-odd-page user manual that contains guidance on how to install, repair and uninstall a specific set of machine(s). Each machine part has umpteen procedures that must be followed; these instructions are verbally provided, with follow-up on-the-job training later on. The learning session is spread across multiple days, with a set of pages covered each day.

How many members of this team of 20 will understand what is being delivered and be able to apply it? Will the learning be uniform across the group? Will this learning instill confidence among the new workforce members as well as company managers responsible for their activities?

Todays workforce is a cross-generational blend, including older workers, baby boomers, gen X-ers and millennials, with differing workforce expectations and learning