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I Was Wrong: Seven Mistakes I Made with Assisted Reality

Kicking off a new career with a leap into the world of XR, industry newcomer Tim Taylor swiftly discovered there was more to Assisted Reality than meets the eye. Tim recently scribed his experiences in an awesome LinkedIn post which he has kindly allowed us to reproduce – thanks Tim!

I have been in the AR industry for all of 10 weeks now. What mistakes did I make coming into the industry? What have I learnt?

Jumping into a new industry is always going to be exciting, full of the unknown and rich with new possibilities and opportunities and it’s only human to make assumptions and jump in head first with natural preconceived ideas and notions. Diving into the AR world was exactly that experience for myself over the last 10 weeks, I’ve been excitedly impressed beyond words with the possibilities and potential which has only highlighted how wrong I was about a few things before immersing myself in the AR world with help and assistance from extremely experienced and smart industry experts.

1. I made the first mistake of assuming assisted Reality (aR) was brand new tech.

In hindsight, I feel like I was living under a rock for the last decade.

We’ve all heard of the term “smart glasses” and as a consumer, you tend to treat it like any emerging tech, you tend to wait until you see mass adoption before you really even give it the time of day. 

This human behaviour and mindset was my downfall. 

Assisted Reality has been making a positive impact and helping connect remote workers and front line workforce with industry experts for well over half a decade and the industry leaders in this space such as RealWear, Inc. and Vuzix Corporation have been leading the charge with development of the technology with consistent advances in the capability of the wearable devices. Capabilities of which, are rapidly changing and advancing the way in which front line work force and remote workers connect with subject matter experts across the globe. Business is faster than ever before.

2. I assumed that AR referred to only Augmented Reality (AR)

I had no idea how Assisted Reality (aR) was carving its own parallel unique path in history.

Again, my naivety or ignorance led me to believe that there was only one “AR” and that was Augmented Reality and my knowledge and experience in the space extended as far as Pokémon which the kids (and I) played back when the app was the latest fashion/experience for all a 2 second period. 

Fast forward, into my 10th week in the industry and my understanding and appreciation for both Augmented Reality (AR) and assisted Reality (aR), how they are differentiated, their individual value propositions and the potential for the future. I have been especially surprised with Assisted Reality in the workforce and how it has exploded, as I become more immersed in how Assisted Reality is truly impacting the workforce of today in such a positive way, increasing safety, reducing downtime, reducing costs, increasing productivity, and rapidly speeding up knowledge transfer. A very real example quantified here on a Wind Farm Case Study with Liebherr.

What is Assisted Reality (aR)? As explained perfectly in the above article by RealWear, Assisted Reality (aR) differs from Augmented Reality in a key way. Assisted Reality gives users access to relevant information in their immediate field of view (FoV), Augmented Reality uses computer-generated, digital content to create an interactive experience within real-world environments.

Augmented Reality does have amazing potential, however it may not be the best tool for every situation. This is especially true for digital transformations in industrial fields.

Workers need to be able to stay safe around workplace hazards when they access information. This could mean having both hands available to hold tools or secure equipment. Or, more importantly, not get distracted by computer-generated (3D) visuals (overlays) when they need to be aware of, and focus on, what’s truly in their immediate environment.

3. I made the wrong assumption that Assisted Reality (AR) was only cool, new and "nice to have" tech in industry.

Well, it is cool, it is newish, and it is definitely nice to have. What I was wrong about, was that the aR extends far beyond the “cool new tech” status as it has fast become widely adopted into industry as a staple and a must have for connecting workers. The technology in the wearable headset is one half of the value proposition. The software used in conjunction with the headset devices is where the real magic and connectivity happens. Coupled together, Assisted Reality is a game changer. aR is an asset which companies across the globe from aviation such as Airbus Helicopters and Singapore Airlines to ports, infrastructure, training organisations, construction companies, mining, oil & gas, medical, and many more are using daily to realise the full potential of their workforce. Keeping their knowledge in the minds of the current staff while keeping them safe and efficient.

4. I grossly underestimated the true value of Assisted Reality in the workplace.

Assisted Reality is two simple words that describe a functionality and value far beyond the simplicity of the words themselves. Some of the functionalities with Assisted Reality software (and the devices themselves) are easily overlooked as simple functions, yet in the environment of connecting a remote worker to an expert can be super useful. 

Functions such as:

Unrivalled Voice Activation and voice control. In an environment where the worker wearing the device is required to use two hands to perform a task, this simple function is absolutely crucial to their effectiveness and safety.

Noise Cancelling Microphones with such precision that the worker wearing the device in a noisy environment (even standing up next to an operating engine, industrial fan, or generator) can still effectively and coherently communicate, hands free with the expert on the other end of the call.

Ability to Annotate the ability for the expert potentially on the other side of the world working for Rolls Royce, to be able to annotate so precisely on images and display these directions onto the inclusive screen for the aircraft mechanic working on that aircraft on the opposite side of the world, to allow that mechanic to effectively, safely, and efficiently carry out that task or solve the problem.

To achieve this all within minutes, and without the requirement for across world travel or hours and hours of backwards and forward email trains trying to describe and illustrate, truly is game changing for so many industries. 

Every industry will move to include Assisted Reality into their staple asset register, it’s only a matter of time. Time to allow for mindsets more resistant to change to be succeeded by more open mindsets, open to new and better technologies.

5. I was wrong about the mindset of the remote worker and older demographics willingness to adopt AR tech into their work environment?

I came into this industry assuming the aging demographic would strongly resist change, strongly oppose the tech for fear of losing touch with the hands on, old school approach.

The reality is the large majority of industry experts across all sectors appreciate the rapidly increasing danger of losing knowledge. Knowledge Transfer has slowed to an alarming rate and “old school” experts are realizing the need to adapt and adopt new tech in order to rapidly catch up with the level of knowledge transfer required across their industry. Having come from the drilling industry myself, I can see already how knowledge is at risk of being lost and the pandemic with worldwide lockdowns only magnified the problem as planes became grounded and experts from across the globe ceased travelling, effectively shutting down the knowledge transfer that is so critical for the world to continue to evolve, for industry to continue to evolve.

6. I was naïve as to how fast the technology in the Assisted Reality space is developing, growing, and being accepted by the consumer world.

I was a fool for ever thinking that adoption would be slow. In a world where generations have evolved to exist with a fast-changing world and environment, it should be expected however I am impressed and amazed at the speed of which the tech is been improved upon and advanced. Software applications to support the tech are being developed at an amazing pace with tools and functionality that constantly raise the bar of standard acceptance in the industry, and as the tools of the trade become more and more useful and user friendly, the workforce is equally as fast at adopting and accepting the technology into their daily lives on the front line. 

Key stakeholders running companies across the globe are implementing this tech fast and quickly realising their ROI as they look to invest in their people’s future more than ever before. The surprise is how accepting the workforce is. Regardless of age and experience, there is a very real appreciation by the experienced workforce to be able to have the ability to transfer their knowledge at a faster more efficient speed than they have ever experienced. That will to see their knowledge transferred is dominating their hesitance to use new technology and the experienced workforce are embracing a more connected world with open arms, which is exciting to see and an amazing time in history to be alive and witness first hand.

7. I was wrong! I thought Assisted Reality was only useful in a handful of industries

When I first began to understand Assisted Reality, I only saw the potential in a handful of industries, industries I was closest too. As I have learned more and spoken to more industry experts, my eyes have opened to the true world of possibilities for Assisted Reality in connecting the workforce. I now understand the benefits that Assisted Reality represents, not only to a company’s bottom line, but their employees, the workforce and their health, safety, and speed of experience. There is a very definite, almost instant ROI and value proposition for Assisted Reality in almost every workplace environment. 

Almost every industry has a workforce that can benefit from having an instant connection to an open line of communication to an industry expert. I now find it hard to drive down any street without noticing these opportunities for companies to drastically improve their operations across the board with simple yet extremely effective Assisted Reality technology.

In conclusion:

We are all making mistakes daily and that’s how we most effectively learn and grow. My experience with aR is no different and my hope is that, through my learnings as fresh eyes coming into a new and exciting industry with my own experiences and history to taint my perceptions, I have at the very least provided you with a little insight into an amazing technology and its potential, and perhaps even inspired you to further your knowledge in this space as I am 99% certain you have a valuable ROI use case for Assisted Reality in your company and/or industry you represent.

I would love to know your thoughts on Assisted Reality.

If you have experience using assisted reality wearable devices, I would love to hear about your experiences?

You can find Tim’s original LinkedIn post here.

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