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How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are Disrupting the Enterprise

March 27, 2019

Digital transformation has come in several waves of technological innovation up to this point mostly based on technologies such as cloud computing and mobility and increasingly on the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. The next wave of massive disruption in the enterprise may come from Augmented and Virtual Reality systems as these two technologies offer new capabilities to the enterprise. Remote working, digital twins, paperless environments and hands-free working environments are just some of the applications that are transforming enterprises as VR and AR hardware and software becomes both more intelligent and more cost effective. Below are listed some examples of industries currently being disrupted by VR and AR technology:

Virtual Reality for Retail in the USA

The retail sector is another industry which has very high demand for corporate training services, which often need to be constantly performed due to high turnover in the sector. As such, companies such as Walmart are turning to Virtual Reality in order to provide better enterprise training solutions for their staff. Walmart has purchased over 30,000 VR headsets to provide over 1 million employees access to virtual training. The company is currently using VR to train staff to use new equipment. For example, when the company rolled out new e-commerce self-pickup lockers in its stores a VR program was used in order to train staff on the new equipment before the physical locker arrived at the store, saving a significant amount of time and eliminating the need for a person to physically train employees in the store. VR can also easily facilitate training in a multi-language environment which is an issue in many countries.

Virtual Reality for Banking in France

French bank BNP Paribas has experimented with Virtual Reality to show how the technology will disrupt the current retail banking industry. The company has created an application which allows customers to access their account activity in a virtual environment. The application also has e-learning functions such as walking a customer through the process of securing a home loan with VR. This application gives a glimpse of the future where physical bank locations can be substituted with virtual ones. This would solve a huge problem for banks, many of which are struggling to maintain a large volume of brick-and-mortar locations. By converting to a virtual solution banks would be able to interact with a bank from any location at any time of day, and banks could significantly lower real estate, building and staffing costs.

Virtual Reality for Healthcare in Canada

Healthcare is also an industry which faces constant pressure to become more cost and time efficient and hence is embracing Virtual Reality in order to provide cheaper and more time efficient training for surgeons. At the University of British Columbia in Canada medical students are receiving training on how to perform orthopedic surgery in a VR environment. VR is a more effective way of teaching students to perform surgeries as it eliminated the bottleneck of having to view procedures performed on live patients. The advanced software being used can also provide individualized feedback and a student’s performance can be scored and repeated easily.

Augmented Reality for Logistics in Germany

Logistics is one of the industries which is rapidly adopting new technologies in order to keep pace with an increasing demand for parcel delivery due to the massive global growth in e-commerce. As such German logistics company DHL has been deploying Augmented Reality smart glasses in its warehouses in order to make its operations more efficient. By giving its staff smart glasses, workers are able to perform “Vision Picking” where order instructions are displayed in a worker’s field of view and providing directions to a parcel’s location. By using Augmented Reality, workers are able to operate in a hands-free environment and the need to process paper records is eliminated. DHL’s internal trials have shown that worker efficiency can be improved by 15% by using Augmented Reality.

Augmented Reality for Airport Management in Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport is often cited as one of the world’s best airports and is seeing passenger demand increase every year. In order to maintain a high level of quality, the airport as started implementing Augmented Reality services in order to increase the efficiency of its operations. In one recent example, the airport has started giving Augmented Reality smart glasses to its baggage-handling employees. Employees use these smart glasses are able to scan QR codes on baggage and cargo containers to instantly know weight and unit data. This process replaces the traditional paper and handheld radio system in use today. Changi Airport believes that by using Augmented Reality they can cut the loading time needed for an aircraft from 60 minutes down to 45 minutes.

Augmented Reality for Public Security in China

Public safety and security services have long used biometric recognition with CCTV cameras in order to identify potentially dangerous people and situations. But Augmented Reality is now maturing to the point where such technology can be used on a portable device such as smart glasses. For example, in China public security agencies in major cities such as Beijing are now using Augmented Reality smart glasses. These glasses can reference the government’s national database of suspected criminals, which give law enforcement officials considerably more flexibility as opposed to stationary cameras.

What Does the Future Hold for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in the Enterprise?

Going forward, VR and AR adoption is set to increase both in more industries and in a wider variety of use cases. Hardware still is still somewhat of a limiting factor as battery, storage and computational capabilities of devices is still in its infancy. Software development is also still very limited and can be a key challenge for enterprises. This is expected to change in the coming years, however, especially with the advent of 5G networks, improved AI and better imaging technologies. The combination of these three technologies will lead to a new era of virtual technology use in the enterprise.

Selected Sources:

https://blog.walmart.com/innovation/20180920/how-vr-is-transforming-the-way-we-train-associates

http://www.bnpparibas.jp/en/2017/05/30/bnp-paribas-contributing-to-the-development-of-virtual-reality/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/how-a-vancouver-company-is-taking-the-future-of-surgical-training-virtual-1.5049538

https://www.logistics.dhl/global-en/home/press/press-archive/2017/dhl-supply-chain-makes-smart-glasses-new-standard-in-logistics.html

https://www.vrfocus.com/2018/10/vuzix-recieves-follow-on-order-for-smart-glasses-at-changi-airport/

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Chinese-startup-makes-facial-recognition-glasses-for-police

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