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Augmented Reality - Is the Future Finally Here for Business?

Is 2015 the year of augmented reality?

16Feb

When people think of augmented or virtual reality, they generally tend to think of the Oculus Rift or similar headgear. So far the uses seem to have been based around gaming or general entertainment, outside of these people are yet to see the major benefits that this could potentially bring.

But what are these benefits and who is using them?

Firstly, one of the biggest benefits that this kind of technology could have is in driving, this is simply to allow much of the display that you need to look down to view, to be available where you are looking.

Jaguar have been experimenting with this kind of work with HUD (Heads Up Display) technology to both help drivers with the basic revs, speed and gear as well as more complex aspects. This includes options for racing drivers, to help them hit the correct lines on a track or even just train against themselves using ‘ghost cars’ which project where you were on the previous lap onto your windscreen.

There are other practical uses within actual business situations too.

Take DHL as a prime example.

They recently completed an experiment using smart glasses and augmented reality to help with warehouse processes. It allowed members of staff to see their tasks as they were working, assign orders simply by looking at them and get information on products from focussing their vision at them.

According to DHL it was a success, but we await to see if this will go beyond the initial three week trial period.

But these seem limited.

A three week trial and a windscreen that can show your speed are unlikely to set the world alight.

What will, is investments in companies whose core function is within this area.

Step in the secretive, but recently $2 billion valued company, Magic Leap.

Magic Leap claims to create ‘cinematic reality’ but little else about what they do is in the public domain. Despite this they received around $500 million of funding in October 2014. This came from some of the biggest investors within tech including Google, Andreessen Horowitz and Vulcan Capital.

The size of investment alone is enough to get people talking about the potential for the technology, the fact that it is some of the biggest names within technology investment putting in the money shows that this is a real viable product.

The company itself is incredibly secretive about what they do and have made some unconventional hires, like a science fiction writer as their head futurist. The CEO, Rony Abovitz had his opportunity to explain what his company did at a TED event in December 2012, but instead had men dressed as monkeys dance and fight on stage, whilst he gave a very short speech giving nothing away. Whilst wearing a spacesuit.

So will Augmented really be a ‘thing’ in 2015?

Perhaps, but at the moment the technology and the basic understanding behind it probably isn’t at the stage to make the jump. We have seen Google’s first attempt, Glass, stop production and is now in complete redesign stage, which was realistically the only option on the market at present.

We will undoubtedly see the potential, media coverage and general buzz increase, but we may need to wait until 2016 or 17 to really see this come into the mainstream. 

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