Can Immersive Technology Remake the Workplace Experience?

Last week, IT Business Edge reported on the anticipated convergence of immersive technologies with 5G and Artificial Intelligence. Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality have gained growth in the enterprise throughout the pandemic. The article looks at how the emergence of this immersive tech will affect digital transformation in the workplace, and how 5G and AI will contribute towards this.

Mixed Reality is a focus; a 2020 survey by Microsoft and the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services about MR across a range of industries is detailed. Here are some key results:

  • Almost 90% of businesses are currently piloting, exploring, or deploying MR; a third of these are putting MR into production this year
  • 68% of businesses believe MR is important for achieving strategic business goals
  • 62% of businesses expect improved customer satisfaction from using MR
  • 55% of businesses expect an efficient work process due to MR

Industries that have benefitted or have uses cases from MR mentioned include:

  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Communications
  • Retail
  • Education

The current remote state of working, along with the reduced cost of MR devices, has encouraged companies to innovate. AI and machine learning are also anticipated to bring great change to AR and VR in the enterprise with functions such as improved human motion. This will allow for better interaction, and deeper immersion. 5G can further provide better connectivity, lower latency, and higher bandwidth. This can enable AI functionality as well as faster data transfer speeds.

Immersive tech has had a massive impact on workplace events and conferences during the pandemic. Benefits of this include:

  • Reduced travel expenses
  • Greater meeting and interaction flexibility
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Allowing for failure and quick recovery with little/no cost

SaaS-based companies (such as AltSpaceVR and Spacial) that offer 3D work environments are now higher profile as a result. The Global HR Summit was even hosted on AltSpaceVR last fall. Oculus Quest headsets were shipped out to all 50 speakers by Bento HR and Genius Ventures, who noted that it was actually cheaper than shipping out speakers and providing accommodation.

MR has another use case for training. It enables trainees to interact with physical aspects of the work environment while the process remains virtualised. Entire processes and procedures can be simulated using a headset, while real-world instructions and 3D objects are overlaid. The benefits of this include:

  • Provides stimulating engagement
  • Cost efficient
  • No need for travel, a trainer, practise equipment, or a training space
  • Built-in return on investment

In 2018, Walmart acquired 17,000 Oculus Go headsets for training over 1 million employees. This initiative provided realistic, repeatable, and scalable content, and helped employees with learning and retaining information.

Certain challenges still affect AR, VR, and MR adoption: lack of user experience, lack of understanding capabilities, initial price of output, reluctance to take the leap. However, with 2021 predicted to be integral for immersive tech integration, four strategies to overcoming these challenges are outlined:

  • Developing business models to manage and promote immersive tech investment
  • Investing in a team to enable adoption
  • Determining the correct use case to deliver lasting support and value
  • Preparing IT infrastructure for integrating immersive tech

Read the full article here.

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