Augmented Reality in Enterprises

We note through different sources that there has been a huge data explosion over the past two years – explosion in terms of how much volume of data being processed and stored by each system, application and the appliance. This data, however has found its use in analysis (big data) in different ways.

One such analysis opportunity lies with what we call as Augmented Reality. AR, as per Wikipedia, is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory inputs such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. This is in contrast to Virtual Reality wherein the complete real world phenomenon is simulated and shown as an artificial world.

Augmented Reality uses the hardware components such as sensors – voice, vision etc to overlay a layer of data available for a entity when accessed through such sensors. As an example, mobile phones have apps which will use the device’s own camera to get the location and hence provide the data relevant to that location right on the phone for one’s view. Thus Augmented Reality could prove to be a means of accessing huge data and contextualizing them for the user community. All these are done with the use of additional manpower and resources but with the better use of available data and the app to suit the needs.

There is rather a conception that AR apps are predominantly finding their use in Social arena with the Location Based Services and device’s camera. However, that in a way, is moving away with the Research of big IT giants. There seems to be a large investment in AR and related areas with giants like SAP, Qualcomm etc who visualize this as a great opportunity and will find its use more with enterprises with the advent of smartphones. SAP’s Sales Director Timo Elliott, who pioneered this area in SAP back in 2010, indicates that clients are interested in using this technology in determining some of their business outcome.

As we are dealing with large amount of data to be processed through a smartphone (either internal to the device with a native store or external to the device through corporate data storeds), semiconductor and gians like Qualcomm has started building research facilities to increase the processing power of the smartphones to deal with large volume of data which are to get the information from the device-based sensors and hence augment the items that they see with the data that is available to generate the relevant output.

Where we can use AR in enterprises? CIO might be interested to determine the production quality and output of a specific division of his enterprise that is spread globally. Pointing the camera of his smartphone towards a location which is tagged to their central store would get the information about the location and hence access the ERP system to get the data about that division and hence tries to present it to him. Sounds interesting? That is where some of the leading businesses like Shell, 3M focus on. While technology pioneers like Google and Microsoft focus on building specific devices for AR, Application Solution Providers (ASPs) work with end users to determine and realize their need with the smartphones which are pretty much a device that they live and sleep with. Bigger enterprises will use smartphones in conjunction with options like RFID to augment the reality and hence make use of its potential in days to come.

Use of AR in enterprises broadly work on- better productivity; improved customer acquisition; to realize the behavioural patterns and build closer relationship with customers and possibly reducing customer dissatisfaction.

AR has been in use in enterprises through different forms. However, if married to smartphones, would increase its power multi-fold to enable supervisors with tools that could work for their benefit.

Not all the data needs to be available within the enterprise systems. Data can be obtained from different sources and can be worked through different Software Development Kits (SDK) available in the market. To name a few : Qualcomm’s Vuforia, metaio for enterprise, etc. They are specific to platforms and there are also SDKs’ which work with other HTML5 options to enable developers come up with Hybrid options on AR apps.

We, at Congruent, have started working with SDK to build apps for enterprises – scan and identify a specific pattern that would let us present the details that are tagged to that pattern with an enterprise database and help uses share that information across the enterprise.

Tags: Mobile
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