Augmented Reality Arrives at the Workplace

Have you seen groups of people wandering around outside, staring at their phones? I have, both in the town where I live, and right outside my office window during breaks. What’s everyone doing?  Playing Pokémon Go, of course!

Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic in conjunction with Nintendo. Making use of GPS and the camera of smartphones, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world (see Wikipedia).

Does Pokémon have a place in the workplace? Well, I guess the game is fun for breaks. I’ve tried it and it’s challenging, gets you moving and starts conversations between people who might not talk much otherwise. But you’re not going to get any work done with it.

But what I do think belongs in the workplace is the augmented reality technology. I find it amusing that the first major appearance of AR in the workplace is in a game. But when I think about it, I realize that it’s a great way to get employees familiar with the technology in a way they embrace. So Pokémon is turning out to be a great teacher of tech and getting us all comfortable with the augmented world right around the corner.

Between AR and VR (virtually reality, where you wear goggles and are totally immersed) I’m betting that AR will have the most impact. That’s because it uses mostly the real world around you and overlays a minimal amount of information, like a Pokémon.

Soon, I think we’ll see many workplace AR applications: when wearing AR-enabled eyeglasses, AR will be able to show you the name of the person coming up to you at a meeting, show you how to use that new phone or device, identify the parts on a conveyor line and even show you how to assemble them with other pieces. You’ll look out the window and be see the names of each car’s owner, the temperature and forecast, and, looking up, the flight number and destination of the plane flying overhead. And then driving home it’ll display arrows on the street showing the route with the least traffic. And a thousand other use cases that no one’s thought of yet.

So thanks Pokémon for leading the way and giving us a taste of the AR future!

Image: Pokémon species “Psyduck” from Poké

Frank Kenna III
July 20, 2016

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