The global augmented and virtual reality market size is expected to reach over 190 billion USD by 2022. This impressive figure highlights how Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have both gone way beyond just gaming.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the presence of these technologies in medical, real estate, manufacturing, and many other industries. It is no surprise then that we’re expecting them to have a real impact in a world that is traditionally all work and no play.
Imagine walking around in circles at the office? How about being immersed into a virtual workspace where the avatars of your colleagues appear and can engage with you? These are just some ways that VR and AR will influence the workspace in the years to come.
But, before we discuss the specific impacts that have already taken place, let’s dive deep into what these technologies really are and how they complement each other.
The Difference between VR and AR
VR shuts out the physical world. Once you put your headset on, you’re immediately immersed into a computer-generated environment that can either be inspired by the real world or be imaginary.
It’s taken a number of years for VR tech to create seamless virtual worlds. Some notable developments in this space have been the Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR.
AR, on the other hand, takes the live view of our current reality and adds digital elements to it. Unlike VR, it doesn’t “transport” us into another reality. For AR, think the likes of the IKEA AR place app and Snapchat lenses.
These fundamental differences also mean that each technology can be applied differently in workspaces. For instance, since AR’s focus is more about adding elements to a live view, industries that require physical engagement (i.e. manufacturing) can benefit immensely from the technology.
Now that we understand exactly what these technologies are and how they are used, let’s get into how they will impact our workspaces.
4 Ways VR/AR Will Change the Workspace
1. Conferences and Meetings
This digital age has allowed us to interact and do business with people from all over the world, regardless of geography. Technologies such as Skype have for years offered us the ability to connect and chat.
VR / AR tech will enhance this idea of conducting meetings with people from all over the world. Developments are underway which will allow meeting members to enter a virtual space where they can interact with each other. They will be able to use virtual boards for brainstorming and ideas sharing. Embracing this technology can see a reduction in business travel expenses.
Having well-trained staff is invaluable for every organization. What makes this VR/AR training extra special is that as soon as the trainees put their headsets on, they are immersed into a computer-generated world where the circumstances they deal with in the virtual world, will be similar to what they may deal with in real life. The only difference is, if they make a mistake, you can always push the reset button.
Companies such as Wal-Mart and United Parcel Service (UPS) have already embraced this technology for their staff. With UPS, in particular, they’re training their student delivery drivers. The VR headsets simulate road conditions and hazards they are likely to encounter while working and this helps them to be better prepared to handle the situation in real life.
3. On-boarding Programs for New Co-workers
A company that has fully embraced this technology by building an AR-based onboarding program is Beam. They’ve developed this program for new employees to familiarize themselves with the office, the business, and their new co-workers.
As soon as a new employee puts the headset on, they will have office-related information such as who sits where around the office, what their job is, and how they can connect with them. If the new employee wants to know more about a particular co-worker, they can simply click on that person and a video of the employee will pop up that explains who they are.
We’re still far from having this be mainstream. Considering how awkward it can be for a new employee to start work and be thrown into an office space where they don’t know the people they will be spending much of their time with, this is an excellent way to break the ice.
4. Increase in Remote Work
CEOs and managers have over the past few years realized the benefits of having remote workers. Some benefits are that remote work improves efficiency since there are fewer distractions, and employees are more likely to have greater engagements since tools like video calling for meetings and conferences are often used. An increase of VR/AR tech in workspaces will see a reduction of office staff since the required engagement will take place virtually.
Great developments are taking place in the VR and AR space. Although some of these developments have already infiltrated many industries, this is just the beginning.
When it comes to the workspace, in particular, human beings have always turned to technology to enhance their productivity. Telephones, the Internet, Laptops…these technologies have been used to help us perform better at our jobs.
Without a doubt, VR and AR will add interesting elements to our work environments. Soon, we might all be walking around the office with headsets on, having conversations with avatars, and being in a virtual space with our colleagues. We might even do all this from our home offices. Only time will tell how VR and AR will truly transform our workspaces. Until then, we’ll be keeping up with the latest trends, anticipating what this exciting technology has to offer us.
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