Untether is a good word. It makes me think of ships pulling anchor and sailing off to new horizons. Augmented reality apps have the same effect because they free people from the physical restrictions of their bodies enabling them to experience new ways of living, working and shopping, even disrupting entire industries such as retail.
Lowe’s, the home improvement company, for example, is attracting business with the Holoroom, an augmented reality experience inspired by science fiction, that helps customers visualize how their remodeled bathroom will look after it’s done. Some supermarkets are offering a new experience with Google Glass. Just command the glass to ‘start shopping’ and as you walk through the store, you’ll get recipe suggestions and nutritional information as you keep tabs on your bill or call your family from a display so they can help make a selection.
Cool as these apps may be for the consumer, they are even more impressive when it comes to the work environment. Augmented reality apps can untether field service technicians from their own hands. Using voice recognition, gesture and touch commands and functionality like remote expert calling, field works can easily perform tasks such as putting in work orders and ordering parts while using their hands for servicing machines or making repairs.
The good news is that SAP now offers Business Augmented Reality apps that have been developed using a co-innovation approach with customers and partners. Two such apps using smart glasses are the SAP AR Warehouse Picker and SAP AR Service Technician.
The first one will enable warehouse workers to increase efficiency in data entry, for example, through scanning and voice recognition and improves security by providing inventory location, alerts and instructions for maintenance handling and delivering safety messages to prevent accidents. The second one will allow field service technicians to have hands-free access to visual enterprise model instructions with 3D animation along with a remote expert calling function to request support from any expert, lowering costs by focusing resources where they are needed. This kind of over the shoulder instruction is also a great way to train workers new to the job.
Advances like these are shaping the future of field service and the future of work. By simplifying and enhancing user experience and providing access to enterprise information from anywhere, at any time, users stay focused on their work and environment. That’s good for the enterprise, good for employees and good for consumers who will pay less for products thanks to cost savings generated by augmented reality apps.