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Augmented and virtual reality in operational reality – Are we past the tipping point?

Aashish Chandorkar

AR is the superimposition of a digital layer on the physical world. VR is creation of a completely digital world, which helps the user experience the real world without being part of it

                <p>Augmented Reality (AR) involves superimposing a digital layer on the real world. Virtual Reality (VR) is a digital representation of the real world. Both concepts have huge potential for control and experience interfaces, but their progress through the product hype cycle has been slow, until now.</p>

Improvements in the processing power and other capabilities of phones, tablets, and wearables have now reached the point where AR and VR applications are practical and able to deliver measurable returns on investment in operational contexts. We may now be at, or beyond, the long-awaited tipping point for AR/VR adoption in operations.

Measuring AR and VR adoption

A recent Capgemini Research Institute (CRI) report on the adoption of immersive technologies in operations showed that, of the 600 companies working with AR and VR we surveyed, 55% are at the experimental stage and 45% are implementing the technologies.

The operational needs relating to AR and VR are rather well defined compared to consumer applications – a strong factor supporting adoption. It is much simpler to accurately define a use case for a specific technology in the operational context than it is in the consumer world, where the statement of needs is in constant flux.

This means that once a AR/VR deployment capability is close to the pre-defined operational user expectations, adoption can be rapid. This is one reason that consumer-focused AR and VR applications for smartphones have been rather limited, while we believe this will not be the case for business operations.

Our surveys show that the use of AR and VR is uniformly distributed, globally. This is good news for technology vendors because it means they can pick and choose the right combinations of market and industry. Silicon Valley is no longer the only source of innovation in this field. A lot more patents are being filed in Asia (especially China) and businesses in these markets are now confident and cash-flow rich enough to experiment ahead of their western counterparts.


Use cases for AR and VR

Repair and maintenance use cases are taking off in this space. Providing digital insights into the components of physical machines is proving highly effective in engineering and wear-and-tear solutions. This can involve showing reference videos and digital manuals, or providing searchable visualizations of parts under repair.

AR and VR are also effective ways of providing step-by-step instructions to repair and maintenance personnel in real time as they work on machines. Design and assembly, product training, and quality assurance are emerging focus areas.

We believe tangible productivity and efficiency measurements will help AR and VR climb the S-curve. Product quality improvement in the 25% to 50% range will bring a rush of businesses investing in this space wholeheartedly.

It is imperative that decision makers choose high-recall use cases to prove the utility of these technologies. Human safety is a great example. As businesses become more responsible toward the environment and health and safety, applying AR and VR to reduce physical risk will help overcome organizational resistance. The automotive, utility and mining, and natural resource sectors are likely to be the first movers in this area.

AR and VR are not currently widely discussed in the context of digital transformation, but we expect this to change rapidly. Our latest report Augmented and Virtual Reality in Operations: A guide for investment provides a wealth of insights into the current state of play with AR/VR in enterprise and some of the amazing possibilities these technologies are starting to make real.

Download Capgemini Research Institute’s Latest Report On  Augmented and Virtual Reality in Operations: A guide for investment  to get a 360 view on these Immersive Technologies