As the wearable computing industry begins to ramp up this year, Google and other companies already have their sights set on connected eyewear. Devices such as Google Glass are expected to make up a large part of the consumer device market in the coming decade, but the technology could also prove very useful to the enterprise sector as well.
Market research firm Gartner this week suggested that augmented reality (AR) technology could soon become an important tool for businesses. The implication is that businesses could use AR tech to improve internal communication and collaboration while also speeding up workflows and training.
AR technology could enable businesses to create enhanced spaces, where their physical infrastructure is combined with a layer of the virtual. The applications for AR could be used to supplement employees' environmental awareness, as well as provide instant access to information for quicker decision-making. In other words, AR could potentially make nearly everything in a business context more efficient.
"Augmented reality is the real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects," said Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner. "AR leverages and optimizes the use of other technologies such as mobility, location, 3D content management and imaging and recognition. It is especially useful in the mobile environment because it enhances the user's senses via digital instruments to allow faster responses or decision-making."
Though AR could potentially have office applications, Gartner believes that the most useful applications for AR technology will come for workers who are more often away from desks, or those that need two hands to work. Surgeons and hospitals in general are an obvious target market for AR, and Google Glass has already been used during at least one surgery. Workers who are often without quick access to information, or who are unable to collaborate in person may also benefit heavily from the technology.