Digital Singularity is Unleashing Humanity’s Potential
Digital Singularity, the omnipresence of technology, is empowering, reshaping and augmenting the human experience. The four pillars of Digital Singularity – Hyperconvergence, Digital Moments, Augmented Reality and Digital Twins together with the technology prerequisites -Blockchain, Cloud, IoT, AI and Analytics, RPA, Cyber Security, Sensors and 3D Printing are driving a new wave of innovation, unleashing humanity’s potential and redefining our relationships with technology.
We have discussed the first two pillars of Singularity, Hyperconvergence and Digital Moments. With Hyperconvergence, two or more technologies with different uses are merged to create something with a new purpose, greater than the original technologies could ever have had by themselves. The second pillar, Digital Moments is a transaction that occurs within a transaction. While we are doing one activity, another action transpires without human prompting, enabled through automation, analytics, and AI.
The third pillar of Digital Singularity and the focus of this article is Augmented Reality (AR). AR supplements in real time, the information we get through our senses- from the real world. It enhances our perception of surroundings and enriches the otherwise analog experiences, so we can make better and faster decisions. Lastly, the Digital Twin accessed via biometrics is a real time, virtual model of our physical selves that is constantly transacting and acting on our behalf– without ever needing to rest or refuel.
Augmented Reality Augments the Human Experience
Augmented Reality and virtual reality sometimes get mistaken for the other or get perceived as the same technology. Both alter our view of the world — but they are fundamentally different. Virtual reality involves putting on a physical device that covers the eyes to show us an artificial world – which may or or may not exist, like in a video game or a flight simulator. It is essentially an illusion of reality. With Augmented Reality (AR), we are still interacting with the actual world around us, but we are getting data, inputs, computer-generated images, and sound that enhance our perception and experiences. Sensor technology makes AR possible and heightens our perception and gathers real-world interactions to overlay a digital model and help a execute desired output. AR allows for predictive decision-making in real time through analytics that allow us to obtain information rapidly and efficiently.
We have seen AR technology in action many times: NFL was an early adopter of Augmented Reality in the late 1990s, projecting a yellow first-down line on the field under the players’ movements that only viewers at home could see. We are using AR in our cars every day: The simplest application is when we shift into reverse and the screen on the vehicle’s dashboard “paints” moving lines over our view to guide us getting in and out of parking spaces. In the near future we may see advanced head-up displays that will plant a “ghost car” in front of us that we will follow for navigation, as well as systems tracking all movements to warn about pedestrians crossing the street in busy, urban environments.
There is Potential for AR in Every Industry
There are many companies testing out potential AR applications in diverse industries, including medical, manufacturing, telecommunications, hospitality, utilities and others. For example, Boeing and Volkswagen are using AR glasses on the factory floor as a hands-free device that supplies real-time instructions, checklists, and schematics to aid workers assembling complex parts and wiring. Operated with voice commands, it increases efficiency and safety by cutting down time spent entering data or reading instructions. The analytics from the glasses supports workers on the floor to make decisions that bolster the overall strategy of the business.
In the hospitality industry, guests can bypass the front desk with the now virtual concierge. IBM has worked with Pebble Beach to create a virtual concierge app that provides customers with suggestions for exploration, restaurants, and experiences as they’re driving, like having a tour guide traveling with them. The app serves up immersive AR experiences around those destinations, without a need for a concierge, and users can ask the app questions to get answers in real time.
In the utilities market, we can combine 3D imaging, and AR to prevent outages and improve energy and operation efficiency. Electricity grids could be replicated via AR glasses which would display exact locations of outages and energy issues, along with a rating of how serious the problem is so that utility providers could prioritize repairs.
AR in the Future
We are currently just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible using AR. Soon enough, AR could empower warehouse staff to not only identify goods on the shelf but to recognize whether they are in the right place, just by looking at them. Workers would be able to scan an entire warehouse and see where the red dots pop up on the visual scan to find items that have been misplaced and need to be relocated. Companies may only need one person to run a warehouse of 100,000 square feet because technology will virtually identify all products that are out of place in mere seconds.
Like the other pillars so far, AR will likely be monetized, potentially by being added as feature to apps and future sports, and as a critical tool to advance enterprise and sales operations. Wearing AR glasses or goggles would allow us to interact with the world in a different way, connecting us to more and more transactions via Digital Moments so we can instantly purchase what we see. AR applications will have the benefit of potentially increasing conversion (sales) rates. That’s why Amazon is exploring the idea of opening stores that sell furniture and appliances with the aid of AR. How will it work? With AR, customers would be able to see how couches, refrigerators, stoves, and credenzas “look” in their homes before they buy.
In the office, AR is expected to be everywhere via apps, glasses, and wearable computing. Employees will work and collaborate in a digitally enabled blend of real-world and virtual-world environments that are mobile, secure, automated, and integrated.[i] AR-related business could hit $85 billion to $90 billion in revenue within five years, found a 2018 report.[ii]
This is the time for executives and business owners to decide if they can really afford to not invest in Augmented Reality, or in any of the Singularity Pillars. AR has proven to improve efficiency, fundamentally changing the way we do business. New competition is constantly emerging. Companies you never could have imagined, are expanding their services lines and offerings, threatening other organizations with lax efforts to adopt new technologies. AR could give you the much-needed edge over competitors now and as we move into Singularity.
[i] “How Will We Work in 2025?” NASA IT Talk, July-September 2014, https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/IT-Talk_July2014.pdf.
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