AR Eyewear’s Deep Impact

Augmented reality (AR) takes what we see and enhances it with digital information.

“AR technology augments graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and real-time contextual information to the world in front of us and will change the way we interact with the world.” (How Augmented and Virtual Reality is Helping Oil & Gas)

AR technology integrated with safety eyewear has infiltrated industries in virtually every sector. It now exists as essential tools in many businesses across the world.

AR glasses started with tremendous hype, but their initial epic failure left many wondering what happened to Google Glass. However, Google Glass is Making a Comeback because those within industry began using it in ways its founders failed to foresee.

Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, in addition to Google, now develop AR technology. The resulting AR eyewear exists as a tool often lauded by workers as essential as those they’ve used for years and couldn’t do without.

Industry experts believe AR’s significance will only grow.

“Ten years from now, all glasses will be smart glasses. And you won’t leave home without ‘em.” (Where’s the Market for $3,500 Ruggedized Smart Glasses)

Photo/Image courtesy of AGCO Corp

This deep impact of AR eyewear on the industry is clearly happening now and includes benefits being seen at almost every level.

  • Reducing the margin of error in the workplace.
  • Saving time.
  • Lowering cost.
  • Improving learning retention.
  • Bridging the generational gap.

AR Eyewear’s Industry Impact

With customization to meet some very specific and highly unique needs, AR glasses are regularly seen in oil refineries, coal mines, and factories. They’re also impacting the global transportation system via integration into some essential airport functions.

Airline Industry

Considered the world’s best airport partially because if aesthetics, Singapore’s Changi airport mostly receives that title because of its emphasis on technology. And the best is about to get better with its delving into augmented reality by way of AR safety eyewear for grounds crew.

Air travel is often frustrating with its long wait times and inevitable flight delays. Through AR eyewear, Changi found a way to improve flight connections by 15 minutes. That brings tremendous benefit for everyone involved from the airline itself to businesses shipping containers to air travelers.

AR Glasses Airport

For Changi, the impact began in a very practical sense. Grounds crew loading baggage and containers into airplanes previously planned placement with pen and paper and then communicated the location for items via phone or walkie-talkie. AR glasses have replaced that process. The result is a more natural and more efficient system. It also makes for a more productive business model. (What are AR glasses doing on Changi Airport tarmac?)

Another airline-related AR application takes us to Germany where Liquid Controls, a global provider of fuel metering and measurement technology, unveiled FlightConnect Glass. This AR technology allows for a wireless display of virtually every piece of data needed to…

“…improve safety and efficiency in major commercial fuel services industries.” (Liquid Controls Unveils Wearable AR Technology for Aviation Fueling)

Oil & Gas Industry

While its potential impact on the airport industry is only beginning, AR glasses are already an integral part of the oil and gas industry. Uses include in regular maintenance of crucial equipment, for analyses, to review user manuals and as a platform to collaborate on discussing and fixing issues. Use of AR in this industry is bringing significant results too.

“The benefits include reduction in undesirable breakdowns, unscheduled maintenance, monitored inventory, operating or maintenance costs and dependency on OEM. Also, improved timely availability of technical expertise and easy access to events data will assist in adopting logical decisions rather than “gut feel.” (How Augmented and Virtual Reality is Helping Oil & Gas)

Photo/Image courtesy of AGCO Corp

Using AR eyewear in dangerous places like oil refineries, coal mines, and even many factories makes sense first because workers already wearing safety gear. The practicality of AR in these applications multiplies through the benefit to workers in some unique and specific ways. For example, think of petroleum engineers who rely on streams of data to do their work or of those who work in places like flour mills and coal mines that ban cell phones and other electronics.

Bridging the Gap

Then there’s the attrition problem seen in almost every industry. AR eyewear seems to be providing a reliable solution to that as well, and the oil and gas industry exemplifies this too.

“Faced with a particularly complicated engineering problem, a worker could use the built in [camera on AR glasses] to stream everything he’s looking at to an expert on the other side of the world, who would himself be wearing smart glasses and be able to see everything like he was there. The young worker can act as the old engineers hands, while gaining vital experience. The old worker avoids an arduous trip… It will keep old guys from retiring.” (Where’s the Market for $3,500 Ruggedized Smart Glasses)

Photo/Image courtesy of AGCO Corp

Simply put, AR bridges the gap between experienced workers and the younger workers who need to learn what they know.

“Just as with the oil and gas industry, workers with decades of experience (Baby Boomers) are retiring en masse, and the industry cannot afford to lose their legacy knowledge and experience. Having grown up digitally savvy and always connected, the Millennial workforce is extremely comfortable with AR and VR solutions, enabling them to ask questions, seek confirmation and get a second opinion in minutes, rather than hours or days.” (The Impact — And Importance — Of Virtual And Augmented Reality In Aviation)

AR is genuinely providing viable solutions. Most companies can adapt what the airline industry and the oil and gas industry have done with AR eyewear to solve similar challenges.

The Invention of the Decade?

The growth of AR glasses in the workplace is happening at an astounding rate.

“Wearable computing like smart glasses will grow from $10.5 billion last year [2016] to $55 billion in 2022 as unit volumes explode from about 6 million [in 2016] to 50 million.” (Where’s the Market for $3,500 Ruggedized Smart Glasses)

Initially, the cost was prohibitive. But that’s changing. For instance, AR headgear made by Osterhout Design Group cost $5,000 in 2015, and its 2018 model now sells for $1,000. Considering the benefits AR eyewear brings, the price tag is a reasonable one.

There are some limitations to AR eyewear, such as the battery charge, but time will likely bring solutions for this too. The resurrected technology finds itself now meeting unique and specific needs in a variety of ways. At this rate, experts may soon hail AR eyewear as the invention of the decade.

What’s Your Opinion?

Do you currently use AR Safety Glasses in your workplace? Do you think AR Safety Glasses will make a positive change in productivity? Please leave a comment below.