Mobilefever Crystal Ball Predicts… Augmented Reality for Business
Mobilefever has gone all mystical and will attempt to predict the future in the world of enterprise mobility. In this, the first of many predictions, we explore the use of augmented reality for businesses.
If we look back just a few short years ago we would see technology innovation starting as military applications then migrating to the business arena (at a price premium) then hitting the consumers where they are commoditized and made affordable through mass market penetration. Today, we are starting to see this turned on its head with many innovations available on consumer devices before businesses embrace them.
One area that is still in the embryonic stage is augmented reality, which superimposes virtual information over the real world. To fully enable augmented reality there are a number of ingredients we need:
- Portable computing devices such as a PDA or smartphone
- Integrated camera
- Integrated GPS
- Integrated digital compass
- An augmented reality application
- Data source
- Vision and imagination
By combining these ingredients an application can be see the world around it (camera), knows where it is (GPS) and which direction it is facing (compass). Combining these elements, we can create some innovative applications that have real business value. If we look at some examples of consumer applications we can start to see how businesses will be able to benefit from augmented reality:
Nearest Tube application show the nearest London Underground station, the lines available at each station, the distance and heading to get there. This is overlaid on the real world around the user enabling them to walk to the closest underground station.
RealSki shows ski runs as well as lifts, lodges, restaurants, rest rooms and more. Again this is overlaid on the real world allowing the skier to make a decision for their next activity.
Now we’ve seen what consumers have access to, how can this benefit businesses? ClickSoftware does a lot of work with Energy and Water utility companies who all use GIS mapping applications to keep track of their assets and infrastructure. Today these are birds eye 2D maps, imagine if this could be converted into an augmented reality application. The engineer could simply look at the screen on their mobile device and see the location, path and specifications of those assets superimposed on the real world. Being able to know exactly where to dig a hole to fix a broken junction in a pipe or cable could significantly improve efficiency. The engineer could also define a boundary by simply walking it or drawing on the screen over the real world.
Couple this innovation with a powerful and flexible mobile platform such as ClickSoftware’s Mobility Suite or ClickMobile, which is already integrated with many mobile mapping and GIS platforms, and you have a complete solution to maximize field force efficiency.