Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 20, 2016

Beecham Research: Augmented Reality, Wearable Tech a Huge Plus for Workplaces

Augmented reality (AR) has a lot of terrific potential applications, and everything from gaming to navigation stands to benefit. With wags from all sides scolding about distracted driving and other issues, though, it's starting to seem like the only safe place left for AR is the workplace. Beecham Research's recent report says that there are a lot of great advantages for AR at work, especially when combined with wearable tech.

The report wears its heart on its sleeve, since it's titled “Augmented Reality and Wearable Technology – an operational tool for the enterprise.” It notes several markets in which AR can be a powerful thing, ranging from manufacturing and logistics efforts to healthcare and retail, offering people a whole new way to interact with information and thus provide, ultimately, a better experience.

Also noted in the report are a string of acquisitions that are driving the market in new and unexpected ways; PTC purchased Vuforia at the end of 2015 for $65 million, a development that offered big new potential for AR. Other notes include Apple's Metaio purchase and Facebook's Surreal Vision purchase. There's even a projection for the likely size of the market to come, with report author and market analyst Matthew Duke-Woolley noting that the market could ultimately approach $800 million by 2020. That's a forecast even Duke-Woolley admits isn't “firm”, but a reasonable supposition given the data as it stands.

Beecham Research principal analyst Saverio Romeo offered some assent, noting that one of the biggest fields in AR was likely to be the increased development of smart glasses, further work in miniaturization and improved battery life. An expected convergence with the Internet of Things (IoT) would also drive development, and in turn, provide a computing environment that was increasingly hands-free.

There's no shortage of worthwhile developments for AR; despite protestations of distracted driving, I maintain that AR navigation is one of the best developments around for driving. Being able to visually see where to make a turn, in the user's field of view, is a staggering development. Throw in the potential for gaming—imagine turning your house into a haunted house by putting on a set of goggles—and there's no reason AR can't be huge at home. For businesses, it's even bigger; AR systems can help field techs spot problems, can help inventory managers see at a glance how much of a certain unit should be in stock, and a host of other developments.

AR can be a huge development if we as a society can give it room to grow properly. Without lawmakers getting in the way or similar issues, we can find a host of ways for AR to help make our everyday lives better. The Beecham Research report just underscores this point and illustrates its potential impact.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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