Even if you do not anticipate purchasing the Apple Watch or Google Glass anytime soon, someone may already have you shortlisted to step into the world of augmented reality (AR) and wearables.

Who? Your boss.

While makers of new wearable technologies walk a tricky tight rope between function and fashion, rest assured, your employer will go for function every time – especially when it’s a matter of improved range of motion, safety, and efficiency. In many workplaces, your employer can determine what you will need to wear to get the job done – and doesn’t worry too much about how it looks on you.

To be fair, there are some impressive workplace scenarios that make AR-enabled solutions the smart choice, especially where worker safety is concerned. There are clear benefits to augmenting the capabilities of skilled workers with digital information.

During a recent episode of Coffee Break with Game-Changers, SAP Radio host Bonnie D. Graham asked three experts for their views on where the AR trend is heading. Fresh off the InsideAR conference, held recently in Munich, Germany, these experts shared their opinions with SAP Radio:

  • Sascha Kiener, business development and key account manager, Metaio GmbH
  • Thomas Eckert, innovation manager, SAP
  • Raimund Gross, strategic technology advisor, Products & Innovation, SAP

Here is what each had to say, starting with a definition of augmented reality

Kiener: Augmented Reality, in short, is the connection between real-world items or real-world products with digital information. Everything we have around us somewhere has digital information stored about it, and with Augmented Reality, you can connect things to digital information directly by just basically looking at the things, and then you get the information directly in your screen or directly stuck onto the object you’re looking at.

Eckert: We should not define Augmented Reality too tight, in fact. It’s also my opinion because in the context of Augmented Reality, I have seen a lot of really brilliant and interesting new technologies – so, things like thermal touch, thermal cameras, 3D depth sensors integrated into tablets, and there are many more.

Why industry uptake will be faster than consumer adoption

Gross: We will probably see some of the growth in the coming years more on the enterprise side rather than the consumer side because […]looks, design, and style make a huge part of it, but things like miniaturization and others are working in our favor here and it will be more integrated and less distinguishable from a regular object.

Eckert: I also think that it’s a great opportunity in the enterprise area, and here just to give one example, think about a parcel service and the last mile to the customer: the person who will bring the package to the door of the apartment. If this person or worker would be equipped with Augmented Reality, it would help this person find the door easier and maybe all the neighborhood information and so on. Actually, this scenario is already existing or at least in a prototyping phase. This is a great use for Augmented Reality in an enterprise context.

Gross: I presume over the next couple of years the topic will probably grow in the enterprise area, with a lot of visibility in the consumer space for reasons […] that are very relevant for the consumer: How do I look like? What will others think about me? Is it expensive? Can I finance it?

[These]are very, very less relevant in the enterprise context. And if you are in a position to already dictate to your employees that they have to wear a hard hat on an oil rig, for example, or safety goggles or whatsoever, it’s only a small step to add additional equipment so that you’re not so much limited by the form factor.

Companies even told me that it doesn’t matter if we have to tape our rig workers additional batteries to the helmet. So, battery capacity will be less of an issue than it is for the consumer, for example. This is why I believe that this is a very interesting space to look into, because there are direct benefits to be reaped for the enterprises: you can improve quality; you can service with less personal a broader area, because you have probably remote service technicians […] that are onsite. You have better quality assurance because of maintenance cycles for machineries and so on.

Taking a page from the playbook of gamers

Eckert: Enterprises should also think about the gaming industry, because that will be also a segment that will not be hindered by any device, use whatever device is available, and there is a lot of potential in this area as well, since the business is typically a frontrunner when it comes to stuff like [AR].

Listen to this episode of Coffee Break with Game-Changers in its entirety at Augmented Reality: Beyond Google Glass, or read more at Augmented Reality and Wearables: What the Experts Say. You can listen to Coffee Break with Game-Changers live every Wednesday at 8:00am PST at the Voice America Business Channel – on the Internet.

For more information, watch Derek Klobucher’s video from SAP TechEd to get an idea of how augmented reality is being used in the enterprise.


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This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.