What began as a peaceful day on the beach, ended in relative chaos. There I was, playing with my children building the best sandcastle ever, when literally hundreds of people went charging past hysterically. Oblivious to everything around them and blindly following their smartphones, they were all hunting special Pokémon figures, and that was the end of our sand creation. Within just a few months developer Niantic has managed to turn millions of people into enthusiastic Augmented Reality fans. Could this perhaps tell us something about the popularity of this technology in the workplace?
Article - Social Physics
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The digital and real worlds coming together
Augmented Reality (AR) is the technology with which a digital layer is superimposed on the physical world. Point your smartphone’s camera at the road, for instance, and you’ll see the road with a digital overlay. In Pokémon Go this extra layer of information takes the form of animated cartoon figures. AR was first noted in Gartner’s hype cycle in 2005, but it never quite made the real breakthrough. Niantic appears to have become the first to achieve this.
Old ideas giving way to new
Although the possibilities of AR have been known for some time, its real value is still not always clear. You can look at it in two ways to determine that value (old thinking versus new), and that immediately makes it interesting in terms of workplace innovation. Previously one would consider the ‘problem’ and then think up an answer for it (old thinking): the product immediately had concrete usefulness and thus it had added value.
In the new thinking, a so-called ‘minimum viable product’ is put onto the market. This is a trimmed-down version of the product with a minimum of viable functionality. User experience allows the product to be improved with each new version, eventually producing a stable product which thus acquires more value. This approach leads to product evolution and maturity through the application of latest developments.
The added value in practice
In a similar way AR can also be deployed in the workplace, for example for maintenance management or in designing and equipping buildings. The technology exists, and many organisations are investigating whether it might also have specific value for them. In terms of the facilities field there are already employees of security companies using Google Glass at work for instance, and logistics organisations deploying this technology for order-picking. AR is being used mainly to make the work easier, or to speed it up. And of course that immediately provides users with value.
According to the new thinking, technology keeps being extended and new features are added. Just as Pokémon Go keeps being extended and keeps acquiring more value, this also applies to workplace innovation. The longer we use them, the greater the added value becomes.
Perhaps the next version of Pokémon Go might even gain a feature warning of sandcastles along the way. Then the game not only has added value for its fans, but also for me and my offspring.