“Pokemon Go and Snapchat are just scratching the surface for augmented reality’s ability to change our lives,” said Dr. Helen Papagiannis in her keynote address at DevLearn 2019 Conference and Expo. Organizations today are leveraging AR for everything from machine assembly and guiding complex medical procedures, to helping those on the autism spectrum prepare for job interviews.

Papagiannis is a researcher, designer, and technology evangelist who has been working with augmented reality (AR) for more than a decade. Named among the NEXT 100 Top Influencers of the Digital Media Industry, she is the former chief innovation officer at Infinity Augmented Reality Inc. and senior research associate at York University’s Augmented Reality Lab. She is the author of Augmented Human.

Moving beyond fun

AR came on the scene as a fun diversion, however Papagiannis notes that it is more than fun and games. She is interested in how the technology is transforming how we explore the world around us, and the very real opportunities it presents for business and learning. Here are some very real examples she shared about how organizations are putting AR into practice today.

  • Workers at utility companies are using AR technology to “see” underground electrical lines before they start digging.
  • Medical practitioners are using it to identify veins when drawing blood.
  • Medical students are learning about parts of the human anatomy that are difficult to identify on a cadaver.
  • Magic Leap has created virtual humans that can help those on the autism spectrum learn to pick up on social cues and practice their job interview skills.
  • GE is equipping line workers with AR smart glasses that guide them with step-by-step instructions for assembling and repairing heavy machinery. In addition to providing performance support, the technology enables managers to get real-time feedback and data on what employees need to be successful.
  • Other companies are using AR as tech support, allowing remote workers in the field to consult with an expert in real time, while doing a work process.
  • Retail establishments are creating apps that allow customers to find things on shelves or successfully navigate through the stores. Others are using AR to help customers imagine how furniture might scale and what it might look like in their homes.
  • AR is helping organizations onboard new employees by providing wayfinding tours of the office or campus.
  • Google Lens allows people to point their phone at an object and do certain kinds of searches that would be hard to do in text, like trying to identify a particular plant.
  • Canadian AR company North and their Focals glasses enable viewers to receive and view short notifications and information about the weather.
  • AR is also being used in education. Notable Women, an AR app, allows viewers to put the faces of 100 historic American women on US currency, and learn about them.
  • Tate Britain, a museum, is using AR to make art come alive.
  • The New York Times is using AR in their app to help tell stories, such as the story of the Thai cave rescue last year.