There is no doubt that virtual reality – when well-integrated in the workplace – can be an incredible asset. Yet, compared to Augmented Reality, it also brings some serious downsides.
Lately Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and Virtual Reality have been the talk of the town. Now, business leaders have started to discuss how to best leverage these technologies in the workplace. But which one should you invest in? With Augmented Reality, we clearly have a winner. Here’s why.
Virtual Reality blocks out the real world
With Oculus, HTC and PlayStation at the forefront, virtual reality is especially at rage right now. The idea is to block out the sensory input from the outside and use visual and auditory cues to make the virtual world seem more real. When putting on the Virtual Reality headset, these immersive, computer-generated environments are so convincing that you really feel like you have been transported to a completely new world.
While no one can argue that the technology itself is quite impressive, think for a second how that is positive in a modern workplace where an enhancement of collaboration and team work is the center of our work?
Augmented Reality enhances the real world
Augmented Reality makes up with that. Instead of working isolated in computer-generated environments, Augmented Reality has the capability of superimposing information on the world we see. Hence, all what this technology does is to add to the reality you ordinarily see rather than replacing it.
In a workplace, this means that Augmented Reality can enhance employee’s life and workplace experience, not replace it.
Imagine a Facility Manager who has to perform a technical task that never has been performed before – e.g. disassembling a ventilation system. An augmented reality device (glasses or a smartphone application) is able to show what to do by using overlaid animations – with the information displayed changing dynamically along with the task that he or she is performing. This way, the Facility Manager is able to quickly learn the basics without being trained by another employee or read through a manual.
Even though Virtual Reality can display such a disassembling process, being psychologically disconnected from the physical reality you will not be able to perform the task simultaneously.
Virtual Reality limits your mobility
With Virtual Reality you psychologically escape the physical world and enter a virtual one. This is one of the reasons why gamers love virtual reality. Out of the sudden they are not limited by their laptop or smartphone screen or distracted by the physical surroundings. By putting on these headsets they basically leave the physical world for the virtual one.
The issue in the workplace is, however, that many employees nowadays are no longer tied to one desk or location all day long. Employees today are to a high extent today mobile and need to be able to work on the go.
Virtual Reality limits that mobility. You can not walk from A to B in the office or be in a commute while wearing your headset. Giving up your ears and eyes to Virtual Reality makes every physical movement dangerous.
Augmented Reality is mobile
If a widespread adoption of a technology in the workplace is to take place on a scale of the smartphone, then the technology must be an everyday wearable.
This means employees wearing the augmented reality headsets while they move around the office, when they are commuting or when they participate in a physical meeting.
Using VR that is naturally not possible and this just adds to the reason why Virtual Reality will limit the modern employee rather than adding to the work experience.
To add to that, Augmented Reality is also mobile in the sense that it can live and breathe on our current wearable devices. As an example, Augmented Reality browsers can enrich your smartphone camera display with contextual information. For example, by pointing your smartphone at a building it has the capability of displaying its history or estimated value.
Compared to Virtual Reality, the smooth integration of Augmented Reality with wearable devices naturally also decreases cost of investment from a business point of view.