Facebook made headlines earlier this year when it purchased virtual reality start up Oculus Rift for $2billion. Although Oculus Rift’s technology is initially intended for playing video games, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t shy about suggesting other use cases. ‘Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.’ Virtual reality, and other wearable technology like Google Glass, could also transform the world of work.
American automotive giant Ford, for instance, is using VR to evaluate potential designs of new vehicles in a virtual environment. Using an Oculus Rift headset and several motion capture cameras, engineers at the company’s Detroit offices can explore the design of a vehicle and move around a virtual model of the car. Ford aims to use the technology to allow a group of designers based around the world to meet virtually and inspect new designs.
Another area where virtual displays could have an impact is training. General Motors has experimented with using Google Glass on its assembly line, giving workers live information about parts and components. Employees can also take pictures of parts or trouble spots they encounter, and submit the images to engineers for review.
Other companies could use Google Glass and similar camera-mounted wearable technologies to track performance. In the same way organisations currently monitor emails and phone calls, they could soon be using video monitoring to ensure standards and procedures are maintained. Aggregated video analytics could give companies a dashboard of the percentage of staff correctly dealing with clients in face-to-face meetings, and the number discussing key products or offerings. They could also gauge the reaction of clients in real time.
The brave new world of VR and other wearable technology has the potential to reshape our working lives to make them more collaborative, engaging and data-focused.
This post was written by Owen King, and is part of a series on the future of workplace technology.