October 26, 2017
You wouldn’t think that a financial services corporation, a children’s toy retailer, a railway company, and the U.S. Navy could relate to one another but in this new age of mobility – really a new age of mobile computing – companies and individuals are finding the same emerging technologies can meet their differing needs. As it has become more and more possible (and desirable) to live our lives on the go, our jobs are following suit. Whether you sit at a desk, stand on an assembly line, spend your days walking around a warehouse, or travel from job to job; wearable technology has something to offer to make your work easier, more productive, and safer. See how wearables are seeping into every corner of the industry landscape:
Fidelity Labs recently partnered with Strivr to develop immersive Virtual Reality “empathy training” simulations for its customer service representatives. Wearing the Google DayDream headset, employees go through a simulated call; they’re able to see the distressed customer on the other end of the line both during and after the call, and witness the impact of their responses on the customer in his/her home. Trainees can observe the virtual client’s facial expressions and feelings, and evaluate their own role in the conversation.
Fidelity believes VR can be a powerful empathy-building training tool, if only to drive home the idea that there is always a real person on the other side of the phone. Weighing potential financial decisions and moves according to each caller’s personal situation requires not only knowledge of Fidelity products and services but also sensitivity. Seeing a client who needs to withdraw money from her account sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by bills makes it easier for the customer service rep to empathize with her situation and provide assistance.
Fidelity has explored VR in the past: It created StockCity, a stock visualization tool for the Oculus, in 2014; and more recently turned to VR in assessing the impact of factors like age, tenure and asset allocation on its workforce.
Toys ‘R’ Us
Toys ‘R’ Us, Target and even Regal Cinemas are all seizing on new consumer mobile Augmented Reality tools to attract, assist, and entertain customers. For Toys R Us, AR may be a last hope. Having recently filed for bankruptcy protection, the toy company desperately needs to sell more toys in its stores and is turning to an AR app to do so.
To transform the experience of shopping at a Toys R Us store, the company partnered with PlayFusion to develop interactive (and some gamified) AR experiences available to kids in stores through a mobile app. By scanning “Play Chaser” signs throughout the store, little shoppers can be guided by a virtual Geoffrey the Giraffe, shoot virtual basketballs, take care of a virtual doll, and watch toys become animated on screen. The hope is that if the store is fun for kids, they will ask their parents to take them more often—more store visits=more sales. And though it is a smartphone app today, Toys R Us is introducing AR to the generation that will undoubtedly embrace AR glasses and headsets in the future.
In early 2016, the German railway company trialed body cameras on security staff at its Berlin railway stations in an attempt to improve safety and security. After an increase in attacks against employees, Deutsche Bahn deployed bodycams that strap across the user’s chest, relaying live images of an incident in real time. To comply with rules around data protection for customers and employees, DB workers using the technology clearly identified themselves by wearing a “video surveillance” name tag.
The U.S. Navy
In April 2016, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) received attention for its efforts using virtual reality for training purposes. FIST2FAC, or the Fleet Integrated Synthetic Training/Testing Facility, was designed to develop, test and demonstrate simulation training technology, and to blend live-action exercises with virtual assets like virtual ships, weapons and enemies.
Virtual Reality is the future of training for the Navy, allowing sailors to train for any kind of mission in virtually unlimited settings and scenarios without the cost (millions of dollars,) logistical and safety challenges of setting up live-training exercises in the physical environment. At FIST2FAC, sailors use both PCs and VR headsets to “train like they fight” in various realistic yet virtual settings, where they interact with artificially intelligent enemies and have to develop strategies aboard aircraft carriers, etc. without burning any real fuel or firing real weapons. And the setup is easy—the training center uses advanced software and gaming technology.