XR: What You're Looking For is Already in Your Hands

Written BY

Scott Burkey

January 24, 2022

Written by Special Guest Blogger Scott Burkey, XR Product Manager, WestRock

Think for a minute about your favorite pastime. Maybe it’s running or dirt biking or golf or tennis. Whatever it is, you most likely use some sort of club, racquet, or other piece of specialized equipment.

Now, think about how “good” you are at this pastime or, in my case, how “bad” you may be. I’m a runner but I’m slower than all my running buddies. In my head, I'm clearing 15-foot jumps on my dirt bike (with cameras flashing everywhere) when, in reality, I’m only getting about two feet off the jump. I don’t play golf myself but unless you consistently shoot par, there’s room for improvement. It doesn’t have to be a sport either. Maybe your hobby is painting, but you’re no Picasso, or you play guitar but no where near a Hendrix or Clapton...

I’m not trying to tell you that you stink at golf or painting but instead point out something that most amateur athletes and hobbyists have in common. I’m sure you’ve caught yourself thinking, “If only I had better golf clubs, I’d be a better golfer” or “If I had top-of-the-line running shoes, I could run faster and longer.” It’s silly, though, to think that better gear makes us perform better. It helps but it’s not necessary to be good at golf or a great artist.

What does this have to do with enterprise XR? When it comes to extended reality (AR/VR/MR), we tend to think the same way about our “gear.” I’m often asked what’s next in manufacturing. Customers want to hear tales from the very cutting-edge of emerging technology. They want to hear what Apple’s pending augmented reality glasses will do and the use cases they will solve. Even use cases my customers don’t have.

People want to believe that Tony Stark’s Jarvis is going to jump inside their smart glasses any day now and solve all their production, training, and other issues, but the truth is better shoes are not the answer to running faster. You are capable of running fast in the shoes you already own, and you’re capable of solving business pain points with the technology or hardware at your disposal right now.

For instance today, you can reduce travel expenses using an AR-capable mobile device to call a remote expert. For relatively little money, you can increase uptime using a RealWear HMT-1 or other available augmented reality headset to show a problem to someone in another country and have him or her teach you to fix it in minutes. You may already use these imperfect technologies and wonder what’s next, banking on some amazing future device employees will actually want to wear.

My advice: Work on driving adoption now. Work on taking what you have and getting it into the hands or on the heads of more frontline workers within your company. Turn current savings or efficiencies into a force-multiplier. This is how you make money, save money, and solve issues today. New golf clubs won’t knock 20 strokes off your game if you’ve never held a golf club before.

So, let me know how I can help. There are dozens like me using XR to solve real-world business production and safety issues right now. We’re happy to show you what was shown to us, so you can be in the best position to take advantage of that magical immersive device that’s just around the corner.

Scott Burkey manages the Extended Reality Products for WestRock, a global manufacturing and consumer packaging company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. He takes a pragmatic approach to implementing new ways of making training more effective and supporting front-line workers. Having worked as a software developer for over 20 years at companies like CNN, TBS/TNT, and Coca-Cola, Scott now champions new technologies in the manufacturing industry which he believes will be one of the biggest adopters of AR/VR. All views are his own.

Hear Scott speak at AES 2022 in October. Learn more at augmentedenterprisesummit.com.

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