Workplace AR

Your constantly-updated definition of Workplace AR and collection of videos and articles
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What is Workplace AR?

Workplace AR refers to social, workplace-integrated augmented reality tools and interfaces that help workers complete their job tasks. Workplace Augmented Reality (AR) products and services are increasingly common, especially among remote workers as they can help prevent siloing and create a workplace culture that feels more "in-person." 

In this video, CEO of Experience Dynamics, Frank Spillers, describes the characteristics of social AR: 

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UX Design's Role in Workplace AR 

Image showing both virtual characters or avatars and real people meeting in a shared virtual space.

The success of Workplace AR hinges significantly on user experience (UX) design, as it dictates how intuitively and effectively users interact with augmented reality in their work environment. UX designers face a unique challenge––to combine digital information with the physical world in a way that feels seamless and natural to the user. This requires a deep understanding of user needs, behaviors, and the specific contexts in which AR will be used. 

Intuitive Interactions 

Interactions need to be intuitive in Workplace AR. UX designers must craft interfaces that minimize cognitive load so users can access and comprehend augmented information without feeling overwhelmed. This involves clear visual cues, straightforward navigation, and interaction patterns that align with users' expectations based on their real-world experiences. 

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

Contextual Relevance, Accessibility and Inclusivity 

Workplace AR applications must provide contextually relevant information tailored to the user's immediate tasks and environment. UX designers play a crucial role in filtering and presenting data in ways that enhance the user's ability to perform their job, rather than distract or hinder them.  

Designers must ensure AR tools are accessible to all employees, including those with disabilities. Features such as voice commands, haptic feedback, and adjustable visual settings make AR applications more inclusive and foster an equitable workplace environment. 

In this video, UX Content Strategist, Katrin Suetterlin, discusses the meaning of inclusive design.  

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User-Centric Design  

UX designers must engage with actual users throughout the development process, from initial concept through prototyping to final implementation to ensure a user-centric approach. This involves regular user testing and feedback loops to refine AR interfaces based on real-world use and user preferences. Such an approach not only improves usability but also ensures that the AR solutions genuinely address the challenges and opportunities within the workplace. 

Consider Ethics and Safety  

As Workplace AR gains prominence, designers must prioritize safety, privacy and data security for their users. AR applications process extensive employee data, which necessitates robust data protection measures and transparent policies to safeguard privacy and build trust. 

In this video, Frank Spillers discusses safety in AR: 

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Address the Learning Curve 

Comprehensive onboarding, training and ongoing support is key to empower employees. If they can confidently use AR tools, then the organization can leverage the full potential of AR and ensure it effectively revolutionizes workplace practices. 

Prepare for the Future  

As workplace dynamics continue to evolve, UX designers must anticipate future needs and scenarios where AR can play a transformative role. This foresight enables the design of adaptable and scalable AR applications that can grow and evolve in line with technological advancements and changing workplace requirements. 

Workplace AR and VR: What’s the Difference?

An image showing a man with a VR headset, in a virtual environment.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Workplace AR and Virtual Reality (VR) both offer amazing potential in professional settings and beyond. However, due to their inherent technological differences, they serve different purposes and create distinct experiences. 

Augmented Reality in the Workplace 

In the workplace, AR can provide real-time data, assist with task visualization, and offer hands-on training without removing the worker from their physical space. This dual interaction with the digital and physical realms makes AR particularly useful for tasks that require constant awareness of the real-world environment, such as manufacturing, repair, or surgery. 

Virtual Reality in the Workplace 

Conversely, VR creates a fully immersive digital environment, which isolates the user from their physical surroundings. This total immersion allows for deep focus and engagement with the virtual content––this makes VR ideal for scenarios where a distraction-free environment is crucial. In professional settings, VR is often used for training in simulated environments that would be too dangerous, expensive, or impractical to replicate in the real world, such as firefighting, pilot training, or complex surgical procedures. 

Key Differences 

  • Immersion level: AR integrates digital elements with the real world and maintains the user's connection to their surroundings. VR, however, immerses the user entirely in a digital environment, cutting off all real-world interaction. 

    An illustration showing the different levels of immersion or AR, MR, VR and Social VR.

    Augmented reality and workplace AR are less immersive than their VR counterparts. 

    © Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

    • Application use cases: AR's real-world integration makes it suited for enhancing day-to-day tasks with additional information and guidance. VR's total immersion is best for training, simulation, and scenarios where physical presence in the actual environment isn't necessary or possible. 

    • Hardware requirements: AR can often be accessed through smartphones, tablets, or specialized glasses, allowing for more flexibility and broader application in various work settings. VR requires headsets that may be tethered to powerful computers, limiting mobility but providing a more immersive experience. 

    Both Workplace AR and VR offer innovative ways to enhance productivity, training, and task efficiency, but their applications differ significantly due to AR's enhancement of the real-world environment and VR's creation of a completely immersive digital experience. The choice between AR and VR depends on the specific goals, context, and requirements of the task at hand.  

    The Benefits of Workplace AR 

    One of the critical benefits of AR is its ability to create a more immersive and interactive work environment. This immersion can be particularly useful in industries such as manufacturing, where workers can benefit from a more hands-on approach to training and problem-solving. By using AR, workers can visualize complex processes and machinery more intuitively, which helps them understand and retain information more easily. 

    Another advantage is its ability to streamline workflow processes. Workers can access real-time data and information more intuitively and efficiently through the integration of AR technology into existing systems.  These AR interfaces can help reduce errors and improve accuracy to increase productivity and profitability. 

    Applications of Workplace AR 

    1. Process optimization: Since AR allows users to see additional information in the context of the real world, businesses can use it wherever real-time information is required on the job. For example, retail giant Walmart offers AR solutions to its employees for inventory management. 

    1. Employee training and education: AR can simulate complex (or even hazardous) scenarios and help train employees on how to manage them. This can help companies safeguard employee (and even customer’s) safety, reduce training costs and improve overall productivity. 

    See how Boeing cut production time by 25% with the use of AR: 

    1. Remote assistance: AR can empower employees to tackle problems on-site. For example, auto manufacturers such as Audi and Volkswagen have created dedicated AR-enabled applications to assist their service technicians in diagnosing and repairing vehicles. 

    2. Visualization and presentation: With three-dimensional visualization, designers and product teams can simulate, test and present concepts for physical products much more easily. For example, architects can visualize their 3D models at real-world sites to get a more realistic view of their blueprints before finalizing them. Similarly, urban planners can visualize the impact of large-scale projects before committing resources.  

    3. Navigation: AR can help employees navigate complex work environments such as large factories, construction sites or warehouses. AR applications can also suggest optimized routes based on the employees’ assigned work to save time and fuel.  

Learn More About Workplace AR 

Take our course on UX Design for Augmented Reality

Read this Forbes article on The Rise Of Augmented Reality In The Modern Workplace

Explore Four Ways AR is Transforming the Workplace

See Meta’s vision for Four sectors where AR and VR could help build a better workplace.​​ 

For more examples and use cases, see AR and VR in the Workplace - 8 Benefits & Examples.

Questions about Workplace Ar

How can AR be used for training and development in the workplace?

AR can revolutionize training and development in the workplace through immersive, interactive learning environments that mimic real-world scenarios. AR enables employees to practice skills and procedures in a safe, controlled setting by overlaying digital information onto the physical world. This enhances their learning experience and allows for hands-on training without the risks associated with real-life training––which is particularly valuable for high-risk industries. AR applications can guide users through complex tasks, provide instant feedback, and adapt to individual learning speeds to ensure a personalized training experience that can significantly improve skill acquisition and retention. 

 Additionally, AR supports the visualization of abstract concepts and processes that are difficult to grasp through traditional learning methods. For instance, employees can explore machinery internals or visualize data flows within systems, gaining a deeper understanding of their operations. This capability not only accelerates the learning process but also fosters a more engaging and motivating learning environment. As a result, AR in training and development not only enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of learning programs but also contributes to a more skilled and confident workforce, ready to tackle the challenges of their roles. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality

What are the benefits of using AR for remote collaboration and meetings?

Remote collaboration and meetings with AR brings a new dimension of interaction and engagement that traditional video conferencing cannot match. AR enables participants to share and manipulate 3D models in real-time, which allows for a more comprehensive review and discussion of designs, products, or data visualizations. This capability fosters a collaborative environment where team members can effectively communicate ideas, make changes on the fly, and reach consensus more efficiently. Additionally, AR can recreate the sense of presence, which makes remote participants feel as though they are in the same room, which enhances teamwork and fosters a stronger connection among team members. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality. Watch the video below:  

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How does AR assist in complex task management and execution?

AR assists in complex task management and execution by providing workers with real-time, contextually relevant information overlayed directly onto their physical work environment. This can include step-by-step instructions, safety warnings, and crucial details about equipment or processes, visible through AR glasses or other devices. By guiding workers through tasks in this way, AR minimizes errors, speeds up training, and ensures consistency in how tasks are performed, regardless of the worker's prior experience. This level of guidance is particularly valuable in industries where precision and accuracy are critical, such as manufacturing, maintenance, and healthcare. 

 Moreover, AR enhances the ability to remotely support workers by allowing experts to see what the worker sees and provide live, interactive feedback. This not only reduces downtime by quickly resolving issues but also improves the quality of work by leveraging expert knowledge in real-time. AR's capacity to visually integrate complex data and instructions into the user's field of view streamlines task management makes complex procedures more accessible and less daunting. As a result, AR significantly boosts productivity, safety, and efficiency in task execution, and thus transforms how work is done across various industries. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality.

What industries are currently benefiting from workplace AR?

 

Industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and construction are currently reaping significant benefits from the integration of AR in the workplace. In manufacturing, AR aids in assembly, maintenance, and training, by overlaying digital instructions directly onto machinery and components. This not only accelerates the learning curve for new employees but also reduces errors and downtime by providing immediate access to critical information. Healthcare professionals use AR for enhanced diagnostics, patient education, and precision in surgeries by projecting vital data and imaging directly into their field of view, improving outcomes and patient care. 

Construction and engineering sectors benefit from AR by visualizing projects in their actual environments before construction begins which enables better planning, design, and communication among teams. AR allows for the overlay of digital blueprints onto physical sites, facilitating accurate installations and inspections. Moreover, in retail and design, AR offers customers and clients the ability to preview products or designs in real-world settings, enhancing decision-making and satisfaction. These industries demonstrate how AR's immersive and interactive capabilities can significantly enhance efficiency, accuracy, and user experience, leading to innovative practices and improved performance. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality

Can AR improve workplace safety and how?

AR can significantly improve workplace safety by providing employees with real-time information and warnings about potential hazards in their immediate environment. For instance, AR can highlight dangerous zones within a factory floor or construction site, ensuring workers are aware of risks like moving machinery or open ledges. Additionally, AR can display safety protocols and emergency procedures directly in the user's line of sight, ensuring quick and correct responses to incidents, which is crucial in high-risk environments. 

 Moreover, AR facilitates safety training in a more engaging and effective manner by simulating dangerous scenarios in a controlled, risk-free virtual environment. Workers can practice responding to emergencies, such as fires or equipment malfunctions, without the actual danger. This hands-on approach to training not only reinforces safety procedures but also improves confidence and preparedness among employees, reducing accidents and enhancing overall workplace safety. Through these applications, AR acts as a critical tool in preventing workplace injuries and fostering a culture of safety. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality

What are the challenges of integrating AR into existing workflows?

Integrating AR into existing workflows presents several challenges, including the need for significant technological investment and infrastructure upgrades. Companies must acquire AR-capable hardware and develop or procure specialized software applications tailored to their specific industry needs. This initial setup requires a substantial financial investment and may encounter resistance from stakeholders concerned about costs and return on investment. Additionally, the existing IT infrastructure may need updates to support the seamless operation of AR technologies, involving further expenses and potential disruptions to ongoing operations. 

 Another challenge is the user adoption and training required to effectively utilize AR in daily tasks. Employees may be resistant to adopting new technologies, especially if they perceive them as complicated or unnecessary. To overcome this resistance requires comprehensive training programs and clear demonstrations of AR's benefits to their work processes. Furthermore, integrating AR into workflows must account for ergonomic considerations and the potential for cognitive overload, ensuring that AR tools enhance rather than hinder job performance.  

Learn more about AR design in this article, How to Use the Environment in Your AR Experience.

How does AR facilitate data visualization and decision-making in professional settings?

AR facilitates data visualization in professional settings by overlaying complex data sets and analytics onto the real world to make abstract information tangible and easier to understand. This technology enables professionals to interact with 3D models and simulations in their actual environment, allowing for a more intuitive grasp of data patterns, trends, and anomalies. For example, engineers can visualize infrastructure projects within a physical context, or healthcare professionals can examine medical data superimposed on a patient's body. This immersive approach to data analysis not only speeds up the comprehension process but also enhances accuracy in decision-making. 

AR supports collaborative decision-making by allowing multiple users to view and interact with the same data visualization in real-time, regardless of their physical location. Teams can manipulate data, explore different scenarios, and make informed decisions together in a shared virtual space. This capability streamlines the decision-making process, fosters a collaborative work environment, and leads to more effective problem-solving.  

Learn more about data visualization in our course, Information Visualization

What hardware and software requirements are needed for implementing AR in the workplace?

The Implementation of AR in the workplace requires a combination of specialized hardware and software tailored to the specific needs of the industry and tasks at hand. Essential hardware includes AR headsets or glasses, which provide the most immersive experience by overlaying digital information onto the user’s field of vision. Alternatively, smartphones and tablets equipped with AR capabilities can also serve as accessible platforms for AR applications, offering a more cost-effective solution for businesses starting with AR. These devices must have sufficient processing power, high-resolution displays, and accurate sensors (such as GPS, gyroscope, and accelerometer) to support complex AR experiences. 

 On the software side, AR applications customized for specific workplace tasks are necessary to provide relevant, interactive content. This might involve development platforms like ARKit for iOS and ARCore for Android that allow for the creation of AR experiences. Additionally, cloud-based services are often required to store and manage the vast amounts of data involved in AR applications to ensure smooth and responsive performance. To integrate AR seamlessly into existing workflows, compatibility with current IT infrastructure and software ecosystems is crucial, which may require additional software tools for content management, data analysis, and security measures to protect sensitive information. 

Learn more about AR in our course, UX Design for Augmented Reality

Literature on Workplace AR

Here’s the entire UX literature on Workplace AR by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Workplace AR

Take a deep dive into Workplace AR with our course UX Design for Augmented Reality .

Augmented reality has emerged as a transformative technology, allowing us to blend the digital and physical worlds to enhance our daily lives. However, the path to create seamless and intuitive user experiences in AR presents unique challenges. This course equips you with the knowledge and skills to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of AR.

UX Design for Augmented Reality is taught by UX expert Frank Spillers, CEO and founder of the renowned UX consultancy Experience Dynamics. Frank is an expert in AR and VR and has 22 years of UX experience with Fortune 500 clients, including Nike, Intel, Microsoft, HP, and Capital One.

In this course, you will explore the entire design process of AR, along with the theory and guidelines to determine what makes a good AR experience. Through hands-on exercises and discussions, you will explore and discuss topics such as safety in AR, how to determine whether AR is the right platform for your idea, and what real-world spaces have potential as stages for AR experiences.

In lesson 1, you will learn the origins of AR, what makes it unique, and its colossal impact on human-computer interaction.

In lesson 2, you will dive into user research practices tailored to AR and its unique characteristics.

In lesson 3, you will dig into how to prototype for AR and create low-fi but testable prototypes.

In lesson 4, you will learn the heuristics and guidelines to test your designs and ensure they are practical and user-friendly.

Throughout the course, you'll get practical tips to apply in real-life projects. In the Portfolio projects, you'll build a foundation of an AR product. This will allow you to create a portfolio case study to entice recruiters or developers to make your dream a reality.

Use your industry-recognized Course Certificate on your resume, CV, LinkedIn profile, or website.

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