How an Augmented Connected Workforce Will Reshape Industries

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Augmented Connected Workforce, driven by technologies such as AR and IoT, is reshaping industries, presenting both opportunities and challenges. Innovative tools in workforce connectivity and manufacturing precision makes the office of the 2020s very different from the 2010s.

In the rapidly evolving digital world, the Augmented Connected Workforce emerges as a transformative catalyst, fueled by Augmented Reality (AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), and seamless connectivity.

Gartner recognizes the Augmented Connected Workforce as a top-ten trend for 2024, encapsulating the profound integration of cutting-edge technologies that present vast opportunities and formidable challenges.

At its core, this concept empowers employees through augmentation technologies, fostering capabilities that surpass traditional boundaries. Augmented technologies such as AR, Mixed Reality, Computer Vision, IoT, artificial intelligence, exoskeletons, and collaborative robots converge to create a connected workforce capable of groundbreaking workflows that will make industry a different landscape in the future.

The Technological Backbone of the Augmented Connected Workforce

The foundation of the Augmented Connected Workforce is supported by AR and IoT technologies.

AR overlays digital information onto the physical world, creating immersive and interactive experiences. Its applications span diverse industries and offer benefits such as improved manufacturing processes and enhancements in healthcare, education, and remote work environments. An important role of AR lies in training and skill development, providing real-time guidance to reduce errors and boost efficiency.

The technology complementing AR is the IoT, a network that connects devices for seamless communication and data sharing.

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The significance of IoT in the connected workforce lies in its ability to deliver real-time data, empowering informed decision-making. By gathering and analyzing data from various sources, IoT equips workers with tools to proactively address challenges before they escalate.

Together, AR and IoT create the backbone of the Augmented Connected Workforce. This integration facilitates more effective collaboration among workers, enhances decision-making capabilities, and contributes to overall improvements in productivity and safety.

Revolutionizing Industries with Integration of the Augmented Connected Workforce

In manufacturing, Boeing, a prominent aerospace company, exemplifies this transformative shift by implementing smart glasses in aircraft assembly. Technicians wear AR glasses to access real-time information and instructions, including detailed schematics and assembly steps, superimposed onto their field of view. This innovative approach has proven pivotal in reducing errors, enhancing operational efficiency, and streamlining the obscure process of assembling complex aircraft components.

Likewise, in healthcare, there has also been a revolution with the adoption of Augmented Connected Workforce solutions. AccuVein, a medical technology company, showcases the transformative impact of AR in healthcare through its solution for vein visualization. The handheld AR device projects a map of a patient’s veins directly onto the skin, assisting healthcare professionals in procedures such as taking blood samples. This not only improves accuracy but also minimizes patient discomfort, ultimately leading to increased procedural efficiency.

For remote work environments, Microsoft’s HoloLens, an AR headset, plays a crucial role in collaboration and troubleshooting, particularly in manufacturing and maintenance industries. Technicians equipped with HoloLens receive real-time guidance from experts situated elsewhere. AR annotations, diagrams, and instructions are superimposed onto the technician’s field of view, facilitating issue resolution, minimizing downtime, and reducing the need for physical travel.

Examples of Tools for Workforce Connectivity in a New Era

With the rapid adoption of augmented technologies in industries, several platforms to support Augmented Connected Workforce have been developed. An overview of two such platforms is presented below:

  • Glartek is an integrated platform designed as an all-encompassing Connected Worker solution. It enhances operational efficiency, safety, and training through real-time connectivity, digital work instructions, and impactful procedures like 5S Audit. With a focus on remote assistance and collaboration, Glartek fosters a continuous improvement mindset. Its versatility is evident in customizable solutions and proven real-world impact statistics, making it a suitable tool for seamlessly augmenting and connecting workforces.
  • Another tool named LightGuide focuses on the manufacturing sector with an AR platform specifically designed for workforce transformation. This tool transforms various aspects of manufacturing, including training, safety, productivity, and quality control on the factory floor. By offering features such as projected AR work instructions, real-time guidance, and feedback, LightGuide streamlines complex processes, standardizes tasks, and empowers workers to achieve higher productivity levels. Furthermore, this versatile platform seamlessly integrates with machine vision, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other essential tools, making it an indispensable component of the manufacturing ecosystem.

Challenges, Opportunities, and Economic Impact

Amidst the technological transformation, there exist a range of challenges as well as opportunities that yield significant economic impact.

Security Challenges in a Connected Environment

As industries passionately embrace connectivity, the most crucial task at hand is protecting sensitive data. It becomes imperative to strengthen networks against potential breaches, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of critical information. The rise of interconnected systems also brings forth the formidable challenge of dealing with cybersecurity threats.

It is of utmost importance to remain vigilant against hacking, data breaches, and malicious activities to maintain a secure technological ecosystem. Effectively addressing these security concerns is pivotal in establishing a robust foundation for the seamless integration of connected technologies across industries.

Workforce Adaptation Challenges

Integrating novel technologies into industries necessitates a workforce that is equipped with the knowledge and expertise required for efficient operation in the evolving technological landscape. This highlights the need for comprehensive training programs to bridge the skills gap among employees. However, a significant challenge arises in the form of resistance to change, which is a natural human inclination.

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Overcoming this resistance and promoting a culture of adaptability within the workforce becomes crucial. Successful adaptation to technological shifts relies on the implementation of effective change management strategies, ensuring a harmonious transition towards a technologically empowered workforce.

Economic Impact Challenges and Opportunities

The transformative impact of technology on industries brings both economic challenges and opportunities. Balancing job displacement and creation is crucial, as technological advancements may make certain job roles obsolete while simultaneously creating new opportunities. Maintaining a delicate balance is vital for ensuring a smooth transition in the workforce.

Moreover, embracing technological advancements provides twofold economic benefits. Firstly, optimizing processes for increased efficiency contributes to cost-effectiveness. Secondly, fostering innovation not only drives economic growth but also provides a competitive edge.

The Bottom Line

Augmented Connected Workforce, driven by technologies such as AR and IoT, is reshaping industries, presenting both opportunities and challenges. Innovative tools in workforce connectivity and manufacturing precision highlight the transformative potential.

Addressing security concerns, overcoming workforce adaptation challenges, and balancing economic impacts are pivotal. Successful navigation promises a future where technological integration optimizes efficiency and innovation, leading industries into a new era of collaboration and productivity.

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Assad Abbas

Dr Assad Abbas received his PhD from North Dakota State University (NDSU), USA. He is a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), Islamabad campus, Pakistan. Dr. Abbas has been associated with COMSATS since 2004. His research interests are mainly but not limited to smart health, big data analytics, recommender systems, patent analytics and social network analysis. His research has been published in several prestigious journals, including IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing, IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing, IEEE Systems Journal, IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics,…