The Future: Making Augmented Reality

New technology makes remote workers more effective and is green for the planet

By Robin Rowe

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (Venture Hollywood) 2019/6/3 – As an innovation expert, I’ve been working with Lenovo as their enterprise augmented reality strategist. With Lenovo’s announcement of the ThinkReality A6 headset, my work there is done, at least for now.

Lenovo ThinkReality A6

Lenovo ThinkReality A6

 

Lenovo enterprise augmented reality has a fantastic engineering group, with teams working in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Lenovo has 50,000 workers worldwide and is recognized as a top 100 company for remote workers.

“In the U.S. over 90 percent of Lenovo employees have access to flexible work arrangements,” says Lenovo Director of Global Diversity Seth Smiley-Humphries. “And, more than 90 percent of them take advantage of those benefits.”

“There’s a major shift happening in the traditional workplace,” says Lenovo executive Preben Fjeld, “and technology is a huge part of that.”

Like many people, I prefer not to commute. By avoiding commuting, I gain productive time. And, it feels great to be green. While I choose to drive a fuel-efficient Prius, it is better for the planet not to burn gasoline at all. AR headset technology is about to make that a lot more practical.

What is an AR headset? A typical AR headset like Microsoft Hololens is a heads-up display that projects onto the back of glasses instead of onto the back of a cockpit windshield. Another completely different approach to AR heads-up display is putting a VR headset into Tron-mode, overlaying data onto a front-facing pass-through camera. And Bose makes a headset that has no visual display at all, is speakers built into sunglasses.

Iron Man AR with computer vision data overlay

Iron Man AR showing Tron-mode computer vision data overlay

 

So that’s the hardware. What’s the best AR software? Here are two top enterprise apps…

Remote Expert is an AR paradigm where a remote technician sees on his or her screen what the AR headset user sees through the headset’s front-facing camera. And the headset user sees the remote expert as a ghostly hologram, like the robot R2-D2 projected the video of Princess Leia in Star Wars.

Managed Checklists is an AR paradigm where a checklist is displayed in the AR heads-up display. The user checks off each procedure as it is completed. Applications in tech maintenance and healthcare. Hospitals are particularly interested in this technology because it can document that procedures were followed, a defense against malpractice lawsuits.

AR faces many reliability challenges as a hands-free operating system, is early days. With no keyboard or mouse, we must employ other means of user interaction: speech recognition, gaze, gesture. The most important take-away is that this new technology is coming to empower remote working in ways we haven’t been able to do before.

A future is coming when we won’t buy mobile phones anymore because our mobile phones are built right into our glasses or sunglasses. In anticipation of that future, Lenovo, Facebook, Magic Leap, Bose and many other companies are spending billions on R&D and product innovation. It’s an exciting time in AR and thrilling to be a part of it.

About Robin Rowe

Robin Rowe (April 2019, Technicolor)

Robin Rowe (April 2019, Technicolor)

Robin Rowe is a Fortune 500 innovation consultant and the CEO of Venture Hollywood, a think tank that tackles challenge problems in high tech innovation. He founded a Fortune 500 research lab for speech recognition and digital video. He’s managed two Fortune 500 high tech divisions. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

  • At NBC-TV, he built one of the first autonomous television studios to replace human camera operators with robots.
  • As a navy research scientist, he built one of the first VR war gaming systems.
  • He’s the architect of VR real-time mo-cap technology that Hollywood uses to add visual effects to major motion pictures, to produce AAA game trailers, and that Mattel uses to animate a hit Barbie cartoon series.
  • As a DARPA project manager, he created a real-time television monitoring system to alert military analysts within seconds to topics of concern in breaking news.
  • He’s the architect of a remote non-linear video editing system installed at 100 TV stations for producing broadcast news.
  • He’s taught C++ software design at the University of Washington and the Naval Postgraduate School.
  • He’s a writer for Popular Science and many other magazines and newspapers.