Opportunities, Challenges and Predictions for AR & VR

Confession: I’ve never played Pokemon Go. I haven't even downloaded the app to my phone.  I certainly agree with the benefits of going outdoors and getting some exercise, but when you're on the clock, you need to be working! With that said, I've really enjoyed the memes on social media.

And the truth is that this blog post isn't about Pokemon Go. This post is about key takeaways from July 21st, 2016 Enterprise Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) session of the Wireless Technology Forum.

I previously posted about The Coming Renaissance of Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)  from the Wireless Forum's October 15, 2015 session, and while I still stand by my previous post, the session on July 21, 2016 brought out more challenges and opportunities.


We are starting to see ROI value from AR / VR applications in enterprise.

Andrew Sugaya, Director of Partnerships, APX Labs reduced manufacturing errors from 3% to 0%, and increased worker productivity up to 30% with APX's solution.  Their hands-free headset detects the problem and provides the worker with the correct troubleshooting solution. Andrew's position is that this brings new workers from beginner to expert competency almost instantaneously. WATCH THE DEMO HERE

Jim Fletcher, IBM Watson, reduced on-the-job accidents with AR headsets that warned workers before they become in contact with a dangerous object. Jim went on to explain that workers comp lawsuits are expensive and preventing accidents is a win-win for both the worker (not getting injured in the first place) and preventing lawsuits for the employer.

During the showcase, Maribeth Gandy, PhD., provided an immersive AR application for researchers to study social triggers. This same system is also used to train doctors in the operating room (OR) to better communicate with their team. WATCH THE DEMO HERE. Miscommunication in the OR can lead to horrible patient outcomes;  prevention of this situation with AR training not only improves patient outcomes, but financially reduces malpractice lawsuits.


Unfortunately, the challenges around AR / VR are tremendous. As a group, the speakers equated current AR/VR to the bag phone from the early 90's. You gotta start somewhere. Right? Photo Credit: Trent021 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Social Wearability - Can I wear my AR/VR wearable headset in public? Will someone call the cops when I'm seen gesturing to my AR device in public? Christopher (C3) Croteau, Intel noticed that at a recent AR conference he attended, no one wore AR devices outside of their demo booth. Maribeth Gandy, PhD., cited a company that developed a touch interface belt buckle to control their wearable product. Unfortunately, the belt buckle touching was found to be socially unacceptable and never took off.
  • Security & Privacy - What if my headset that is recording all of my locations and my data is hacked?
  • Environment - Several panelists cited examples of prototypes that worked great in the lab, but failed in the field because environmental conditions were not considered. For example, a prototype was developed with speech recognition, but failed in the field because the loud manufacturing environment wasn't considered.
  • Development - There's no "Wordpress" standard, simple authoring tool for AR or VR applications.
  • Prototyping - When designing webpages, wireframes are usually created first. Due to the 360 views and interactive elements, we don't have a good "wireframe" design system for AR/VR.
  • Labor Unions & Job Security - In my opinion, this could be the biggest challenge to AR/VR. Maribeth Gandy, PhD. explained that coal miners were provided sensors to alert them of dangerous air conditions in the mine. The developers later found out that none of the sensors were used.  The miners would remove the sensors once they entered the mine because they thought the sensor was also a tracking device and threatened their job security. Christopher (C3) Croteau was unable to implement AR/VR with a company because the union negotiated 2 hours pay for a job that actually took 45 minutes. Let's go back to Andrew Sugaya's case study of bringing beginner level employees to expert level with his AR headset. How many employers would replace higher paid experienced workers with lower paid novices?

Predictions for AR / VR

  • Hybridization - Technical writers will need to program holograms / graphic content through game engines instead of 2D diagrams and text.
  • Standard Platform Development - One or more standard platforms will be created to make AR / VR development easier and more accessible to non-programmers. Similar to what we see with WordPress vs. Drupal vs. Joomla, etc today. Maribeth Gandy, Ph.D. predicts this tool will integrate with existing tools today.
  • More Enterprise applications with real ROI value will start to emerge and create mass adoption.

But for now, let's get back to Pokemon Go.

Still reading? Watch all videos from the session here:


Moderator: Matt Walsh, Director of Business Development for Strategic Categories in AT&T’s IoT Solutions Group

Special Thanks for Bob McIntyre for leading this session with Josephine Nord; Ashok Kumar, Wireless Forum Programs Director, and Nicole Leeper for coordinating logistics.