Author: Ranganath Jois, COO, MetaCog Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
It is interesting to know that Augmented Reality (AR) is gaining grounds in the Supply Chain area as well. In this article, we take a holistic look at this immersive technology and its impact on the supply chain business worldwide.
But first, what is AR?
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual and sound and direction etc. The overlaid sensory information can be constructive (i.e. additive to the natural environment) or destructive (i.e. masking of the natural environment) and is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world such that it is perceived as an immersive aspect of the real environment.
In this way, augmented reality alters one’s ongoing perception of a real-world environment. The primary value of augmented reality is that it brings components of the digital world into a person’s perception of the real-world and does so not as a simple display of data, but through the integration of immersive sensations that are perceived as natural parts of an environment.
The earliest AR implementations were in the Military domain and the entertainment/ gaming/ simulation space, but now other industries are also getting interested about AR’s possibilities. For example in knowledge sharing, educating, managing the information flood and organising distant meetings. Augmented reality is also transforming the world of education, where content may be accessed by scanning or viewing an image with a mobile device. Another example is an AR helmet for construction workers which display information about the construction sites.
Some of the areas where AR could be a game changer are:
The Courier industry, especially DHL, uses AR to make the order picking process faster and less prone to error. By using smart glasses, employees can see exactly where items should fit on carts while they are picking orders. These smart lenses keep the picking lists in view of the order picker at all times, and shows them the most efficient route through the warehouse.
Not only does using AR reduce errors and increase order picking speed, it also reduces the need for intensive on the job training. That’s extremely important in this particular niche as temporary and entry level employees commonly hold these positions.
Large retailers, like Amazon, often have manufacturing facilities, distribution centres, and warehouses spread across the length and breadth of the globe. At any given time, managers may not be on site. In spite of this, they still need to be on top of things. By using any number of virtual reality or augmented reality tools, these managers can get a real time look at any site at any time to ensure that processes are running as planned. This is particularly important when natural disasters and other issues have caused supply chain management disruptions, and key personnel aren’t able to be on site.
Promotions in Retail Stores:
Real-time promotions in retail stores like the Targets and Walmart, is another area where AR solutions can be deployed to customise offers to the individual shoppers. Depending on the amount of time spent at a counter, past shopping history and credit scores, AR solutions can display customised, personalised offers to select customers. This could be a game changer in the retail business. A very similar offer could be made to people driving/ moving close to an eat out during lunch or dinner time where a special discount can be offered to people passing by.
By linking past purchase history, inventory and consumer behaviour, all in real-time, retail stores can help customers decide quickly to buy a product at a discount.
Amazon Files Patent Application for Employee AR Goggles
By Rebecca Hills-Duty Last updated Aug 7, 2018
Amazon has faced criticism of late for how some of its employees are treated, particularly in its vast network of warehouses. Some reports claim that employees are constantly under surveillance, and subject to difficult productivity targets. Some analysts are now saying that its recent patent applications for augmented reality (AR) goggles designed specifically for employees will only make this situation worse.
The company has filed an application for AR goggles designed specifically for warehouse staff, with the title ‘Augmented Reality User Interface Facilitating Fulfilment’, which consists of AR glasses connected to a worn or carried computing device. The AR goggles are designed to assist in the navigation of the often vast warehouses where Amazon stores its expansive product range, showing on-screen directions to the next product needing to be pulled off the shelves.
Critics have pointed this as evidence that Amazon are looking at even more intrusive ways of keeping tabs on its employees, and potentially even tougher targets.