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Will augmented reality revolutionize training?

There has been a lot of talking in the last past years on the Internet of Things and how our lives will be more and more interconnected with technology. Wearable computers are the means and augmented reality is the interface between what we know to be the real world and the so called virtual world.

Augmented reality (AR), although still in its infancy if we consider its spread, promises to set high standards of connectivity for the not so distant future. To an extent, it can be compared to the mobile phone, which was once an unrealistic dream and has now become the norm. From open-cord surgery performed by anyone, to simulating the conditions of Mars, or studying a bigger part of the cosmos, augmented reality seems to be a basic step in achieving all these far-fetched ideas.

How augmented reality affects business training

In today's crazy, crowded and fiercely competitive world, businesses need to develop more complex products and services and they need to address larger, even global audiences. Therefore, the demand for training and support grows exponentially. In order to keep a competitive advantage in the future, it's compulsory for businesses to find creative and innovative ways to overcome these challenges.

Augmented reality is — or can become — a reasonable option for these situations, thanks to its added value through lower costs and increased productivity.

Although AR may not be a silver bullet solving all problems, it is very promising for a significant number of uses, such as specific training and performance support, or sales and customer training.

AR can support situational learning, by showing employees what to do or where to go during a specific business process or procedure. Also, due to the fact that employees can manipulate virtual objects, or even real objects by following AR guidelines, they engage more senses into the learning process. Learning by doing has always had better results than learning by reading or by watching others.

Both situational learning and sensorial learning are sustained by augmented reality, and this will improve retention rates, which is what L&D professionals everywhere strive to achieve.

Is AR just the latest fad?

Despite all the hype surrounding AR and augmented learning, these concepts are not yet mainstream.

Visionaries look at all the possibilities and say that Google Glass and other such AR technologies barely scratch the surface of what's yet to come. But all these possibilities must first be tested and transformed into probabilities and later into certainties.

For the moment, these visionaries have rather few figures (which, we are told, never lie) to back up their claims. However, those few researches picture a bright future for augmented reality. For example, according to Gartner, AR provides the highest benefit to efficiency. It has the potential to improve productivity, provide hands-on experience, simplify current processes, increase available information, provide real-time access to data, offer new ways to visualize problems and solutions, and enhance collaboration. IT organizations can use AR to bridge the digital and physical world. AR is an opportunity for IT to provide leadership to enhance the enterprise's interaction with its internal user base.

The most interesting research on the impact of augmented reality over business training is the one made by Boeing with Iowa State University last year. Their findings put AR responsible for a 30% reduction in time of task completions and a whooping 90% improvement in quality at the first attempt. Find out more about what they studied, the methodology used and other results here, here, and here.


Will augmented reality revolutionize the way we do business training? If so, how much time will be needed for AR to become the norm — not only in our day to day lives, but also in our learning processes?

I'll leave you to ponder upon these questions. Please share your thoughts about the uses and possibilities in including AR in corporate learning in the comments section below.