Last updated: 17.01.14

Augmented reality to transform business training

Augmented reality (AR) technology could become a powerful tool in workplace training over the coming years.

This is according to research giant Gartner, which claimed in a new report that while AR is still in its infancy, it has extraordinary business potential in a number of company operations, including staff training and workflows.

It said AR paves the way for innovation by facilitating immediate decision-making and the visualisation of content, plus it allows employees to interact in an engaging and flexible fashion.

Tuong Huy Nguyen, principal research analyst at Gartner, explained that AR is the real-time use of information in the form of text, audio, graphics and other virtual aids integrated with real-world objects.

He added that it leverages and optimises the use of other technologies and "is especially useful in the mobile environment because it enhances the user's senses via digital instruments to allow faster responses or decision-making".

Other ways businesses can use AR include providing staff with hands-on experiences, simplifying existing processes, strengthening collaboration, increasing the amount of data that's available and rolling out more interactive training resources.

Gartner has predicted that over the next five years, moderate adoption of AR for internal purposes will rise with the growing availability of powerful handheld devices like smartphones, tablets and portable head-mounted displays that make AR applications more accessible.

According to Mr Nguyen, companies can use AR to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, and the technology presents opportunities for IT departments to enhance their firm's interaction with its internal user base.

He said: "AR is most useful as a tool in industries where workers are either in the field, do not have immediate access to information, or jobs that require one or both hands and the operator's attention."

This report comes after a separate Gartner publication suggested wearable technology such as smart glasses could also become a major feature of workplace training, predicting that the number of US organisations to implement the technology will increase from less than one per cent at present to ten per cent over the next five years.