Could augmented reality, or AR, be the way forward for the manufacturing workforce? The problems manufacturing faces with building a skilled workforce have been well documented. New workers coming into the plant are faced with having to adapt to a new work environment of collaborative robots and machine learning-driven applications. At the same time, they have to maintain, or in some cases re-learn, the legacy knowledge that is being lost as older generations exit the workforce. Can AR, an interactive experience of a real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, solve that problem?
Plenty of companies, from large entities like Microsoft to smaller companies and even startups, are pointing AR toward the challenge of worker training. In theory, it could allow trainees an up close look at incredibly complicated machines, and give them an opportunity to work with them in a way that simulates the experience far more effectively than a traditional classroom could, while also keeping them from having to operate the real thing before they are ready. The technology though is still new, and until its is more refined there are reasons to be skeptical of how effectively it could replicate the experience.