Productivity in the Age of Mixed Reality

In the past few years we’ve witnessed the launch of more than a dozen HMDs (Head Mounted Displays). Several of them are already available in large numbers. HMDs focused on entertainment (Oculus, Vive) rely on taking over visual perception completely via Virtual Reality. HMDs focused on productivity (HoloLens) mix real life with computer generated imagery drawn upon a transparent display. There are other combinations and means of mixing visual information, so all of this technology has recently been put under the umbrella term Mixed Reality.

This post concerns the productivity aspects of Mixed Reality. It’s a topic I’ve been meaning to play with for more than a year. I find it quite fitting to debut the Futurology^ section on Mentatul with this text, especially since just as I was preparing to write, I stumbled upon the following news (this has to be the work of a muse):

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/microsoft-trials-hololens-technologies-construction,33490.html^

The purpose behind any post in the Futurology^ category is to launch a wild, boundless speculation regarding what he future holds regarding a certain concept. To get things going, here are some of the things I imagine can be accomplished in the future (productivity-wise) using Mixed Reality.

I’ll list my ideas chronologically, starting with the first things that came to my mind back when I read about what Google Glass can do. Feel free to submit your own ideas in the comments below. With your approval I may integrate these in the article, giving proper credit.

  • Workers are busy adding the finishing touches to a building. Using an HMD similar to a pair of glasses (like HoloLens for instance), they see the position of all other workers, as if they would see through walls. All wiring and pipes are also drawn in their exact positions inside the walls as the user looks around.
    All workers see directions pointing them towards the location of the next task. Let’s take for example the installation of a network socket. The worker is helped to locate all tools required for the task. After the task is completed, a test immediately shows if the connection is successful. If it is not, the worker can simply look around through the walls and see where to go and fix the connection.
  • Operators of large machinery are assisted in anything they do by architectural plans projected over real life terrain. Machines are integrated with this projection and “snap” automatically to the highlighted locations, needing only rough supervision. Of course, operators will soon become completely unnecessary because…
  • Architects are allowed to control and direct robots directly from their office. Work done in CAD applications, after passing several simulations and authorizations, is downloadable by robots that simply print out the structures. Architects are able to use Mixed Reality to fly around the construction site from the comfort of their homes. This technology can be used to construct human-ready colonies as well as mining stations anywhere in the solar system.
  • Before AI becomes sufficiently advanced to perform all these tasks, humans are recruited to supervise the operation of these robots (as is already done in the mining industry^). Gamers might find employment opportunities in a future that relies on a person’s multi-tasking skill, quick reflexes and ability to channel one’s mind into an alternate reality. Think of it as a huge real time strategy game where a gamer controls an army of construction robots.
  • Taking this to the next step, humans supervise self-driving vehicles that are stuck for some reason or require human intervention. Planes, boats and anything that moves is accessible in a “first person” view.
  • The security implications of all that I’ve written are enormously hugely massively gargantuan, and that’s an understatement. However, quantum cryptography might address this issue.
  • Repair manuals are displayed onto a device as the user is fixing it (this tech already on its way!^). With a good system in place for spare parts management, this enables any reasonably handy person to fix almost anything. Of course, this means that the religion of Consumerism^ should give up on one of its founding principles: planned obsolescence.
  • Taking this one step further, in times of crisis when a hospital is not accessible, simple surgical programs can help lightly trained individuals to perform tasks that would normally be beyond their capability.

The Futurology Disclaimer: I do not claim that my ideas are original. I’m sure these suggestions are just scratching the surface of what can be achieved, but hopefully they’ve scratched enough to get anybody inspired to come up with more. I’m also sure many of these ideas are already being worked on by several organizations. If any of the ideas listed by anybody on this page are original and will benefit any organization, I expect credit to be given where it’s due.

Version history:

2017-02-08 – 1.0 – Written.

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