Technology That Can Save Your Business

Empowering Workers: How Effective Is AR on the Job?

December 15, 2016

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Picture, if you will, a large facility that produces pipes. Specifically, 110 tons of seamless steel pipes every hour.

Now, imagine being an employee in this production facility, your work life defined by full days of walking from the control room to the production floor to the control room to the production floor.

The constant trips back and forth to the control room are necessary to check in on the real-time data points necessary to your job. The trips to the production floor are necessary for continued production.

As you might imagine, what you gain in leg muscles, you lose in time and efficiency.

This job is a real one and it happens in steel fabrication plants all over the world. It’s a serious operation facing a very serious problem: how to keep things efficient when critical data points — thousands of them — are housed in a centralized control room off the production floor.

So, how do you simplify a complex system? The answer — an AR-enabled decentralized control room.

Wearable Control Rooms

As you probably guessed, these control rooms weren’t control rooms. In fact, they were DAQRI Smart Helmets built to provide the power of augmented reality technology in the workplace.

We’ve talked previously about how AR is applied to work, but not about the impact it can have, and the impact is profound.

In the case studies, individual worker productivity increased by 40% and overall factory downtime — a huge expense — was halved. That’s efficiency in action.

Or more accurately, it was DAQRI Smart Helmet in action, which could read markers on the production floor and pull up — on the worker’s in-helmet visor — the relevant data they otherwise would have needed to retrieve from the control room.

The Argument for AR

How else has AR been proven to be effective in the workplace?

Well, in a study conducted by Boeing and Iowa State University, a lot of powerful implications for the technology were tracked scientifically. A group of employees were given AR-based work instructions for a new set of tasks. Their results were then compared with a control group of employees given traditional desktop instructions for the same task. The findings broke out into four categories.


The first, and probably most striking, was accuracy. The trainees that were given AR-based instructions made fewer errors by a factor of 16-to-1. It’s kind of staggering. For every one mistake made by an AR-trained employee, a desktop-trained counterpart made 16.

Further, the second time they attempted the task, the AR-based trainees made zero mistakes. Overall, the AR instructions improved first-time quality — that is, “the ability for a novice trainee with little or no experience to perform an operation the first time with no errors” — by 94%.

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The second category was speed.

Trainees using AR don’t just do the job more precisely, they do it faster. On average, 30% faster, but in some cases 50% faster — half the time it took their desktop-instruction counterparts to complete the same task.

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Third, the trainees who were given AR instructions were more focused.

Using desktop training, the control group had to keep looking back and forth between a computer screen with instructions and the hands-on task they were being trained to do. With AR-based instructions, there is no bouncing back and forth between instructions and task. The instructions and the task itself exist in the same physical space.

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And finally, the trainees liked it.

After the experiment, the AR-trained employees were asked if they agreed with the statement “I would recommend work instructions like this to a friend.” Those results were compared against the median result for similar questions asked at 400 companies in 28 industries.

The AR-based trainees answered in the affirmative at a rate about four times higher than employees in the other data set.

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The Future of Work

So, both in an experimental setting and out in the field, AR-based workplace instructions are winning in the hard metrics (speed, efficiency, and accuracy) and the soft ones (worker focus and satisfaction).

And this doesn’t just hold true for steel companies or airplane manufacturers. Innovators around the world are using DAQRI Smart Helmet to accelerate their groundbreaking work. Among them, Parker Hannifin and Emerson are revolutionizing everything from engineering, to electronics, to ways in which we reduce food waste.

But beyond even that, the potential for AR-based instructions in the workplace are far-reaching. Any occupation that requires instructions has the potential to be faster, more accurate, more efficient and — most importantly — a better experience for the worker. And that is what DAQRI is all about.

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