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AR actually makes us better

Robert Combier
Robert Combier
POSTED December 9th, 2020

Technology has indisputably made our lives easier, but has it made us any better? (Will your new camera actually make you a better photographer?)

We can now communicate instantly, travel further, and machines have revolutionized production, but why does it still take decades of in-person teaching (or 10,000 hours) to create an expert human? You might say that, well, we won’t need expert humans… but I would argue that as products and services become increasingly more complex, they are in-fact more necessary. 

To prove my point, think about the moment when your flight is about to take off, but the captain announces that there’s a problem and you have to wait hours until “they” can fix it. Who are “they” anyway?  And why are “they” seemingly always in short supply? They — the Expert Humans will likely remain a single point of failure (or success) — and all the King’s, robots,  carbon fiber and computers can’t put Humpty your Boeing 787 back together again, until the right “they” get here to fix it. 

Despite millions of lines of code and dozens of service personnel, the fact that there’s only one expert among them means your flight is delayed.

Let’s make more of Them, then

I mentioned previously that it takes 10,000 hours to make an expert or reach mastery of a topic — and it is often true in many professions. The outcome of that time is a brain that has been through thousands of problems, situations, and developed higher order mental models for solving them. What is difficult and precious is that this person can now pattern match problems, associate solutions, and navigate around critical “gotchas.”

So how can we make 100 or even a 1000 times more of… “them”, the walking technological problem solvers? At Scope AR, we believe we can make — or convert– them on demand, and instantly.

And we do it by tightly integrating the human sensory system to the digital data system.

The Human as a Data System

If you treat the human like a data system, and you have lots of complex information to transfer, it follows that you would want dense expert knowledge to transfer through the sensory channel with the highest bandwidth.

So what are the equivalent baud rates of the senses? This has been documented in physiology literature.

Information transmissions rates of the senses

Sensory SystemBits per second
Eyes / Visual10,000,000
Skin / Tactile1,000,000
Ears / Auditory100,000
Nose / Olfactory100,000
Taste / Gustatory1,000
Source: https://www.britannica.com/science/information-theory/Physiology

Our eyes and visual circuitry are incredibly evolved: they process light intensity, color, spatial nuances— it is the information superhighway into the mind. An infamous example:

George W Bush’s 3D spatial recognition and visual nervous system performs perfectly to dodge the shoe, despite less than 250ms of time to process a threat and activate a response.

What about reading?

Reading is visual right? Can’t we ingest gigabytes of information by reading with our eyes? 

Unfortunately, reading is bottlenecked by an auditory process. Yes, the eyes ingest the symbols, but those are actually converted to sounds and enter the brain through the auditory channel. It’s why you “hear” words in your head as you read. The downside is that as an upload link to a data system, it is limited to 100kbits per second, which is around 100X slower than the visual channel. It’s also why you take forever to assemble IKEA furniture the first time, but the second time through is much faster. The second time, you are “seeing” the steps through memory, and leveraging visual-spatial circuitry to guide you through the process.

Why is visual information in 3D so critical for field service?

Humans progress through what military tacticians call the OODA loop: Observation, Orientation, Decision and Action.  Observation and Orientation are visual in nature and critical before decisions and actions can be successful.  The faster technology can help humans compress these two stages of decision support, the more work can get done without any loss of precision.  However, with the sky-rocketing sophistication of technology and the exponential rise of machine-to-machine operations, overall complexity is making observation and orientation even more difficult.  Yet human decision support remains vital to the smooth operation of these systems of systems.  The faster technology can detect anomalies, catalog symptoms and direct attention, the more a technician can focus on the critical thinking required for precise intervention and execution.  The more visual the technology, the higher force multiplication of the human supercomputer.

Bringing high speed expertise into a better reality

To do this, we developed the first augmented reality for industrial enterprise environments, for the hidden layer of experts and technicians that fix your plane at the departure gate… and the results are staggering. We repeatedly see 10X faster completion rate of complex tasks, 10,000X considering skipping formal training, and 5X higher “first time right”. And we ve found that it works across industries. Consider the magnitude of making every human in your operations network 10X better.

With so many new things out there that compete to make us worse, not better— that force or distract the “them” not to be “there”… the time is now to turn our technology into a way that augments ourselves and our ultimately world.