Automation will create problems in the enterprise — AR can solve them
There’s no question that automation and artificial intelligence will profoundly reshape how work will get done. They could be as transformational as the IT era was to enterprise business just a generation ago. But how many jobs will be erased in the process? When a company unleashes AI, does it help or hurt its workforce?
I predict that enterprise companies will always need humans. They’ll always need to optimize productivity, improve job satisfaction, close skills gaps and shrink downtime. And today — not years from now — augmented reality platforms can uniquely solve problems where automation and the workforce intersect. Augmented reality can help retain, and even create jobs, that automation can never fill. By providing contextually aware information in a convenient and consumable format, workers now have the ability to pair innately human characteristics, such as critical thinking skills, with knowledge-on-demand to train and gain skill sets on the fly, with little to no previous experience.
Fact or fiction: the robots are coming for your job
By now, the fearful reports are familiar: AI will swallow entire categories of careers, from factory jobs to truck driving to customer service and middle-manager roles. So will AI really kill 20 million manufacturing jobs in the next decade, as Oxford Economics predicts?
I see widespread workforce augmentation as a far more likely outcome than wholesale workforce automation. It’s highly possible that AI can create more jobs than some people worry that it might eliminate. And there’s evidence: according to a report commissioned by ZipRecruiter, in 2018 alone, AI created three times more jobs than it destroyed.
Amazon — no stranger to automation and robot-assisted warehouse facilities — recently made global headlines when they announced a $700 million investment to re-train a third of its workforce with technical skills like coding. It’s a massive initiative that underscores how deeply committed they are to automation technologies, they’re also recognizing they’ll need a highly-skilled workforce to run them. Yes, there will be more robots at Amazon, not fewer. But the company is aiming to address skills gaps that will only widen in coming years. And it’s doing so by investing in 100,000 people, not just automation technologies.
This approach to automation is smart, for two reasons. For many employers, there are two key challenges to managing workforce costs: 1) training, ensuring your people have access to critical knowledge that is easy to find and consume in real-time and 2) retention of the workers you’ve already invested in. Replacing a highly-skilled worker can cost 400 percent of their annual salary, according to one estimate.
Your workforce is already changing
Transformational technologies like AI are advancing quickly, and more companies are finding ways to deploy them as they evolve. As businesses look to AI to reshape their workforce, it’s important to remember that the workforce is already changing, in very human ways.
At many U.S. companies, older employees are aging out of the workforce. According to the Wall Street Journal, the labor force is growing far more slowly than it did in decades prior. Overall productivity has also declined. And, older workers are staying in their jobs for years longer. Massive workforce re-skilling is an option, but it has a very real cost. (Just ask Amazon.)
However, losing a highly-skilled subject matter expert (SME) also carries a critical cost. Unilever, an enterprise customer of ours, told us that in the next five years, they’ll lose 330 years of experience to retirement — in a single facility alone. When an SME retires, your business shouldn’t lose a career’s worth of institutional knowledge. Augmented reality offers businesses an easy way to transfer this knowledge that new-hires need to be successful and retain it long-term to help build the next-generation of a skilled workforce.
Augmentation vs. automation: Why AR is the answer?
In industries like manufacturing, uptime is everything. When something goes wrong, it can adversely impact processes down the line. Faults and failures need to be monitored and corrected as quickly as possible. Human error is the source of nearly a quarter of all unplanned downtime in manufacturing, which cost trillions in losses to businesses each year. How can human error be minimized? AI is a long way off from identifying equipment failures and then automatically fixing them.
Augmented reality, at its core, is a new user interface — a way for humans to visualize and interact with data in more intuitive ways than before. Humans evolved to interact with the world with their hands and their eyes — interacting with 2D data like words and spreadsheets is merely an inaccurate abstraction, and underutilizes one of the most powerful parts of the brain – the visual cortex. The visual cortex enables a person to consume, filter and process vast amounts of information about the real-world, and utilizing this power to interface with the power of computers is an amazing opportunity. In this way, we can augment humanity by merging the best of both worlds; we can leverage the near-infinite and perfect memory capacity of networked computing power, along with the vast processing power of those computer systems, with the intelligent reasoning and extreme adaptability of the human mind and body.
Using this mix, we can leverage the strengths of both while overcoming the weaknesses of both. AI is far from generalized intelligence (although OpenAI is trying), and robots are far from perfect in actuating and interacting with the world. Augmenting humans with contextually relevant data and insights (potentially from IoT and AI systems) can be an extremely beneficial pairing.
In an enterprise context, AR can help workers alleviate downtime and more accurately assemble, repair or conduct maintenance on complex machinery. AR-assisted workers in manufacturing or field service can access contextual digital overlays and step-by-step instructions. They can access previously recorded support sessions, complete with AR annotations, to see how others solved a problem or completed a task on the exact same piece of equipment on which they’re working. And workers can even initiate a live, AR-enabled video session with a remote expert who can see what they see, and talk them through a task, dropping in pre-built AR instructions or drawing on the worker’s real world view to help along the way. It’s expert knowledge, on-demand, shareable across the enterprise and accessible exactly when it’s needed.
While some worry about the impending automation apocalypse as the ultimate job eliminator, AR can create opportunities to build a smarter workforce that will exist alongside automation tools like robots and AI. It’s an ideal platform for transferring and retaining expertise from experts to those learning new skills, regardless of physical location. It can also be used to bridge your company’s data and your employees in the real world, boosting productivity and minimizing costly downtime. And, when workers are more productive and better at their jobs, overall job satisfaction improves, and that’s a win for everyone involved.
Scott Montgomerie is CEO of Scope AR. Since co-founding the company in 2011, Montgomerie was one of the first executives to get augmented reality (AR) tools in use by multi-billion dollar corporations
A version of this article previously appeared in VentureBeat, and has been repurposed here with the author’s permission.
Company adds session recording to its industry leading AR knowledge platform and announces continued enterprise customer growth with Becton Dickinson and Lockheed Martin
SAN FRANCISCO and SANTA CLARA, California, May 29, 2019 — Scope AR, the pioneer of enterprise-class augmented reality (AR) solutions, today launched at Augmented World Expo 2019 (AWE) an upgraded version of its highly-touted WorkLink platform. With the addition of session recording, WorkLink becomes the industry’s only AR knowledge platform to offer real-time remote support, access to AR work instructions and the ability to record sessions simultaneously in one application. With this, workers can now easily capture, retain and share knowledge like never before. Scope AR also announced new enterprise customer, medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson, as well as expanded use of its integrated AR platform with Lockheed Martin.
“This is an exciting time for the AR industry. Adoption is growing and expectations among users are shifting towards more comprehensive, enterprise-ready solutions,” explained Scott Montgomerie, CEO of Scope AR. “With the latest WorkLink platform, we’ve added even more ways for workers to collaborate and quickly get the knowledge they need to successfully do their jobs. With the addition of session recording, businesses can now better capture and retain knowledge for future use and training purposes, while taking compliance, quality assurance and accuracy to the next level.”
The updated WorkLink platform can be customized with varying sets of functionality depending on customers’ needs. It can also be deployed across all major platforms and select industry wearables so organizations can use their device of choice. The platform is built to help make anyone an instant expert with seamless access to a variety of features including:
Session Recording to capture important knowledge delivered during live support video calls for retention, future sharing and new insight into additional training needs and how processes can be improved. Either the technician or remote expert can record a live session so real-time knowledge becomes a reusable asset that can be accessed by others in the future.
WorkLink Assist (formerly known as standalone product, Remote AR) for real-time expert remote assistance
WorkLink Create for quick and easy AR content creation for step-by-step work instructions
Beyond its latest product innovations, Scope AR has also experienced continued customer acquisition and growth on the heels of its $9.7 million Series A funding round in March 2019. Becton Dickinson, an American medical technology company that manufactures and sells medical devices, instrument systems and reagants, is the newest addition to the company’s already impressive client roster. Becton Dickinson will use WorkLink at the company’s Automation Center for Enablement to deliver AR instructions across the organization.
Additionally, Lockheed Martin is now expanding its use of Scope AR’s technology after its highly successful implementation of WorkLink to improve workforce training and spacecraft manufacturing procedures. They are now deploying Scope AR into all four of their business units across a broad variety of use cases.
Lockheed Martin’s Emerging Technologies Lead Shelley Peterson added,
“Creating AR work instructions with WorkLink has enabled our Space team
to reach unprecedented levels of efficiency and accuracy, as well as
reduced manufacturing training and activity ramp-up time by 85%. Scope
AR’s platform has proven to be so valuable that we have expanded our AR
adoption into even more manufacturing applications within the Space
division, as well as leveraging the technology in other areas of the
The next-generation of the company’s WorkLink platform is available immediately, and attendees of AWE 2019 can see a demonstration of the new platform at Scope AR’s booth #213. For more information on the upgraded WorkLink application visit: https://www.scopear.com/solutions/worklink-platform/
About Scope AR Scope AR is the pioneer of enterprise-class augmented reality solutions, delivering the industry’s only cross-platform AR tools for getting workers the knowledge they need, when they need it. The company is revolutionizing the way enterprises work and collaborate by offering an integrated AR platform that provides more effective and efficient knowledge-sharing to conduct complex remote tasks, employee training, product and equipment assembly, maintenance and repair, field and customer support, and more. The company’s device-agnostic technology supports smartphones, tablets and wearables, making it easy for leading organizations like Boeing, Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Assa Abloy, GE and others to quickly scale their use of AR to any remote worker. The company was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco with offices in Edmonton, Canada.
Thriving enterprise AR company continues growth and demonstrated
success with Fortune 500 leaders including Lockheed Martin and Unilever
SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Scope AR, the pioneer of enterprise-class augmented reality (AR) solutions, today announced it has secured a $9.7 million round of Series A funding. The round was led by Romulus Capital, with follow-on investment participation from existing investors SignalFire, Susa Ventures, Haystack, New Stack Ventures, North American Corporation and Angel List. Krishna Gupta of Romulus Capital and Wayne Hu from SignalFire will join Scope AR’s Board of Directors.
“AR is becoming an important tool for how knowledge is shared within
heavy industry, allowing workers to get the information they need, when
they need it, in an intuitive way,” said Scott Montgomerie,
CEO and co-founder of Scope AR. “We are thrilled to have the support of
our new and existing investors to accelerate our growth and development
during a crucial inflection point in the market. It underscores, yet
again, that enterprise AR is a leading driver within mixed reality
thanks to the impressive ROI and growing list of use cases the
With this latest infusion of capital, the company has a raised a total of $15.8 million, which will allow the company to further scale and expand enterprise AR adoption in a time when the industrial workforce is shifting and machinery and equipment are becoming increasingly complex. The company is among the first to deliver noteworthy ROI from real-world customer use cases across aerospace, consumer packaged goods and manufacturing industries. Using the company’s products – WorkLink and Remote AR – industry leaders such as Lockheed Martin, Unilever and Prince Castlehave achieved impactful results around improving worker efficiencies, reducing equipment downtime and more accurately diagnosing repair issues.
“Enterprises are now realizing that leveraging AR and other agile,
remote software solutions can be the answer to many operational
challenges they have always faced — from closing the growing skills gap
to reducing downtime,” said Krishna K. Gupta,
founder and general partner of Romulus Capital. “Scope AR’s product
leadership and vision has put them at the forefront of the industry,
addressing these challenges with tools that provide workers with instant
access to critical information that helps resolve operational issues in
an agile and accurate manner. We’re excited about their product roadmap
and growth opportunities as we work more closely with some of the
largest enterprises in the world.”
About Scope AR Scope AR is the pioneer of enterprise-class augmented reality solutions, delivering the industry’s only cross-platform AR tools for getting workers the knowledge they need, when they need it. The company is revolutionizing the way enterprises work and collaborate by offering AR tools that provide more effective and efficient knowledge-sharing to conduct complex remote tasks, employee training, product and equipment assembly, maintenance and repair, field and customer support, and more. The company’s device-agnostic technology supports smartphones, tablets and wearables, making it easy for leading organizations like Boeing, Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, Assa Abloy, GE and others to quickly scale their use of AR to any remote worker. The company was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco with offices in Edmonton, Canada.
Venture Beat released an article this week on how Remote AR now
supports ARCore, with contributions from Scope AR’s Scott Montgomerie.
Here are some highlights:
Know your security needs
Today’s AR solutions are sophisticated enough to meet
existing security protocols, it’s a matter of finding an AR partner that
values your security needs as much as you do in order to navigate
emerging needs together.
This is a whole new industry; there are no workplace
standards or certifications for AR yet. It’s up to chief information
officers to make sure the technology they’re implementing has the proper
vetting. Many Fortune 500 companies are already blazing this trail with
the support of AR technology providers who have also made security a
The important thing to remember is that today’s entry-level
AR solutions won’t necessarily be what your business needs tomorrow.
There will come a day when the cost of AR-specific hardware comes into a
range where the benefits of upgrading outweigh the cost.
To future-proof your AR integration, be sure to choose a
development partner who can create content for you that someone can
adapt to any platform — both the preferred ones of today as well as
those of the future.
Keep it simple, scalable
No single member of your team is going to be an expert on
everything. By utilizing tools that allow anyone to be a creator, you’ll
be able to refine, implement, and deploy best practices as processes
change and new elements are introduced. If a single change in your
process requires an invoice and a timeline to your AR partner, it’s time
to think about switching to a content-first strategy.
Understand workforce perception
There is a growing concern among today’s workforce that new
technologies are going to lead to unfathomable job loss. “If AR can
lead to a 30 percent improvement in job efficiency,” they may ask, “will
it lead to a 30 percent reduction in staff?”
For the adoption of AR to be successful, it’s imperative that you breach the workplace culture barrier to communicate the value that AR brings to the business and the team. Efficiency doesn’t inherently mean fewer workers; it can also mean fewer mistakes. Everybody benefits from a better and safer job.
Lucas Matney from TechCrunch released an article this month on Scope
AR’s WorkLink platform for Hololens, here are some highlights:
It’s important to remember that the augmented reality headset’s
ambitions lie in building a new standard for spatial computing with
Today, Alberta-based Scope AR announced that it will be launching a version of its WorkLink augmented
reality content authoring platform on the HoloLens, giving customers
the ability to help remote workers learn to repair or assemble complex
The company’s WorkLink product will be able to utilize the HoloLens’
outward facing depth sensors to map a rough mesh of objects and attach
AR step-by-step instructions to the real-world objects with “the same
ease as creating a PowerPoint presentation,” according to the company.
This will allow non-technical employees a chance to easily build content
and push it out to supported platforms, including iOS, Android and
May 11 at Microsoft Build 2017, Scope AR,
the creator of mixed reality (MR) smart instructions and live support
video calling solutions, announced that its MR content authoring
platform, WorkLink, now supports Microsoft HoloLens. Using the smart
instruction creation platform available on HoloLens, users can now
quickly and easily produce highly interactive MR instruction and
training content for deployment on HoloLens, the world’s first, fully
self-contained holographic computer. The integration provides WorkLink
users with a completely hands-free MR experience, an essential step for
remote workers trying to repair a piece of equipment or factory floor
workers assembling complex machinery. New and existing WorkLink projects
can now be immediately published to HoloLens to take advantage of a
fully markerless, hands-free solution!