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Can an augmented reality headset change the way we work?

Can an augmented reality headset change the way we work?


Daqri works like Google Glass, but avoids the complications of selling high-tech headgear to the average consumer

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You can't throw a stone these days without cracking the faceplate on some fancy virtual reality headset. The technology we've been lusting after for so long is about to hit the mainstream in a major way, with big releases arriving in the next year from Facebook's Oculus, Sony, and Samsung. Running parallel to this trend is the world of augmented reality, where virtual images are layered onto what you're seeing in the real world. Google and Microsoft have made major bets on this technology with Magic Leap and HoloLens.

But while all those titans of technology are working to perfect a version of this technology that will appeal to the average consumer, startups are already putting it into practice with industrial customers. Daqri is an augmented reality (AR) company based out of Los Angeles. It has developed an AR headset and the software which powers it. Technicians wearing its unit out in the field can see additional information, get step-by-step instructions, and easily relay what they are seeing to a support team connected remotely to their headset.

Getting step-by-step instructions layered on top of the real world

The application is not very different from what Google set out to achieve with Glass, which offered features like turn-by-turn directions through its mapping service and live streaming your point of view to friends on a Hangout. Luckily for Daqri, the average worker in an industrial factory is far less concerned with fashion and privacy, the two issues which really tripped up Glass. The visor looks pretty normal attached to a hardhat, although you've still got to remember that it might make people uncomfortable if you wear it into the bathroom.

Daqri started working on this technology before a big market for the final product existed. It's managed to convince several large corporations to experiment with its headset and hopes to parlay that into hard data about increased productivity it can use as a sales pitch to a much broader segment of customers. Daqri hasn't yet built a consistently profitable business, but as a pioneer in a crowded field, it's acquiring very valuable real-world experience that much larger players in tech might want to acquire.