Biz of Things

Pokemon Go is Giving Us a Preview of the Potential Dangers of AR Smart Glass Wearables

Unless you live under a rock, you either play Pokemon Go, have seen someone play Pokemon Go, or at the very least have heard about the craze that is Pokemon Go. You probably have also heard about some of the accidents that have resulted from people being glued to the pseudo-augmented reality game. Pokemon Go, or the people playing Pokemon Go, have caused car accidents across America, led two people off a cliff, and made trespassing a new trend. It has gotten so crazy that Israel has issued a Pokemon Go warning, and a Russian bank is selling Pokemon Go accident insurance. The good thing is, I never plan to play Pokemon Go, and I do not care about Pokemon Go. However, I do care about IoT, and Pokemon Go is providing a good warning as to the dangers that IoT products such as smart wearable glasses may bring.

The Internet of Things is preparing to take enterprise by storm, and many enterprise smart solutions require workers to wear smart glasses equipped with augmented reality technology to allow workers to collect more information to better perform in their day jobs. I myself have fallen into the trap of intense excitement over the workplace efficiencies that can be gained by utilizing smart glasses with augmented reality. Here are a few use cases that the industry has been cooking up, and the potential risks of a Pokemon Go type accident:

  • Automotive and Aerospace manufacturing workers using smart glasses to assist with assembly:
    • Benefits – Real-time assembly instructions and alerts from enterprise allow workers to have all the information and communication they need while keeping both hands free for assembly. These glasses can also capture videos or images of assembly to share with colleagues who can assist remotely.
    • Poke-risks – Distractions may occur when workers focus on reading data through their glasses or capturing videos that may result in accidents. The need to multi-task while using both hands may add injury risk when distracted workers are utilizing heavy machinery.
  • Logistics workers wearing smart glasses to identify and move shipments:
    • Benefits – Hands-free order picking, removal of manual paperwork, eye scanning to track movement of packages.
    • Poke-risks – Distraction caused by processing information from smart glasses while lifting a heavy package or needing to tilt the package at a certain angle to scan QR code may lead to improper handling and risk of injury.
  • Police officers using smart glasses to identify and collect information about suspects.
    • Benefits – Wearable cameras to document crime scene, collect data about suspects.
    • Poke-risks – This extra attention on the data coming through the smart glasses may distract officers from observing the crime at hand, and may delay immediate action.

In addition to the many use cases, requiring workers to wear smart glasses during the work day might lead to the same non-work related distractions that cause office workers who have a computer with internet access, to procrastinate. Because workers will be equipped with smart glasses throughout the work day, they may be able to watch videos and play games instead, while giving the impression that they are actually working. I believe the benefits smart glasses with AR will bring to enterprises is tremendous, but Pokemon Go has reminded us that these benefits will not come without risks. Companies, you have been warned…before you give your workers this costly equipment, you must make sure it is used properly so this ground breaking technology is an asset to your company, not a liability.

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