One of the most underappreciated aspects of smartphones is the benefit of having a tool for both business and entertainment. In the early years, a dual enterprise/personal device was seen as a liability. Many companies even locked down business devices to prevent them from being used as entertainment devices. Today, however, companies have been forced by sheer momentum to integrate popular business/personal devices based on iOS and Android into their infrastructure.
This past weekend, I had the chance to use one “fun” app that got me thinking about business applications. Google Sky Map allows you to hold your Android phone up to the night sky and see exactly what the names of the heavenly bodies are that you are looking at. The opportunity to apply this kind of augmented reality in the enterprise are many.
For example, facial recognition technology could be adapted for industrial parts. A service technician could hold an iPad in front of a complex machine and immediately understand the problem he is there to diagnose. Such an app would display the camera’s view of the machine with a semi-transparent, superimposed overlay that identifies each part. A technician could more-quickly hone in on a specific broken part and, with a click, a video would show the technician exactly how to remove and replace the part.
Augmented reality has also been envisioned as being integrated with Unified Communications platforms such as Microsoft Lync. In 2011, Microsoft produced a video entitled Productivity Future Vision that shows how augmented reality and UC technologies might work together in the future. We’re a long way from this kind of future state, but when employees use their smartphones for things like exploring the night sky, it’s natural for them to think of how such technology can be applied in their own jobs. Companies should embrace the fact that a single device can serve both business and personal use, especially with the line blurring between work and play.