COVID-19 is affecting people, businesses, industries and economies worldwide. The pandemic has made social distancing and remote working the new normal. To cope with these new norms, people and business are turning to technology and accelerating the adoption of innovations such as augmented reality, mixed reality and IoT solutions for continuity in both life and business.
Enterprises are particularly embracing these technologies to keep their critical operations running in a very uncertain and challenging environment. Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies in combination with IoT solutions are being used by organizations across the globe to support a more connected, engaged, collaborative working and learning environment.
How healthcare organizations can implement AR and MR
AR and MR technologies are having a big impact on patient care. The technology is helping healthcare professionals cope with extraordinarily high demand for care and services fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
First responders. Wearable AR and MR technology allows first responders to stay hands-free while responding to emergencies. Using this technology, emergency medical teams and first responders can access critical life-saving data and communicate with emergency rooms and command centers in real-time. Real-time functionality allows medical professionals on the scene to stream what they are seeing directly to a remote physician, receive live feedback and instructions while remaining hands-free and focused on providing critical care to patients.
IoT connected drones and wearable AR headsets are also being used by first responders to visualize the scene of an accident or disaster. Firefighters and police officers can deploy a drone and see what the drone is seeing through the headset to get a better understanding of what caused the event and how they can efficiently resolve the situation. These drones provide videos, mapping and images, allowing first responders to interact with real-time information in their field of view to more quickly and safely locate people involved in the accident and respond to their injuries.
Telehealth. Adoption of AR, MR and IoT technologies to weather the impact of the coronavirus crisis will drive continued growth of these technologies in several sectors, such as healthcare and education.
AR is intersecting with IoT in the healthcare sector in a variety of ways. AR in combination with IoT is helping facilitate better patient outcomes with real-time visualization of data and actionable insights. The strain on healthcare resources resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is being eased somewhat by an increase in telehealth.
AR and IoT technologies allow healthcare providers access to patient data without interrupting care. Using these technologies, doctors won’t have to ignore a patient to open a chart. They can complete virtual patient visits while simultaneously referencing data from IoT connected devices, such as wearable patient monitoring devices.
Medical equipment. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have a wide range of sophisticated medical equipment from ventilators to anesthesia machines to MRI scanners. IoT sensors can monitor the status of these pieces of equipment, providing proactive monitoring to help reduce equipment downtime. MR and IoT technologies can work in concert to more efficiently keep critical healthcare facility equipment up and running.
When equipment fails or requires routine maintenance, actionable data from IoT connected equipment can be streamed to MR glasses. These glasses allow remote field techs to collaborate with subject matter experts in real-time, stream what they are seeing, receive live feedback and obtain instruction, all while working hands-free.
AR and MR enhance education
In response to the unfortunate spread of the coronavirus, governors and legislatures have called for the statewide closure of at least 124,000 public schools in 48 states and every U.S. territory, requiring thousands of students to shift to remote learning. AR, MR and IoT technologies are helping educators adapt to this shift and continue to support the learning needs of students.
With the incorporation of AR and MR headsets into educational institutions, students of all ages are able to learn through immersive and engaging experiences. These technologies are transforming the way students understand and retain information by allowing them to bring their imagination and thoughts to life. Strong visual aids such as 3D generated models and images also help teachers spark the interest of their class while clarifying key points and expanding on ideas.
AR and IoT technologies are being used in education to enhance the following:
Teaching. AR and MR technology can help teachers get students up to speed and increase their understanding of new material. Educators can use immersive hands-on MR experiences to supplement traditional teaching methods, which can help students at all levels solve critical-thinking problems faster, resulting in both improved learning rates and first-pass assessment testing rates.
IoT devices connected to the cloud allow teachers to personalize student learning. Actionable data from these devices helps teachers determine which students might need more help and attention and tailor lesson plans accordingly.
Mentoring. AR glasses engineered for remote mentoring with a robust real-time platform allow students to collaborate with instructors in real time anywhere in the world. Students can stream what they are seeing, receive live feedback and visualize instructions in a collaborative classroom or field environment.
Lessons. When using wearable AR technology, students can become immersed in what they are learning, follow simplified lesson instructions and solve complex problems easier than ever before. The technology also allows students to access visual references as well as document and record data.
IoT smart white boards and digital highlighters are also tools teachers can use to interact with students wherever they are to make learning more engaging and improve learning outcomes.
Technology is playing a vital role in helping organizations adapt to COVID-19 driven remote working norms and social distancing protocols. AR and MR coupled with IoT technologies are helping enterprises sustain operations and deliver on their core mission in a challenging environment.
Healthcare and education are just two of the many sectors accelerating the adoption of these technologies. Enterprises all over the world are using AR and IoT to address remote operations, knowledge distribution, training and onboarding, skills shortages, process and workflow digitization, and getting employees back to their work responsibilities safely.
Though new norms associated with COVID-19 may have accelerated adoption of these technologies, the ability of AR, MR and IoT to keep front-line employees safe while ensuring production rates and services levels meet expectations will drive their continued adoption across all sectors well after the pandemic.
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