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“Augmented” business culture

A closer look at AR and VR reveals new horizons of production

Virtual factories and new technologies: de-materialised production yields physical objects. Impalpable labour that is nevertheless real. Beyond traditional manufacturing know-how – and to an extent, beyond the paradigms of Industry 4.0 – industrial systems are now beginning to incorporate production methods that are literally beyond reality itself. And yet, they exist. The latest frontier in business and manufacturing opens up a range of possibilities whose potential modes of application we do not yet fully understand. That’s why we should read “Applicazioni delle tecnologie immersive nell’industria e Realtà Aumentata come innovazione di processo nella Logistica: stato dell’arte ed implicazioni manageriali (Industrial applications of immersive technologies and Augmented Reality as a process innovation in Logistics: current developments and managerial implications) by Marco Remondino, an Economics and Business Administration research fellow at the Department of Economics of the University of Genoa. The article is a useful introduction to a subject that is evolving so rapidly, it is hard keep track.

The author points out that the concept of immersive technology “refers to the goal of lessening the distinction between the physical (or ‘real’) world and the simulated (or ‘virtual’) world generated by a computer, creating a sense of immersion and inclusion with elements that can be drawn from diverse and heterogeneous contexts. It therefore refers to an engaging and potentially multi-sensory digital experience, which can be delivered by means of different technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 360-degree video, hybrid realities or a combination of the above”. Not just virtual factories, therefore, but also “augmented” ones, with everything that might entail in terms of work methods, production organisation and relational dynamics within factories or offices, but also with customers, suppliers, the public, etc.

It is a vast and complex topic, which is why Remondino limits the scope of his analysis to the current state of the art in utilising these technologies. Particular attention is given to Augmented Reality, since it represents “an innovation for industrial and managerial process, especially in terms of its strategic applications in optimising existing processes or creating new possibilities”.

The article is neatly structured. First, the author provides a general overview of the subject matter (noting, among other things, that this could be a 95-billion-dollar industry by 2025), then he focuses on the areas of application of VR and AR within industrial processes. Finally, the essay delves into the specifics of applying these technologies to the logistics sector, while also tackling more general aspects related to the use of VR and AR in management.

Remondino’s paper may not go down as a seminal work in the field of AR and VR, but it succeeds at explaining in clear and comprehensible terms what businesses may have on their hands, not in a few decades, but right now.

“Applicazioni delle tecnologie immersive nell’industria e Realtà Aumentata come innovazione di processo nella Logistica: stato dell’arte ed implicazioni manageriali”

Marco Remondino

Impresa Progetto – Electronic Journal of Management, no. 3, 2018