This article was written for RealWear.com
Communication Revolution: The Evolution from Cave Walls to Assisted Reality
Tracing the Journey of Human Communication and the Rise of Assisted Reality in the Frontline Industries.
the imparting or exchanging of information or news
means of sending or receiving information
A very brief look at the evolution of communication
Since the dawn of man, humans have been inventing ways to communicate effectively and at scale. To begin with, it was drawings on a cave wall or a stone tablet. Today, whether you’re a subject matter expert or a frontline professional, you have the power to access digital solutions that allow you to see, hear, and interact with people as if they were in the same room—even if thousands of miles apart.
Regardless of how technologically advanced any of these forms of communication may be, they all have one thing in common – the ability to pass information to others without physically being in the same place when it’s consumed.
Hand-written or typed letters, telegraphs, morse code, telephones, pagers, and fax machines— all at one point were the best way to quickly send vital pieces of information to someone else. In 1862, the Pony Express could send a letter from New York to California in an astonishing 10 days instead of several weeks. It became the definition of “quick communication.”
Obviously, a lot can happen in 10 days. The critical information scribed in a letter could have become obsolete. Naturally, humanity pushed on for an even faster solution. A few years later, Alexander Graham Bell had a vision of instant audible communication—the ability to hear someone as if they were in the same room in real-time. Some people said it was an impossible idea, others thought that the notion was dangerous, and many correlated buying a telephone to owning a personal airplane. A mere 14 years after The Pony Express launched, on March 7, 1876, Bell called his assistant Thomas Watson for the first telephone business meeting in history. The boundary of human achievement and how we communicate changed forever.
We’ve come a long way since then. Movies, TV, cell phones, and the internet have all facilitated new ways to communicate, some of them are faster, some of them richer in content – but they all look to strive towards the same goal in getting as close as possible to physically being there. We’ve come a long, long way in the 32,000 years since man first scrawled on a cavern wall.
Communications on the Frontline of Business
As with any technological quantum leap, it’s an industry where these new communications media took off. Businesses are always looking for ways in which to boost productivity and expedite tasks. Just a few short decades ago, the only form of communication for frontline professionals was a combination of face-to-face, close-proximity communication, and lugging around heavy paper binders. Communication on the frontline evolved to using hand-held 2-way, push-to-talk radios, and expensive rugged cell phones arriving on job sites shortly after.
Fast forward to 2023, and frontline workers can communicate on their company’s unified communications platform (Zoom, Webex, and Microsoft Teams) to make calls, annotate documents with just voice commands, instantly send job site photos and videos to the office, access digital step-by-step instructions, and so much more. Everything that people do in the office can now be utilized in a pharmaceutical lab, on a factory floor, while fixing a car, or on top of a wind turbine. The frontline is no longer left behind, and it’s all thanks to Assisted Reality wearables.
What is Assisted Reality (aR)?
Before we get into Assisted Reality, we should start at the top and discuss Extended Reality (XR). In a nutshell, XR is a broader term for potentially immersive technology that adds digital content to what we can already interpret with our senses. There are various technologies that fall under XR, and they each offer the user a different level of immersion in the digital content.
If we look at the XR spectrum diagram below, the real world offers no digital content and, therefore zero immersion. On the other hand, Virtual Reality involves providing an entirely digital environment that completely immerses you in terms of sight and sound. The level of immersion, in this case, is almost 100%.
Why is Assisted Reality the future of the frontline?
In and of itself, the immersion level of any given subset of XR is neither good nor bad – it simply depends on the use case. If you want to be immersed in a digital environment for a video game, VR is going to trump the other forms every time. However, when it comes to safety and frontline professionals, Assisted Reality is the way to go.
Unlike other XR wearables, RealWear Navigator 520’s Assisted Reality keeps you firmly planted in your physical environment. This means you can stay fully focused on the task at hand and have your hands free to get the job done. Assisted Reality provides digital content but doesn’t obstruct your view with it (think of it like the dashboard of your car), making it an incredibly safe and reliable solution for remote collaboration across all types of industries. For a more detailed explanation, you can read our blog post here.
In terms of communications on the frontline, dialing up the immersion level doesn’t equate to a better communication medium, rather it’s the application of that digital information that enables the frontline to simply carry out even more tasks remotely and stay better connected with their wider team.
Assisted Reality is the next step in distance communications, and its applications are limitless. In years to come, companies that didn’t jump on board with this technology earlier will be kicking themselves. Work smarter, faster, and safer than ever while seeing real ROI. The future is now.