The Next Reality: Scaling AR in the Enterprise

With a versatile headset that supports industrial and PC applications, Lenovo's ThinkReality platform delivers enterprise-grade augmented reality in an easy-to-deploy and easy-to-support solution.

The Next Reality: Scaling AR in the Enterprise

Augmented reality (AR) is transforming many enterprise functions, overcoming the limitations of traditional screens and enabling deeper immersion and context. 

AR is already driving enterprise ROI for a wide range of training, design, simulation, and communication tasks in the enterprise, yielding benefits such as reduced travel time and cost, improved safety, and enhanced knowledge transfer. Some of the industries that have been the quickest to embrace this technology include mining, manufacturing, and construction. 

Early commercial users of AR have faced challenges, though, in finding headsets that combine the right mix of portability, comfort, image quality, versatility, and connectivity, much less those that meet the demands of enterprise IT. Even today, some new entrants cling to proprietary applications and infrastructure, which make them poor candidates for large-scale enterprise deployment. To take extended reality to the next phase of enterprise utility requires not only leading-edge devices, but an ecosystem of software and services that delivers versatility, manageability, and scalability.

Mastering Multiple Scenarios

Lenovo's ThinkReality A3 represents a new approach to augmented reality headsets. By leveraging the processing and connectivity of a PC or smartphone, Lenovo keeps the headset light and comfortable, while still providing the level of graphical fidelity demanded by PC users and industrial applications. With a single USB cable, the sunglasses-like headset can connect to a PC or mobile phone for versatility that complements the strengths of each device.

ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses

For example, when connected to a PC with a discrete GPU such as Lenovo's P-series mobile workstations, the A3 allows knowledge workers to view and interact with up to five virtual 1080p displays without requiring the physical real estate and power consumption of physical monitors. The increased efficiency of working with multiple displays has long been validated by research. In financial services, for example, users who monitor trading activity use two or four monitors; multiple monitors are also helpful for developers, content creators, and knowledge workers.

The A3's virtual monitors are particularly useful as the realities of hybrid work make the deployment of multiple physical displays impractical. And, unlike with physical displays, information displayed on the headset's lenses can't be observed by passers-by. 

Connecting the headset with the 5G-capable Moto G100 enables a wide array of industrial applications traditionally associated with AR. These include remote video communication and technical overlays for training and maintenance. Users can also access a wide range of Android applications in augmented reality. And because the smartphone's screen remains active, users can take advantage of its display with an on-screen keyboard that's more familiar and efficient than a virtual one. Navigation controls on the smartphone screen can also be used to manipulate digital objects, such as rotating or zooming in on a model for a more detailed view of its components.

"Scalability is absolutely critical for the adoption of AR in the enterprise," said Nathan Pettyjohn, Commercial AR/VR Lead at Lenovo Intelligent Device Group. "It was our vision for the A3 to bring to market a versatile smart glass device that can improve productivity for the office worker through virtual monitors, while improving privacy and portability. The same lightweight and foldable A3 smart glasses can also improve and transform work on the factory floor, or in the field, by tethering to mobile smartphone devices while also leveraging new 5G connectivity, and thereby transforming work across many levels of the enterprise."

Leveraging a Platform

Lenovo's ThinkReality A3 smart glasses are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 Platform, which is designed to support immersive, high-performance AR applications while lowering power consumption compared to older approaches. 

ThinkReality A3 Smart Glasses

While the ThinkReality A3 offers significant advantages over previous headsets, no device is optimal for every application, which is why Lenovo's approach to extended reality is both cloud- and device-agnostic. Customers can choose other Lenovo headsets, such as the ThinkReality A6. For applications that may benefit from a completely immersive field of view, such as virtual reality training, the Mirage VRS3 all-in one VR headset offers a scalable, enterprise device solution. In addition, Lenovo's ThinkReality platform works with third-party devices such as RealWear's monocular HMT-1.

The ThinkReality platform includes a host of development and deployment tools, as well. As the world's largest PC vendor, Lenovo has a rich partner ecosystem and deep experience in empowering enterprises to manage devices and users. For example, for customers seeking to get started with a turnkey solution, Lenovo has partnered with enterprise AR software developer Holo|One. Its Sphere suite includes applications such as remote expert, task instruction, and model visualization right out of the box. However, for customers that want to build AR applications from scratch, Lenovo offers development tools and an SDK for its headsets.

"We have reached a tipping point in the fields of commercial AR and VR. We are seeing successful deployments and ROI is steadily improving. As this transition in technology is occuring, Lenovo is meeting enterprise needs. The ThinkReality ecosystem of devices, services, and apps continues to grow, bringing more and better AR and VR solutions to support customers," said Pettyjohn.

Around the globe, enterprises count on Lenovo as a trusted partner through every stage of AR deployment, from navigating the vibrant but crowded landscape of vendors, systems integrators, and ISVs, to supporting applications such as mission-critical machine repair, where prolonged downtime can rack up huge losses quickly. To learn more about how Lenovo's ThinkReality platform, including the versatile A3 headset, can help your business, visit the ThinkReality website.