Recently, the Swiss Post hosted the third Community of Practice for Augmented Reality (CoP AR) at their headquarters and innovation lab in Bern. The event, organized by Open Web Technology, gathered about 30 representatives of Swiss companies to listen to AR experts and participate to a panel discussion.

First, the Swiss Post presented a few of their Proof of Concepts (PoC) in Augmented Reality. Impressive was the systematic approach to setting up an AR competence center and to promoting the technology inside the organization. The PoC for package or mail sorting demonstrated the best attributes of AR: short learning curve, polyvalence, and higher throughput.

A presentation by Christine Perey summarized the current state of affairs in AR and argued that Switzerland had some catching up to do, particularly in manufacturing, in comparison to Germany. Her summary was very pertinent and gave us all food for thought: AR does not drive digital transformation, companies adopt AR to solve problems, and this technology is (potentially highly) disruptive.

The third presentation was by the Hochshule Rapperswil, which demonstrated how students are quickly adopting Augmented Reality and incorporating it into business solutions. If the universities include AR in their curriculum and encourage students to work with it, then we will see many new uses of AR in the coming years, and there will be more people with expertise in this field.

Finally, the panel discussion had to address some difficult questions around AR and its adoption across companies. Particularly, regarding the disruptive nature of AR both in workplaces and in society, and how it necessarily needs to be taken into account. To address this up front and gain acceptance, the contributors insisted on the importance of deploying Augmented Reality solutions incrementally, starting with Proof of Concepts.

In summary, we see the following happening across Switzerland:

  • More and more companies are creating internal competence centers for AR
  • AR is closely aligned with machine learning and IoT – all three disciplines come together in new projects with broader horizons
  • The adage: “start small and grow” is pertinent for AR. It can’t be emphasized enough that small steps are better than a single all-encompassing project