Research reveals augmented reality devices in workplace boost short-term productivity, risk long-term innovation and efficiency

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

INFORMS Journal Manufacturing & Service Operations Management New Study Key Takeaways:

  • Augmented reality(AR) glasses provide immediate productivity benefits if used to help employees complete a task.
  • Employees finish tasks 44% faster when using AR.
  • AR reduces people’s ability to internalize tasks, meaning they simply execute without thinking through their actions.
  • AR can be blamed for long-term declines in innovation and productivity.

BALTIMORE, MD, April 2, 2022 – Companies that utilize augmented reality (AR) glasses as a new training and workforce tool to increase worker productivity risk stunting workforce innovation and ingenuity according to new research findings published in the INFORMS journal Manufacturing & Service Operations Management.

The study, “Seeing the Bigger Picture? Ramping up Production with the Use of Augmented Reality,” finds that workers in a manufacturing environment are immediately faster at their jobs when instructed through augmented reality devices, compared to traditional paper instructions, yet they aren’t forced to internalize the actions. Thus, while augmented reality helps workers perform tasks in 44% less time, it creates other substantial problems down the road, including longer term declines in innovation and productivity.

The research was conducted by Heilbronn Enno Siemsen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, David Wuttke and Ankit Upadhyay, both of Technische Universität München, and Alexandra Wuttke-Linnemann of Landeskrankenhaus Mainz. The researchers say these findings can help firms understand when to implement AR (and when not to). The findings may also trigger equipment manufacturers to plan for the future of AR devices more critically.

Link to full study.

About INFORMS and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management

INFORMS is the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, one of 17 journals published by INFORMS, is a premier academic journal that covers the production and operations management of goods and services including technology management, productivity and quality management, product development, cross-functional coordination, and practice-based research. More information is available at www.informs.org or @informs.

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