When it comes to the latest tech, we are the ultimate nerds. But some of us like to nerd out about other things, too. Like Star Wars…

Does anyone remember the scene when the “rangefinder” gadget pops out of Boba Fett’s helmet and he uses it to track the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City?

Well, that iconic scene wasn’t just an awesome moment in Star Wars — it might have shaped the future of how we work.

That’s what our guest today, Andy Lowery, Founder of RealWear is betting on. His company is producing wearable augmented reality technology which will change how workers interact with the world.

And it can trace its origins to Boba Fett. 

That inspired Stephen Pombo to design the first iteration of a wearable monocular computer in college. Back then, it was just an artistic mock-up, but it inspired him to pursue a working version. 

Fast-forward to today and he’s at RealWear making a rangefinder Boba Fett would trade a thousand carbonite Han Solo’s for — the HMT-1

Andy got us really excited about the real-world potential for the tech — and we think you will be, too.

Here’s what he had to say.

Reality first, digital second 

You may be thinking that you’ve heard lavish promises about the potential for AR and wearables before. 

And just like we all are about those flying cars we were promised in old sci-fi movies, you might be a little jaded by the tech failing to materialize into something that works. 

According to Andy, that hasn’t been a fault of the tech — it’s the approach that has been wrong. 

Other wearable AR devices started being marketed to consumers — products like Google Glass — have UI designed around the wearer engaging with digital elements. Digital always takes precedence. 

The HMT-1 has been approached with someone like a pilot in mind. The pilot would have a tough time reacting to the real world if he was being overloaded by digital information flying around their head. 

The other issue is, most companies have emphasized this technology as an end unto itself. A complete solution to push onto consumers before its ready and before the use cases are established. 

But what if we took a modular approach? 

A symphony of tech for the connected worker 

Andy envisions a world where workers will be outfitted with an array of wearable systems that all communicate with each other. But for that world to become a reality, these wearable devices need a hub connecting them. 

Andy thinks RealWear can provide that hub. 

Several companies have sought to put out all-in-one wearable solutions but with the complex interaction between several different components, the tech is only as strong as the weakest part of the chain.

For example, if your connectivity relies on AI, cloud technology and mobile analytics all working together, 

By focusing on a piece-by-piece approach, newer advancements can be worked into the system, rather than having to rework the system itself.

The goal is to compose a symphony of different technologies all working together to provide real people with real solutions they can use to work safely and more efficiently.

Okay, wearables sound cool — but how will they be used?

Andy has a lot of big ideas for how tech like the HMT-1 can do this — and he has use cases to back it up. 

In manufacturing, wearable technology has been tested against paper and tablets for procedures like checklists and documenting processes with photographs. The wearables destroyed pen and paper in trials, upgrading efficiency by over 80%, while beating tablets by up to 20%. 

Companies not adopting something that increases productivity at these levels are basically saying they hate money.

And that’s just one way this tech can save companies money. 

This tech could easily be used to turn each worker into a sensor, gathering critical information about the environment and relaying it back automatically and reducing the manpower needed to collect that information.

The tech is also a boon for medical workers — from ambulances to operating theaters — freeing up their hands and providing quicker access to vital information when every second counts.

If Andy and RealWear successfully scale, we could be seeing the efficiency of workers across a wide range of industries spike at an unprecedented rate. And that’s important in a society with an aging population and a looming shortage of workers. 

And of course, it would also be pretty cool to see everyone rocking the rangefinder — then the only thing we’d need to complete the ensemble is a working jet-pack. 

This post is based on a TechTables podcast with Andy Lowery. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to TechTables here.

PS: You can also email me at joe@techtablespodcast.com for anything related to the podcast and joe.toste@nagarro.com if you are interested in learning more about Nagarro and our philosophy on #thinkingbreakthroughs. 

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