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Augmented Reality

Onboarding in Augmented Reality: A New Way to Build LEGO Bricks

onboarding in augmented reality with lego bricks

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Cross-Reality Technologies in Business

Many top companies out there pursue cross-reality solutions to improve their operations. We have Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Lockheed Martin, Porsche, BMW, and even the US Army eagerly using augmented reality headsets to streamline information sharing.

Augmented reality patches numerous gaps in workflows and can help companies streamline processes.

Recognizing this great potential of AR tech, we decided to showcase AR’s capabilities from a rather unconventional angle.

Building LEGO Bricks in Augmented Reality

I love LEGO bricks. I still own all the sets I got as a kid. I’ll never part with them (even if any of the sets I own ends up on the most valued LEGO sets list, like the Wolfpack Tower, currently standing at $4,050).

Wolfpack Tower, the Holy Grail of LEGO bricks
Wolfpack Tower, the Holy Grail of LEGO bricks. Source: Brickinvesting

LEGO is arguably that kind of toy that never gets boring, regardless of the age of the user. There are even special sets designed specifically for adults.

Just look at that beauty:

LEGO Tree House. Source: LEGO

I mean, a tree house.

But if that doesn’t cut it for you, there’s also the ISS.

The International Space Station LEGO set
The International Space Station LEGO set. Source: LEGO

Pretty amazing, huh?

And while I also love building LEGO bricks, there were a few construction projects in my life where I wouldn’t have built a thing without a building instruction.

But sometimes even the instruction was difficult to follow, if you can believe it.

I remember having a set with many dark elements — multiple parts had different but very similar shades of gray. Unfortunately, the instructions didn't reflect the colors that well, and I found myself wondering midway into my LEGO structure if I hadn't used the wrong piece in the wrong place, right at the start of the construction.

For a person with light OCD, such uncertainty can be disastrous ;)

At least the experience taught me a great deal about patience and delayed gratification.

Tom Hiddleston knows all about delayed gratification. Source: Youtube

Delayed gratification aside, why not make building LEGO bricks easier?

And while LEGO instructions available via mobile AR aren’t anything new, our team opted for a more immersive approach via the Magic Leap headset.

Onboarding LEGO Bricks in Augmented Reality

To develop an AR-based proof of concept (POC) that could recognize different LEGO pieces and suggest which one to pick next, we used the Magic Leap tools and artificial intelligence.

Onboarding in mixed reality with a simple LEGO set
The green arrow suggests which LEGO brick to pick next.

The Magic Leap engine was responsible for object recognition and eye-tracking. This way, we knew what the user was looking at — in this case, scattered LEGO pieces.

The AI algorithm was responsible for identifying where a specific LEGO piece should go.

While the experience is rather rudimentary — it’s only a POC, after all — it does a good job at showcasing the possibilities of mixed reality in supporting users in precision-demanding tasks.

Why is it important?

Using mixed reality to provide employees with detailed instructions how to perform a task can improve employee onboarding. Proper onboarding has a direct result on employee retention and productivity.

While in the POC we loaded a simple LEGO set into the program, the software can be configured to work with a wide array of projects from a range of sectors.

For example:

  • Automotive (assembling parts, e.g., an engine)
  • Manufacturing (building products, e.g., a watch)
  • Electronics (e.g., assembling phones)
  • Architecture and construction (e.g., integrating projects into construction sites)

The benefits of using augmented reality in these industries are tremendous and tangible.

Great and structured onboarding procedures result in a 70% increase in production among staff. Another study reports that standardized onboarding processes drive a 62% spike in new-hire productivity.

When employees understand how and what to do, their engagement also increases, by up to 53% according to the State of Talent 2017 by SilkRoad. A positive onboarding experience lets employees start meeting goals faster.

Augmented reality can also be used to build great consumer onboarding experiences. For example, to help customers assemble complex furniture pieces… and save them plenty of frustration ;)

Assembling furniture is no mean feat
Assembling furniture is no mean feat. Source: Adulting via WNYC Studios

Augmented Reality Is a Differentiator for Companies

Augmented reality can be applied in numerous contexts, regardless of industries. For example, to provide employees with step-by-step instructions in precision-demanding tasks or complex multi-step processes such as quality assurance.

But the use cases for augmented reality in onboarding are endless and can benefit employees and consumers alike.

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