Productivity | Singapore Enterprise Association

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

– The Mixed Reality Revolution Is Here, And It Will Change Your Business Productivity World Forever.


The past 30 years have set the stage for technological and cultural change at an unprecedented scale. The rise of Personal Computing, Internet as well as Smartphones have completely redefined the way we interact with our world as well as each other --- today, over 99.9% of the world’s data is stored digitally and half of the world’s population is already part of the internet, a figure which is expected to reach closer to 100% by 2020. Every day we’ve been growing more reliant on modern technology as we collectively craft a separate digital universe we use to manage everything in our lives, from money, social circles and businesses. The digital world, however, holds little resemblance to our physical world – after all, the former is still governed by screens and 2D imagery. Companies have used their mastery of design to make interaction with the digital realm feel more natural through features such as slick user interfaces and touchscreens interaction, but there’s only so much that can be done in a rectangle. The digital world is a world of information, while our physical reality is one of experiences – and because of that distinction those two realities have always remained separate, only connecting to each other through tangents. The recent rise of Virtual Reality has brought new ways of experiencing information into the light, inspiring a new wave of interaction design and experiential software that enjoys a true sense of presence in digital worlds.

Now, a new form of computing stands on the horizon, creating a plane of reality that intersects the physical and virtual world that’s doth exceptional and familiar where digital information seamlessly blends into our physical reality as active parts of our environment – a world where computers can understand our surroundings and where technology feels unbound from the human experience. This is Mixed Reality – it’s real, it’s here, and it’s one of the biggest technological races since the rise of personal computing.

Beginner’s guide: the Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality distinction

While Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality technologies are all similar in many aspects, they have some fundamental differences. Virtual Reality headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive completely replace your current reality with a new one, putting you in a 3D generated world with little concern for your immediate surroundings. It invites you into its world, and it’s isolationist by design, which is one of its main strengths (fully immersive) as well as weaknesses (disconnect from your context).

Augmented reality, however, overlays digital information on top of your real world, the most notable example being the popular game Pokemon Go. And while it can make for some interesting applications, it is nothing but a rough digital overlay — it doesn’t truly understand your space, which stops you from making applications that truly use your world as a canvas.

Mixed Reality, however, is a completely different beast that combine several types of technology into one device — differently from AR and VR, MR devices are constantly scanning your room and gathering a 3D understanding of your surroundings, using that information to seamlessly place digital information within your space and interact with it, all of which can be viewed through transparent displays as you naturally interact with the result using your hands. Unlike Virtual Reality, MR doesn’t invite you to a completely different world — rather; it invites the digital world into yours.​

The Race to Build a New Reality The race for Mixed Reality is already happening. All major tech companies like GoogleAppleMicrosoft, Intel and others have been advocating resources to Mixed Reality ventures, with new players like the Meta and Magic Leap also entering the game, each with their own distinct vision of the future. Microsoft’s HoloLens as well as Meta’s Headset have development kits of their own in the market today.

The HoloLens by Microsoft has a sleek design. In fact, it’s a completely functional untethered holographic computer, requiring no wires or any external power to run whatsoever. It possesses 3 distinct types of sensors and 5 environment understanding cameras working together to allow the device to understand 3D space and place holograms, and the resulting mixed reality is finally brought to life by the two high-pixel-density lenses that sit in front of the user’s eyes. Through a simple “gaze and click” interface the user can do familiar tasks like browse the web as well as perform Skype calls in virtual screens you can scatter around your environment with no restraints of location and size— you can also play around with a range of novel Mixed Reality apps ranging from creative tools to Games that showcase some of the unique powers of the medium. The HoloLens adds a sense of permanence to digital objects that’s uncommon with technology — since it creates and stores a 3D mesh of all the physical environments you use it in, it remembers where you set up your holograms — so if you drop a couple of 3D models in the living room of work space, and then leave your home for 3 days, they will all be exactly where you left them when you return. The amazing part is that all of its parts come together.

From Personal Devices to Personal Universes

If Mixed Reality becomes popularized, everything we know is bound to change — the eventual replacement of today’s computers and smartphones devices with technology of this type means that all digital interfaces that we know today will have to be rebuilt from the ground up. Overall, MR is expected to cause disruption on a vast scale, completely revolutionizing enterprise applications, education, social media and the $2 trillion dollar entertainment market — all while opening a door to a new way of being alive.

And this is important: Mixed Reality isn’t just a new type of technology — it’s an entirely new plane of existence. It’ll spur new ways of creating and consuming content, sure, but when you begin to speculate how MR will converge with other emerging technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things, the possibilities become even more expansive. Users will be able to access all the information they need only when and where they’re needed, always presented perfectly on top of their real world instead of diverting you away from it. I tend to think that technology is only truly mature when it’s invisible to the user — in this case, MR is what technologically-mature computers look like, blending seamlessly into the human experience instead of detracting you from it.

Imagine educating yourself not in classrooms, but simply by exploring the world, learning about surrounding plants and animals by simply looking at them. Perhaps you would like to travel into the 1920’s for a day, replacing all of the surrounding cars, people and buildings with virtual retro counterparts. Or maybe you would like to be able to see through the walls of your office, just so you always know exactly where your co-workers are. What if you want to replace all advertisements that surround you with pieces of modern art? Or make that one bar always resemble the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars, filled with digital alien creatures amidst the humans in the space. In a world of MR, there are no creative constraints, and this allows us users to have agency over their own realities in a way that we’ve never encountered before.

Ultimately, these devices will eventually give you the power to choose to live anywhere within a ‘vanilla’ and ‘fully virtual’ reality spectrum, representing a technological shift from a world of Personal Devices to a world of Personal Universes. Entire companies will rise and fall trying to create the perfect fantasy and life may be bound to become the most complex choose-your-own-adventure game ever created.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I believe that the potential of this technology is too great to pass and will likely bring much more prosperity than harm, similarly to all technologies that preceded it. It has the ability to reshape education completely, allowing an entirely new generation to learn not by looking at pictures at a book, but by seeing, living and vividly experiencing all topics they learn about. Other benign uses of MR can push people to be more empathetic, curious and free beings, dragging us away from our rectangular prisons and handing us a world far more beautiful when viewed with a new set of eyes.

Virtual and Mixed Reality bring about new forms of interacting with digital information that will revolutionize not only all the things we learn and do whether in a class room or solving critical engineering problems. It will open the doors to a new, unexplored reality filled with possibilities, where we will have the power to customize our human learning experience, away from the limitations and isolation of traditional computers and screens.

Microsoft first announced HoloLens in January 2015 and shipped to developers and commercial partners in the United States and Canada on March 31, 2016. The company continues to invest in technologies that are enabling the broader ecosystem to create for mixed reality worldwide.

“At Microsoft, we are on a mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more,” said Veronica Chiu, Windows and Devices Business Group Lead, Microsoft Singapore. “Mixed reality has the potential to help customers and businesses across the globe and in Singapore do things that, until now, have never been possible. Mixed reality experiences will help businesses and their employees to complete crucial tasks faster, safer, more efficiently, and create new ways to connect to customers and partners.”

In Singapore, the Lab on Wheels program has launched an Immersive Media themed bus in March to bring enriching Immersive Media experiences to schools and the community. The Lab on Wheels Immersive Media themed bus aims to showcase and educate students and the community about how immersive media technologies can impact the way they learn, work, live and play. Microsoft and their education partner, Serl.io, are key partners in this effort to bring mixed reality experiences to students and the public through Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

- 5 Powerful Real-World Examples That Show the Latest Advances


When it comes to our health, especially in matters of life and death, the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve outcomes is very intriguing. While there is still much to overcome to achieve AI-dependent health care, most notably data privacy concerns and fears of mismanaged care due to machine error and lack of human oversight, there is sufficient potential that our government, tech companies, and healthcare providers are willing to invest and test out AI-powered tools and solutions.

There’s a lot of excitement right now about how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change health care. And many AI technologies are cropping up to help people streamline administrative and clinical health care processes. According to venture capital firm Rock Health, based in San Francisco, 121 health AI and machine learning companies raised $2.7 billion in 206 deals between 2011 and 2017.

The field of health AI is seemingly wide—covering wellness to diagnostics to operational technologies—but it is also narrow in that health AI applications typically perform just a single task, therefore; AI applications could create up to $150 billion in annual savings for U.S. health care alone by 2026.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore launched AI.SG, a national programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to catalyze, synergize and boost Singapore’s AI capabilities. Up to $150 million will be invested in AI.SG over the next five years that will include Healthcare AI initiatives.

We identified these specific AI applications based on how likely adoption was and what potential exists for annual savings. We found AI currently creates the most value in helping frontline clinicians be more productive and in making back-end processes more efficient. Here are five of the AI advances in healthcare that appear to have the most potential.


Healthcare | Singapore Enterprise Association

With an estimated value of $40 billion to healthcare, robots can analyze data from pre-op medical records to guide a surgeon's instrument during surgery, which can lead to a 21% reduction in a patient's hospital stay. Robot-assisted surgery is considered "minimally invasive" so patients won't need to heal from large incisions. Via artificial intelligence, robots can use data from past operations to inform new surgical techniques. The positive results are indeed promising. One study conducted by Harvard Business School that involved 379 orthopedic patients found that AI-assisted robotic procedure resulted in five times fewer complications compared to surgeons operating alone. A robot was used on an eye surgery for the first time, and the most advanced surgical robot, the Da Vinci allows doctors to perform complex procedures with greater control than conventional approaches. Heart surgeons are assisted by Heartlander, a miniature robot that enters a small incision on the chest to perform mapping and therapy over the surface of the heart.

2.  Virtual nursing assistants

From interacting with patients to directing patients to the most effective care setting, Virtual Nursing Assistants could save the healthcare industry $20 billion annually. Since virtual nurses similar to ChatBots are available 24/7, they can answer questions, monitor patients and provide quick answers. Most applications of virtual nursing assistants today allow for more regular communication between patients and care providers between office visits to prevent hospital readmission or unnecessary hospital visits. Care Angel's virtual nurse assistant can even provide wellness checks through voice and AI.

3.  Aid clinical judgment or diagnosis

Admittedly, using AI to diagnose patients is undoubtedly in its infancy, but there have been some exciting use cases. A Stanford University study tested an AI algorithm to detect skin cancers against dermatologists, and it performed at the level of the humans. A Danish AI software company, Corti tested its deep-learning program by having a computer eavesdrop while human dispatchers took emergency calls. The algorithm analyzed what a person says, the tone of voice and background noise and detected cardiac arrests with a 93% success rate compared to 73% for humans. Baidu Research recently announced that the results of early tests on its deep learning algorithm indicate that it can outperform humans when identifying breast cancer metastasis.

4.  Workflow and administrative tasks

Another way AI can impact healthcare is to automate administrative tasks. It is expected that this could result in $18 billion in savings for the healthcare industry as machines can help doctors, nurses and other providers save time on tasks. Technology such as voice-to-text transcriptions could help order tests, prescribe medications and write chart notes. One example of using AI to support admin tasks is a partnership between the Cleveland Clinic and IBM that uses IBM’s Watson to mine big data and help physicians provide a personalized and more efficient treatment experience. One way Watson supports physicians is being able to analyze thousands of medical papers using natural language processing to inform treatment plans.

5.  Image analysis

Currently, image analysis is very time consuming for human providers, but an MIT-led research team developed a machine-learning algorithm that can analyze 3D scans up to 1,000 times faster than what is possible today. This near real-time assessment can provide critical input for surgeons who are operating. It is also hoped that AI can help to improve the next generation of radiology tools that don’t rely on tissue samples. Additionally, AI image analysis could support remote areas that don’t have easy access to healthcare providers and even make telemedicine more effective as patients can use their camera phones to send in pics of rashes, cuts or bruises to determine what care is necessary.

In the very complex world of healthcare, AI tools can support human providers to provide faster service, diagnose issues and analyze data to identify trends or genetic information that would predispose someone to a particular disease. When saving minutes can mean saving lives, AI and machine learning can be transformative not only for healthcare in Sinapore but for every single patient.

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

In the past few years, AI has created a lot of buzz in the industry, either directly or indirectly it has managed to touch everyone’s life. Movies like The Terminator, Ex Machina and The Matrix have also given us a little glimpse of how AI could be like.  But that doesn’t end all the suspense and curiosity regarding AI.  Marketers are expecting AI to be the next revolution in the Customer Service Industry.  The automated solutions are going to be all around you as Singapore businesses are moving towards AI-powered customer service support. AI covers a wide span of capabilities and, despite past fears, is becoming something that organizations see as potentially having a positive impact as it uncovers trends and makes human lives easier.

According to media reports, China and the US are leading the way in adopting AI, with the former’s percentage of AI patents granted growing by 190 per cent in a five-year period and the latter investing close to $10 billion in venture capital.   Not to be left behind by the other two superpowers though, Russia’s president has announced his intentions to make 30 per cent of its military equipment robotic by 2025.

The compound annual growth rate of AI has hit 60 per cent and is still growing.  Singapore is itself funding extensively millions in investment in AI and one industry here that stands to benefit from AI is uniquely in field and customer service – bringing together customer, service, field technician, and management to accomplish superior service expected by customers. ​


Which industries stand to benefit most from AI adoption?


Field service organizations such as Building & Construction equipment, Energy, Power and Utilities, HVAC, Industrial Manufacturing & Equipment, High Tech & Telecoms, Health Sciences & Medical Equipment increasingly feel the pressure to maximize the productivity and efficiency of their workforce so they get every job right on the first try by offering better, faster, more efficient field service to keep customers happy and reducing costs through increased productivity and compliance.

AI makes this possible. AI enables “predictive field service”, which anticipates service requirements and automatically adjusts business processes accordingly. For example, the technology automatically reshuffles technician schedules if there are more optimal ways to deliver service as the day progresses.

If an emergency situation arises, such as a gas leak for a gas utility company, the system can propose how best to address this from a resource perspective, while minimizing the impact on other previously scheduled tasks. The IOT (Internet of Things) will drive more proactive device maintenance, service and repair.

How can AI benefit an organization?

AI can access a wealth of historical information (the weather, the parts required, at what point in the day the appointment takes place, the number of similar tasks the technician has done and more) to then discern which of these characteristics correlate, and to what extent, with the length of time the task takes. Using this much more complete knowledge, and adding to it over time, the system can use the characteristics of future tasks to predict a likely task duration. This approach is much more effective as evidenced by customers of ClickSoftware who have improved task duration accuracy by -20 per cent, greatly increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction, after the implementation of AI-infused field service management solutions.

In the world of field service, for example, where you have 1,000 tasks and 100 field service technicians available, AI more quickly and efficiently determines who to send where. With all the permutations and combinations, this is not a task for humans!

How can AI be leveraged to deliver a more effective service?

One of the most common use cases for AI in field service is for AI to identify the right field service management resource to address a particular task at a time that makes sense for both the customer and the business. This is a challenging problem that depends on the characteristics of the task and the capabilities of the field service professionals, amongst many other variables, to determine the solution.

Using AI to estimate travel times, task durations and other key components of service delivery enables organizations to deliver greater efficiency and resource utilization, improved effectiveness through better first-time fix rates, and faster responses to emergency situations. In addition, customer satisfaction is enhanced through customers getting a more precise estimate of when service will take place and an overall higher quality service.

By incorporating AI into field service processes, organizations can do more work with the same number of resources, and benefit from more accurate resource plans and smaller service windows that improve both customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction.


Are AI robots likely to replaced humans in the workplace? There’s no doubt that technology is becoming faster, smarter, better - but to-date there’s no technology that is not powered, at least initially, by a human. Many jobs, by their very nature, require human intervention, which to date cannot be programmed into a machine. From doctors and nurses to artists and writers; the world will seemingly always have a need for compassion, empathy, trust and personality. It will take a long time for robots to have social skills that rival human beings. 


Forrester’s The Future of Jobs 2027: Working Side by Side with Robots report reveals that automation “won’t destroy all jobs, but it will transform the workforce”. One example of this is how AI can make a positive impact on employee experience. Within field service, the use of AI will allow dispatchers to become exception handlers, freeing up their time to focus on more strategic priorities, while technicians are able to spend more of their time helping customers.


Rather than replace employees, Forrester’s report highlights how AI and other automation technologies “can augment human capabilities to help employees do their jobs more efficiently.”


While some jobs may be lost due to AI, automation will also still create a new division of labour, with humans being retrained to work in robot support and programming roles.


This idea is supported in a survey done by workforce solutions company, Adecco, where almost 65 per cent of senior leaders felt that AI technology would increase the number of jobs available while the majority believed it would make jobs easier and free employees up to work on more important and enjoyable tasks.


Will AI create new roles for employees within the workplace?


While tasks that are simple and monotonous can be easily automated, gradually resulting in certain roles becoming obsolete, today’s consumers demand an unprecedented level and speed of service. AI solutions can be used here to enhance the ability of technicians to resolve issues on the first visit, or perhaps resolve an issue remotely, avoiding dispatching a technician in a truck (truck roll).


Artificial intelligence and machine learning also help close any skills gaps by applying data on individual performance to the task at hand to determine who is the most adept at a certain activity. If there’s a lack of workers with the skills to complete the task, it is flagged immediately, allowing leaders to either fill the hole or find another solution. Machine learning can hold information on employees’ past jobs and behaviors and make informed decisions to optimize the service provided by engineers. At the end of the day, innovation and changing consumer demands has led to the death of transactional service and the prioritization of customer experience.


The Forrester Future of Jobs 2027 report goes on to say organizations – or individuals – can “plug in workers with specific skills sets or credentials to solve problems on demand, often in real time” and prompt the “involvement of humans in a workflow” as and when they are needed, such as preventative maintenance measures to reduce downtime.


Why should communication about the use of AI be a priority from day one?


When it comes to handling communication with employees about the potential for jobs to be replaced, a recent Infosys survey of 1,600 business and IT executives found that AI is a long-term priority for innovation, with 76 per cent of respondents agreeing AI is “fundamental to the success of their organization’s strategy.” Sixty-four per cent stated the future growth of their business depends on AI adoption. All businesses should, therefore, have a clear strategy as to how they will communicate the use of AI in their organization.


The best way to handle the communication process is to start it early and ensure that regular conversations happen on an ongoing basis. Updates should be provided as and when they arise, keeping everyone in the loop. From project inception all the way through to the automation roll-out, the CEO needs to include everyone in the company in the communications, and this can be done more seamlessly via the initial selected stakeholders.


Being involved from the start means that the stakeholders will not only feel like they have a say, but they can also spread the word to their peers about the benefits of AI and automation, and answer any concerns that those employees may have, but are reluctant to speak with management about.


What will the future bring for AI?


In the future, AI will play an even greater role in the service delivery process with machine learning models able to predict with greater and greater accuracy the likelihood that a customer will cancel an appointment, what parts will be needed to fix a particular customer problem, or the likelihood of a first-time fix.


AI will enable service organizations to create new business models where customers pay for uptime, rather than buying or leasing equipment from manufacturers. AI will set prescriptive maintenance programmes for this equipment, so it is always in good working order.


Conclusion:


Organizations must bring together customer, service, field technician, and management to use automation solution expertise to increase revenue, expand into new markets and differentiate their services to meet today’s diversity of consumers’ needs.

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Chairman Charles Chandar.jpg

Productivity & Innovation Portal

Council Chairman, Charles Chandar graduated with a MBA (Master of Business Administration) from Harvard University (Harvard Business School).

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