Xerox Deepens Expansion Into Augmented Reality
Acquires CareAR for more robust remote service support solution
Our data indicates that companies were already moving toward automation and remote, decentralized solutions—and using new technologies to empower these goals—before the COVID-19 pandemic began. With in-person business disruptions, investment and innovation in such solutions surged as print-industry companies scrambled to strengthen remote workflow and become more efficient with fewer onsite personnel.
One of Xerox’s latest moves, the acquisition of augmented reality (AR) support platform provider CareAR, is further evidence that the largest players in the print OEM space are ramping up efforts to make their hardware and software easier to use in remote, decentralized environments. Before we go further, we should note this is not Xerox’s first foray into AR technology. The company is also working on Augmented Reality Assistant, a program designed to help users install, operate, and repair Xerox devices through a combination of AR and artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The acquisition of CareAR indicates an effort to strengthen its portfolio and expand its capabilities.
While its name might suggest healthcare, CareAR is in fact geared much more toward the business space. Their solution allows managers to connect with workers regardless of location and provide real-time walkthroughs when it comes to performing complex tasks. The platform provides numerous tools through AR, letting the expert make annotations (which are saved, even if the worker moves the screen), highlight certain areas, and provide other visual feedback. Customers can also use the solution to ask for help—with the similar real-time AR-enhanced assistance occurring.
CareAR is not unique in this endeavor. Many companies, including PTC, offer similar solutions. The difference is scale. This acquisition lets Xerox augment its AR expertise without the encumbrances that come with a larger procurement. Notably, Xerox also announced its intention to stand up its Software, Financing, and Innovation (Xerox PARC) organizations as separate and distinct businesses by 2022. CareAR will join the Xerox DocuShare and XMPie families off products in the Software business unit.
It is worth noting that, like many current AR offerings, CareAR’s solution is “mobile first.” While AR headsets do exist—and are becoming more sophisticated and more powerful—the vast majority of users still use a smartphone or a tablet to engage with an AR experience. CareAR has, in the past, mentioned they were working toward AR headset capability. We expect Xerox will continue this initiative, as headsets have already proven to be effective AR platforms in business environments.
Xerox’s move is a sign the company is shifting its focus toward new product offerings and new services to remain viable and competitive. The company recently signaled that it was looking at expansion to help recoup the damage done in part by the COVID-19 pandemic. The acquisition of CareAR likely will not be the only AR-related development they make this year.
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