If you follow new-technology media hype, you’ve probably heard about augmented reality. In 2013, Google made the first great leap into the field with Google Glass, a set of eyeglasses that can layer digital information and a simulated environment over stuff as you’re walking around and looking at it. Other apps have since followed. These applications were either experimental or just for fun, but augmented reality is on its way out of the labs and the playgrounds. It may well be the future of accounting services.
The heart of augmented reality is the enrichment of the world around you with information you’d normally have to access on a computer. Say you’re at a conference and you bump into someone in the corridor. You don’t know who he is, but when you look at his face with your augmented reality contact lenses, the system recognizes the stranger’s face and displays his name, company he works for, and his place on the convention schedule. The words seem to just hover in the air next to his head, and he has the same information about you. That would certainly help to break the ice.
The intersection between augmented reality and the world of accounting services is interesting. A lot of what accountants do is track information about objects. Augmented reality merges the two, so the entire history of an object is as obvious and natural to see as its colour. Imagine if you could set an app to display the price of every piece of inventory along with its origin, destination, depreciation status, and location in the budget as soon as you look at it. Imagine motion sensors that let you input commands, such as to accelerate the depreciation on a worn-out piece of machinery.
Preparing for this new world can start in your office right now. If you adapt to augmented reality before it becomes everybody’s technology, your firm is ready when the real shift happens. There are already a lot of apps available, and you may want to encourage your staff to play with them. Even if one of the apps is a tattoo simulator; the important thing is to get comfortable with the concept, not the execution.
Augmented reality may soon change how accounting works. By digitizing sources of data and practicing with what’s on the market now, you and your staff can get a head start on this future.