Technology continues to revolutionize the Green Industry in many ways. Mobile and software capabilities, advancing equipment, and even robotic mowers continue to update the way that landscape business owners can conduct operations. So, what's next for our industry? The implementation of augmented reality seems to be on its way here, says Michael Mayberry, chief technology officer for Level Green Landscaping in the DC Metro Area.
In fact, some augmented reality is already being used in landscape design through various apps and software.
You might have design tools that allow you to show your customers what it could look like with the addition of some plants or maybe an outdoor living area. But Mayberry says there will come a time when augmented reality goes much further.
The power of remote training
"The manufacturing industry is using augmented reality to train new people and speed up the process of onboarding," he explains. "You put on glasses or a headset and you can see what you're working on. Now you can learn where to put a bolt or what you need to watch for as you train. It's a hands-on way of learning which can really speed up the process."
Mayberry says that this kind of technology is also emerging in the HVAC industry. Some companies are using augmented reality glasses to help their people understand where parts need to go. It can also assist with diagnostics and alert workers to danger.
"I would love to see this technology picked up in the landscaping industry as I think we could really benefit from it," Mayberry says. "If you hire a new team member, we can actually guide them through a property even if we're not there with them. The power of that is immense."
Mayberry says it could even lead to a new position at some companies: Remote trainer. This person would be responsible for training new team members and coaching them through their early days in the field.
"This would allow large companies to train more people in a day because they can do it all remotely," Mayberry continues. "You eliminate pointless windshield time going from one site to another. The ability to coach remotely would be huge for our industry.
Another area where this technology could be highly useful would be in snow removal, suggests Mayberry. Heads-up displays on a truck's windshield could provide guidance and warnings.
"Prompts could come up that remind the driver where to put the snow," he says. "Or there might be a reminder about shoveling the handicapped spot. All of these notes could be conveyed directly to the driver via the windshield. Fighter pilots use heads-up displays right now."
Of course, right now, the cost of this technology makes it still unpractical for most companies. Mayberry says that a windshield set likely runs around $15,000 per windshield. For a large fleet, that's a huge investment.
The augmented glasses, however, are usually around $4,000, so we might see that adopted first.
As with most new technology, the cost is likely to eventually come down as it becomes more readily adopted.
"I'm always paying attention to what might be coming down the pipeline," Mayberry says. "For a while it was robotics, but that's already here. So the question is, What's next? I think augmented reality is definitely on that list."