Mixed reality backbone Industry after post-pandemic or before?

Mixed Reality is an emerging technology that is a combination of the physical and artificial environments that allows the end-users to communicate with the computers and the surroundings in the world in new ways. Microsoft Project Barabooka, a.k.a ‘Hololens’ brings Mixed Reality to regulate the environments of Healthcare, Manufacturing and Retail Industries to address the current communication problem by delivering a lifelike experience to the end-users.

Interacting with the customers to get a sense of what is being expected from the companies is crucial for any business. The COVID-19 pandemic has given a visual of what the world can be if this communication between the companies and customers disrupts. Keeping this in mind the Tech Giants like Microsoft are working on a combination of Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality also known as Mixed Reality. It is an emerging technology that is a combination of the physical and artificial environments that allows us to communicate with computers and the surroundings in new ways. Moreover, it can help to bridge the gap between enterprise and end-users(customers) via an interactive communication channel in a new form. Adopting such technologies and going through constant digital transformations, has given a new pathway and vision to the organizations that make them adaptive to the changes in today’s world and become more productive.

To look at the transformative potential of Mixed Reality technology, 3 organizations have been discussed in the article. Firstly, AirBus which is an airliner manufacturer achieved better design and prototyping solutions by using Microsoft Azure Mixed Reality with Hololens to accomplish their strict production targets. Hololens not only helped to speed up aircraft design and manufacturing but also in improving teamwork and communicating complex concepts. Secondly, L’Oréal, a cosmetic company, used Remote Assistance via HoloLens to accelerate issue diagnosis and resolution. It reduced the time taken to resolve issues that stopped production and decreased the repair costs. Finally, Case Western Reserve University used HoloAnatomy software on Hololens, to teach students in a highly visual environment and provide them hands-on training in a low-risk setting. Mixed Reality enables each organisation to build strong team collaboration that in turn helps them to achieve a higher return on investment. Now almost half of the organizations currently use Mixed Reality for Design and Prototyping, remote assistance and simulation training.

Airbus ( Design & Prototyping )

Airbus is a leading designer and manufacturer of commercial and military aircraft, satellites, and launch vehicles, and a pioneer in aerospace technology. In its first 40 years, Airbus produced 10,000 planes, intending to produce 20,000 more in the next 20. Airbus is setting the stage by using HoloLens for Design and Prototyping solutions to reach their strict production targets. Airbus is using Azure mixed reality to fully utilise the capabilities of the HoloLens and plans to reduce design validation time by 80% and accelerate complex assembly tasks by 30%.

Design and Prototyping represents a key Mixed Reality use case within Manufacturing. Mixed Reality transforms 2D concept simulation files into high-resolution 3D digital replicas that workers can communicate with and manipulate using motion control. This enables teams to rapidly iterate and collaborate on new product ideas, as well as determine whether or not they are ready for industrialization. Airbus is using Microsoft Azure Mixed Reality with HoloLens to speed up aircraft design and manufacturing, improve teamwork, and change how complex concepts are communicated. Airbus was one of the first major manufacturers to recognise the ability of Mixed Reality to increase production speed while preserving quality and safety and has been collaborating with Microsoft on this since 2015.

Mixed reality played a major role in Airbus success by transforming and managing the current operation in designing, prototyping, Team collaboration, Field Service. The transformation aligns with the business capabilities and technology utilisation throughout the organisation using a simple user interface. Moreover, Airbus plans to increase efficiencies of complex tasks during assembly by 30% while simultaneously improving efficiency, protection, and security, in addition to these already-measurable improvements. There are more than 300 use cases in the utilisation of this emerging technology

Airbus plans to increase efficiencies of complex tasks during assembly by 30% while simultaneously improving efficiency, protection, and security, in addition to these already-measurable improvements. In order to fully use this technology, they have already documented more than 300 use cases for Mixed Reality.

L’Oréal ( Remote Assistance )

L’Oréal is well-known around the world for the high quality and wide range of its cosmetics. The organisation is aiming to lower costs, improve activities, and reduce travel by linking workers around the world through mixed reality. L’Oréal implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens to help workers be more effective and productive by making it easier to instal, update, troubleshoot, and inspect manufacturing equipment with help from remote experts in real-time.

When an industrial component fails, the new equipment must be installed or an audit must be performed; however, explaining the procedure over the phone is not always straightforward, and getting experts on-site takes time and resources. L’Oréal will now rely on the skills of those who aren’t on-site to complete these tasks in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Since 2012, the company has been aggressively investing in digital transformation, seeing immersive technology as a path to the future. Remote Assistance, like other Mixed Reality applications, is proving to be a worthwhile investment. Manufacturing companies that use Mixed Reality for Remote Assistance report an average increase of 31% in accelerating problem diagnosis and resolution, with L’Oréal reporting a 50% improvement.

Time is like essence for L’Oréal, and Remote Assistance’s ability to transfer information through space and time with the same accuracy as on-site assistance has proven to be a tremendous advantage.

Case Western Reserve University (training and simulation)

Case Western designed a new Health Education Campus, it did so with the intention of housing the most cutting-edge medical learning facilities and technology. The Medical Department at Case Western Reserve University has found a way to more efficiently teach anatomy and provide students with hands-on training in a low-risk environment without jeopardizing patients.

The creation and implementation of the HoloAnatomy application, a mixed reality anatomy application designed to replace cadaver dissections and developed for the Microsoft HoloLens, is one of the university initiatives. The HoloAnatomy technology was already being used successfully in classroom applications prior to the COVID-19 crisis. However, it was when the school switched to distance learning that technology showed how it could help students succeed.

In comparison to their peers who did not use the technology, HoloAnatomy students retained 120 percent more experience over the course of a year and saw a 50 percent increase in grades as compared to conventional textbook learning. These findings indicate that being able to see and engage with 3D images in anatomy classes aids students in not only learning but also deeply internalizing the material. Case Western aims to introduce HoloLens teaching strategies across different departments as a result of their undeniable progress in learning and performance outcomes.

Comments

Depending on the requirements, companies adopt different emerging technologies to constantly improve their performance/production. In the case of Airbus, using Microsoft’s HoloLens, Mixed Reality has transformed 2D concept simulation files into high resolution 3D digital replicas that helped improve workers’ performance and increase overall production of the company. L’Oréal used Mixed Reality for Remote Assistance to accelerate issue diagnosis and resolution. This saved time for L’Oréal and helped achieve higher employee performance and morale to meet production deadlines. To teach and provide students with hands-on training in low-risk environments, Case Western Reserve University used their HoloAnatomy software on HoloLens. Students’ grades and their capacity to retain more knowledge improved drastically. Communicating or in these cases projecting information with the help of Mixed Reality helped accomplish better results and improved overall performance in all the 3 organizations.

The adoption of mixed reality in the commercial industry is estimated to increase by 50% by 2025 covering a market cap of approximately 21 billion dollars. The need for technology is relative to the present scenario of the environment and it keeps evolving. This technology didn’t make sense when introduced in 2015, as the application was limited to specific use cases. With years of improvement, the technology evolves to resolve industrial operation issue and limitation after the post-pandemic.

What next!

In the first quarter of 2021, Microsoft introduces Microsoft Mesh that enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere — on any device — through mixed reality applications. Microsoft launched a preview of the Mesh app for HoloLens during Ignite 2021, which is initially aimed at enabling co-workers to collaborate with each other remotely. Customers can also request access to a new version of Mesh-enabled AltspaceVR, which will allow companies to hold meetings and work gatherings in virtual reality with enterprise-grade security features including secure sign-ins, session management and privacy compliance.

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