New realities – Augmented, Virtual and Mixed – open up tremendous opportunities for visualization, communication and training in the enterprise. Applications for these technologies may not be as exciting as in Gaming and Entertainment, but they are changing the way we work and will ultimately revolutionize a number of industries.
Recognizing this, Microsoft has been marketing its HoloLens Mixed Reality headset to the enterprise sector. It’s not just that the price point puts the technology out of reach for consumers, or that HoloLens could potentially endow companies with capabilities solving many of the limitations of current technologies—HoloLens is paving the way for the future of work, even allowing industries to take a major leap into that future. Read on for some of the latest and most exciting use cases of HoloLens in enterprise:
This Boston-based construction firm specializing in large-scale infrastructure jobs believes Augmented Reality will help improve project collaboration and prevent costly mistakes. To that end, CDM Smith has been working with Object Theory, whose software solution attempts to “enable better conversations” by making sure everyone involved in a building project is on the same page, looking at the same thing.
With its ability to overlay holograms onto the real world, AR could prove to be a powerful tool for construction. CDM Smith’s innovation group imagines several potential uses for the HoloLens, including allowing construction crew to view a 3D model on top of the actual building site, in order to see where walls, equipment and materials should go. Essentially, HoloLens will allow construction workers to envision what something will look like before they build it.
In another scenario, HoloLens could help in determining whether a piece of heavy machinery will work in a given room before paying for a crane to place it there. This is somewhat hard to imagine for us non-construction folk but the idea is that before spending time and money putting materials or equipment in place for use, you could visualize aspects of the building execution to prevent setbacks and rework.
But the company is really interested in using HoloLens to close the gap between flat blueprints and 3D structures, and to speed up collaboration. It is hard to communicate three-dimensional ideas with flat screens and pieces of paper. Inevitably there are errors, omissions and order changes due to ineffective communication. With HoloLens, the architects, engineers and on-the-ground crew can discuss and visualize a potential problem by viewing the same 3D model, and quickly come up with solutions together.
*Hear CDM Smith’s Scott Aldridge share his insight on wearable tech at EWTS 2017
Urban space is becoming increasingly limited; hence the need to squeeze in as much living and office space as possible in our already packed cities by building upwards. ThyssenKrupp builds and maintains elevators around the world. New Yorkers alone travel up and down the city’s infamous skyscrapers using 71,000 elevators, half of which are more than 20 years old. To keep these in working order, ThyssenKrupp is looking to HoloLens.
A holographic training guide on the HoloLens could teach the company’s elevator repairmen how to work on different elevators and parts. With the headset, they could reference tutorials in Augmented Reality while working on a broken elevator, as well as call a supervisor or part manufacturer for remote guidance on a fix or installation. This will prove to be tremendously rewarding, as a repairman can wait days for assistance from a far-away component company, which means days of elevator downtime in a world where 1 billion people ride elevators each day.
A technician armed with HoloLens could respond to a call better prepared than ever before: Hypothetically, he could view his calls, access all kinds of relevant data on the elevator in question (ex. maintenance history, 3D pictures, safety alerts)—all hands-free, which is a novel capability for these workers.
To start, ThyssenKrupp plans to use Skype on HoloLens to enable on-site collaboration; with the larger goal of building out an entire suite of training tools to empower its 20,000+ engineers. The company sees HoloLens as the future of the elevator repair industry, the key to making its workers more efficient, skilled and protected; to increasing the availability of elevators and escalators; and to serving its customers better. HoloLens is also a “perfect complement” to ThyssenKrupp’s advanced predictive maintenance service—a great example of IoT or the marrying of different technologies.
*Learn more about this use case at EWTS 2017, where ThyssenKrupp’s Thomas Felis will be presenting a case study
Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News believes shipbuilding will become a digital business, and devices like the HoloLens will enable the company to position itself at the forefront of this inevitable transition. NNS is among the first wave of enterprises to partake in Microsoft’s exclusive HoloLens developer program. Right now, its AR team is demoing the mixed reality headset, developing prototype applications for the technology.
NNS sees great potential in the way HoloLens overlays information onto the real world—upon putting on the headset, its workers will be able to access whatever information and tools they need to do their jobs by simply air tapping or clicking in space. This kind of dynamic information accessed hands-free will free workers from having to reference physical drawings and manuals, making their lives easier if nothing else.
Again, the company is currently “playing around” with HoloLens, considering scenarios in which the device would improve its operations, as in reducing the amount of gear a worker needs to carry up a ladder to just a heads-up display. The possibilities are limitless for shipbuilding – and manufacturing in general – and NNS sees a future in which HoloLens will offer many different “work packages and apps.”
*Dan McDonald of Newport News Shipbuilding will shed more light on NNS’ experimentation with HoloLens at EWTS 2017
What a world of difference a holographic set of instructions will make for deskless workers—holograms they can view on top of the real world, on top of a real structure, a real room, a real machine. HoloLens offers this and more, including the ability to manipulate holograms in real space, say, in planning a project, and to share that kind of view with others. An individual worker using the headset to get a job done quicker, with less room for error; a group of professionals using the same device to collaborate more effectively, with less room for miscommunication…The applications that HoloLens unlocks for industry may not have the same wow factor as a game that augments your living room into an alien planet, but for the enterprises above and so many others the device represents the future of work.