The Industrial Applications of HoloLens
What exactly is HoloLens all about?
Most simply put, HoloLens is a pair of mixed reality smartglasses developed and manufactured by Microsoft.
The HoloLens began as an advancement of the already existing technology behind Microsoft Kinect, an add-on for the Xbox gaming console that was first launched in 2010.
Today, you can view and experience life-sized holograms of virtually anything, thanks to this piece of smart hardware.
Aside from the obvious gaming benefits related to the enjoyment of virtual /augmented environments projected onto actual reality (known as mixed reality), Microsoft is focusing their development efforts for the HoloLens towards enterprises first. While the competitive devices to HoloLens — HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, are going after the consumer gamers cohort, the latter are a secondary target audience for Microsoft, who insists on perfecting the technology for business use above all.
We are not a high-tech enterprise, why should we care?
Contrary to popular belief, enterprises stand to benefit much more from HoloLens and other AR/VR technologies than one may think.
It is in industry that recreating models virtually can result in process optimisation and sizable savings.
While ultimately making the lives of end consumers easier, enterprises are investing in future economies, which today can be adapted faster and bring on returns in shorter periods, thanks to digital transformation processes.
A future full of holograms is a promising one because, most simply put, it doesn’t require things to be constructed, transported, maintained and sold in traditional, physical (in other words expensive) ways.
A little more than a year ago, Microsoft and Volvo announced a collaboration, aimed at utilising HoloLens for Volvo customers in their car selection and customisation process.
Being able to visualise realistic product models in 3D, explore and customise them without physically moving them or the potential customer, is extremely powerful for manufacturers and merchants as it eliminates the need for expensive showrooms, carrying extensive stock, and employing a large salesforce.
Short of actually trying out the product themselves, HoloLens can help consumers accomplish everything they traditionally could at a physical showroom by simply donning a pair of smartglasses and using natural hand movements.
With HoloLens the peripheral vision of the user is, for the most part, preserved, in order to allow the free movement around spaces, such as showrooms.
This is a significant benefit to companies like Volvo, where the car and the dealership environment are both very important.
In production environments, having access to live data from IoT-enabled machines for equipment controllers and line supervisors is very useful as they can improve planning processes and maintenance work to the tee.
For manufacturing contractors and field workers, being able to view real-time data in the cloud during the execution of their work means decision-making about production inputs and output volume, among other key metrics, is accurate and timely.
Applications for designers
Hololens enables 3D design in a highly realistic environment, resulting in models that resemble the final product as closely as possible.
Virtual teams of designers can also collaborate on product designs and share ideas remotely, this reducing travel costs.
Imagine being able to train hundreds of installers, hardware specialists or other field works responsible for making sure your product is installed and functioning correctly, without investing in the financial/human resources and infrastructure needed to run training events? Now, imagine being able to offer the same high-quality customisable and highly detailed learning capabilities to your entire user base in an accessible way, without them ever leaving the comfort of their homes? The financial and time savings from having technology enabling this at your fingertips would certainly be sizable.
Verhaert Digital has been deeply interested in HoloLens since it was announced in 2015 and our developers have been learning about the Windows SDK (software development kit), necessary for building apps for the HoloLens. We have also experimented with HoloLens hardware to the point of being very comfortable in developing enterprise-level applications, utilising the technology. We look forward to launching new projects based on HoloLens and working together on finding out who you can integrate it into your commercial, production or training processes.
Want to learn more about HoloLens and what it can do?
Verhaert Digital can organise a custom demo workshop at your place of business or enterprise, showing you some interesting examples of how you can implement and benefit from HoloLens technology by being imaginative and building optimal applications with our help. Please contact us for more details.