Ditching the robot, training manual, pills and stock room for XR and wearables

Written BY

Emily Friedman

April 3, 2018

4 Recent Use Cases of Wearable Tech in Enterprise

When a worker in a robotic suit is better than a robot – Boeing

Industrial enterprises have been experimenting with robotics to replace humans in physically strenuous and repetitive tasks, but there are certain complex tasks that cannot be automated. One such job that only a skilled human can perform is wiring a Boeing 777. Boeing has received a lot of attention for using Augmented Reality in this area of assembly. In addition, the aerospace giant has been testing industrial exoskeletons for this process—work that is both too complex for a robot and poses a risk of injury.

Boeing sees the sweet spot for exoskeletons in cases where the safety risk cannot be designed or automated out of the process. Installing overhead electrical wiring certainly qualifies, so Boeing technicians may ultimately use both smart glasses and robotic suits for heads-up instructions and fatigue prevention. Though the company has yet to deploy exoskeletons on the factory floor, pilot programs are helping Boeing determine which models are best for which jobs. Moreover, exoskeletons have become more realistic since 2012, when Boeing began evaluating the technology, with several startups now offering lightweight devices under $5,000.

Teaching a new dog old tricks with XR – Honeywell

A major driver of industrial AR/VR adoption is the skilled labor shortage. As baby boomers retire and leave the workforce, the generation of workers replacing them tends to change jobs frequently. For organizations facing a critical “information leak,” it’s a waste of resources to train a millennial for a technical role he or she will move on from in a few years.

Honeywell, a multinational engineering, industrial and aerospace conglomerate, is hoping to reach millennials and close the skills gap with mixed reality. The Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency is a cloud-based simulation tool that uses Microsoft’s HoloLens to simulate various training scenarios for Honeywell’s C300 controller. The solution allows new employees to safely train for activities like cable and power supply failure; and measures the training’s effectiveness on plant performance through data analytics.

In testing, this method of interactive, on-the-job training improved skill retention by up to 100% compared to passive, classroom-like learning and reduced training time by up to 150%. For a generation familiar with digital content and interactivity in education; sheets of paper, check boxes, etc. don’t work. Honeywell understands that with the boomers’ exodus, the old systems of industry need updating to better align with millennials’ lifestyles.

Not another drug cocktail – The Travelers Companies

The insurance company is collaborating with Cedars-Sinai (healthcare organization), Bayer (pharmaceutical company), appliedVR (creates Virtual Reality experiences for healthcare patients), and Samsung to test a non-pharmacological “digital pain-reduction kit” for managing workplace musculoskeletal injuries. The kit consists of a Samsung Gear VR headset, a Samsung Gear Fit2 wearable fitness tracker, therapeutic VR content powered by biosensors (appliedVR solution), and a nerve stimulation device by Bayer for relieving lower back pain.

Recent research led by Travelers, Cedars-Sinai and appliedVR demonstrated that VR can reduce pain in hospitalized patients and provide an alternative to opiates. The goal of the new clinical study is to “improve outcomes for injured workers by leveraging state-of-the-art technology.” Travelers is interested in discovering new, drug-free solutions for pain management to help its customers support injured employees, lower the chance of opioid addiction, and reduce medical costs.

The perfect blend of online and store shopping – Macy’s

Though it sounds counterintuitive, the department store chain plans to use both virtual reality and e-commerce to improve its brick-and-mortar sales. Macy’s announced it will bring VR furniture sales tools to 50 stores by the summer, with the vision of offering immersive shopping technology in as many of its stores as possible in the future.

Macy’s VR Showroom is powered by Marxent’s 3D Cloud service. Customers use an iPad to add and move furniture around a room; and, once satisfied with the arrangement, an HTC Vive headset to experience the finished, fully furnished space.

In the pilot phase, VR allowed users to feel more confident with their furniture choices. Not only did they buy more but they bought items that Macy’s carries but may not be available on site at every store. That’s the beauty of VR in furniture, automobile and other high-end sales—you can sell more goods with less physical retail space to showcase it. After rolling out the solution, Macy will be able to offer furniture departments in more locations.

The 5th Annual Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit 2018, the leading event for enterprise wearables, will take place October 9-10, 2018 at The Fairmont in Austin, TX. EWTS is where enterprises go to innovate with the latest in wearable tech, including heads-up displays, AR/VR/MR, body- and wrist-worn devices, and even exoskeletons. For details, early confirmed speakers and preliminary agenda, please stay tuned to the conference website.

Further Reading