February 27, 2019
The big news this week has been the unveiling of the much-anticipated, $3,500 HoloLens 2. The new HoloLens boasts a larger field of view (twice that of the original), higher resolution, faster and more natural interaction, and is reportedly more comfortable to wear than its predecessor. HoloLens 2 has eye-tracking and retina-scanning features, doesn’t require any fitting (making for a more streamlined experience) and even takes hygiene into account in its design. Thus far, reviewers have largely praised the device, with most writers deeming it a great leap forward for Mixed Reality.
Behind the scenes at Microsoft is a team of designers and engineers who clearly listened to feedback from early enterprise users, including major companies like Boeing and Ford that have been using HoloLens for a few years now. Other big names like Chevron, Kiewit, Bridgestone, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Merck, and BT have likewise been testing and using HoloLens. Besides the use of HoloLens, what do all of these companies have in common? They speak at EWTS every year. Indeed, over the last five Enterprise Wearable Technology Summits, we’ve followed Boeing’s and the rest’s stories from proof of concept through rollout. Read on for three use cases of HoloLens that undoubtedly helped Microsoft to improve its Mixed Reality headset.
Assembly at Boeing
Boeing is the first company that comes to mind when I hear HoloLens for business. The company has been exploring AR for years – well before Google Glass – for improving training, reducing design errors, and speeding up maintenance in multiple business units (commercial, space, defense, etc.) In assembly, Boeing workers wear HoloLens to perform the complex task of wiring an airplane, one of the most difficult jobs in airplane production. The wiring of an airplane is several miles long and there is absolutely no room for error. One mistake can lead to a testing failure, costly delay, or worse. In the past, technicians referred to 2D drawings that were multiple feet long and difficult to interpret and apply in the 3D world. Any modifications to the base model would make the job even more difficult.
HoloLens reduces workers’ cognitive load by putting an interactive, 3D digital wiring diagram right in front of the user’s eyes, overlaid on the interior of the plane wherever an electrician is installing wiring. With both hands free to do the actual wiring, Boeing’s technicians complete the task faster. In those areas of the business where Boeing has adopted HoloLens, the company has seen overall process improvements of around 40%. In another division, HoloLens is used to evaluate spacecraft designs, helping to catch issues early on in the design phase as opposed to after production has begun.
(Watch Brian Laughlin and Paul Davies of Boeing go through the multiple ways in which Boeing is applying AR in this joint presentation from EWTS 2017.
Remote Support at Chevron
The oil giant has been using and testing HoloLens in various areas of its business around the world. The technology is perhaps most appealing to Chevron for enabling “teleportation,” whereby subject matter experts can be virtually anywhere field personnel need them. HoloLens allows Chevron to address issues quickly on the front lines without paying for travel and makes for safer operations at potentially hazardous sites. A worker in the field wearing HoloLens attached to a hardhat and connected to the Chevron network can share her view through the headset with a remote expert. The expert sees exactly what she is seeing in real time on a computer screen and can augment her field of view with relevant data and media (ex. piping diagrams) while talking her through the troubleshooting process step-by-step. In this way, Chevron inspectors are also able to conduct remote inspections, identifying problems and approving changes through a first-line worker’s HoloLens.
Elsewhere at Chevron, HoloLens is the star of a proof of concept in which HoloLens-wearing design engineers project 3D models or holograms at full scale in order to see exactly what a design would look like in real life. In this case, HoloLens is a verification tool, helping engineers test models for clearance, safety and other issues before fabricating a single part, during construction, and in brownfield environments. Will a piece of equipment be operable and maintainable offshore on a floating production unit? This is the kind of question HoloLens can answer at significantly less cost, risk and effort than previously possible.
(Hear about the latest efforts at Chevron from Ed Moore, Senior Technology Strategist – IIoT Technology Area Manager, this September at EWTS 2019.)
Design at Ford
Ford has completely overhauled its design process with Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, and the auto giant isn’t done innovating with the technology. In September 2017, following an initial pilot phase, Ford expanded use and testing of HoloLens globally, allowing Ford designers around the world to collaborate more effectively on new vehicles. Rather than completely do away with the expensive and time-consuming 3D clay model approach to refining designs, Ford has added mixed reality to enhance the design process, unleash more creativity on behalf of designers, and dramatically reduce time to market. So, instead of creating a new clay model every time a change is made to a design, Ford’s designers are able to project progressive digital designs onto a base (physical) clay model, viewing these through a HoloLens headset in order to iterate more quickly.
Thousands of decisions go into designing a vehicle. In the past, evaluating a single design change (building a new clay model) could take weeks; HoloLens cuts this down to hours or even minutes. HoloLens also makes it easier for Ford’s designers to collaborate with colleagues on the engineering and management side of the business. In addition, Ford believes HoloLens has the potential to improve other areas of vehicle development, including early product conception and engineering studies, as well as training, sales and work on the factory floor.
Be the first to hear about Boeing’s, ExxonMobil’s, and others’ experiences with the new HoloLens at EWTS 2019 this September in Dallas.
Ready for some nostalgia? Remember HoloLens “Share Your Idea” campaign? Read our Top 5 Submissions
Image source: techradar
The Enterprise Wearable Technology Summit (EWTS) is an annual conference dedicated to the use of wearable technology for business and industrial applications. As the leading event for enterprise wearables, 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. The 6th annual EWTS will be held September 17-19, 2019 in Dallas, TX. More details, including agenda and early confirmed speakers, to come on the conference website.