January 2, 2024
In 2023, organizations continued to explore, deploy, and even expand use of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR or XR). Popular applications included remote support and training, of course, as well as digital twins, marketing, and virtual offices. Check out some of the more noteworthy use cases from the past year:
Auto companies remained on the cutting edge of XR adoption in 2023. In January, Honda showed off its VR Design Studios in L.A. where the brand uses XR to fast-track development of new vehicles. The following month, Toyota launched an AR view-in-your-space experience to support the 2023 Crown; and Kia Germany opened its first flagship dealership in the metaverse. Speaking of the metaverse, Fiat added ChatGPT to the Fiat Metaverse Store, a virtual car showroom where visitors interact with a genAI-powered Fiat Genius.
In March, BMW started a global rollout of Nvidia’s Omniverse platform. The luxury car brand, for one, uses digital twins for factory planning. In the case of a factory set to open in 2025, that includes optimizing layouts, robotics, and logistics systems before production starts. BMW also uses Hololight Space on HoloLens 2 at its Munich headquarters to speed up processes like the testing of concept vehicles and verification of assembly processes.
In April and May, Porsche Cars North America switched to the HoloLens 2 to continue providing next-level remote support and training to dealer technicians; while Volvo launched an AR safety app designed to support first responders in an emergency involving one of its electric trucks.
Portuguese energy company REN introduced AR with real-time location on tablets to help substation teams avoid unsafe areas and reduce accidents. Meanwhile, Siemens Energy has been using Microsoft Teams and HoloLens 2 to simplify acceptance testing by creating “virtual test beds” where customers can inspect and approve orders before shipping.
Energy companies also embraced digital twins in 2023. BP deployed Aize’s digital twin solution in the North Sea region to support maintenance, inspection, modifications, and more by consolidating engineering and operational data into a common digital view of BP’s physical assets. Halliburton also recently announced it’s developing a digital twin system for Petrobras in Brazil to “reduce capital expenditure, accelerate production times, and improve crude oil recovery rate.”
Though not an energy company, Vancouver Airport Authority worked with Unity over the summer to deploy large-scale digital twins to “meet environmental, social, and corporate governance goals.”
Offices in the Metaverse
In 2022, Accenture debuted the Nth floor, its metaverse campus for onboarding new hires. This year, more brands opened virtual workspaces, including beauty company Coty and flexible workspace provider Clockwise. The Coty Campus is a gamified metaverse training space to boost relationship building and collaboration among its global staff, while the Clockwise Campus features virtual meeting rooms, dedicated desks, call zones, and more. Spanish bank BBVA also opened a virtual version of its Madrid headquarters in the Lendaryum metaverse.
Nestlé rolled out VR at a Nescafé factory in Northern Spain to educate employees about traffic rules on company premises and safety instructions on the production floor. Similarly, UPS is using VR to prepare delivery drivers for any traffic situation in a bid to improve road safety.
ASK Chemicals is using AR for field support as part of an effort to capture the knowledge of soon-to-retire experts; while new hires at Bank of America are able to tour a virtual bank branch, learn about their benefits, practice with an angry customer, and more thanks to VR and AI.
AA, the UK version of Triple A, reduced time-to-competence and overall required training for mobile mechanics with VR. Australian supermarket giant Woolworths worked with Strivr on virtual de-escalation training. Insurance firm AXA XL introduced VR in the form of a 3D factory model to train risk managers, facilities and plant managers, and site operators; and Five Guys fast food chain announced plans to roll out VR headsets to immerse crew members in a virtual store during theory training.
Retailers turned to XR for merchandising in 2023: Nestlé Purina Petcare partnered with Blue Yonder and 3DVR Solutions to enable associates to collaborate remotely with retail partners as avatars in designing and planning shelves. Similarly, Hershey tapped into AR and image recognition to help retailers better position merchandise in stores to drive sales.
Marketing in the Metaverse
A number of brands turned to XR and the metaverse to reach consumers: Luxury brands Cartier and Tiffany & Co. launched AR virtual try-on campaigns targeting Gen Z shoppers, while Coca-Cola launched an AR giveaway and nationwide campaign with Tesco for Coke Zero and American Express created an AR mall highlighting 10 small businesses for its “Door to Shop Small” campaign. Even Dermavant and Botox Cosmetic chose AR (Snapchat Lenses) to educate consumers about their FDA-approved Psoriasis products.
In March, Royal Caribbean revealed the massive Icon of the Seas cruise ship on Fortnite; and in June, LVMH teamed up with Fortnite creator Epic Games to create new immersive customer experiences and add new 3D tools to its design pipeline.
Macy’s and Reebok also experimented in the metaverse: Macy’s introduced Mstylelab, a metaverse hub for “style inspiration and discovery,” while Reebok announced plans to launch digital wearables in the metaverse in 2024. In a similar vein, Amazon announced Amazon Anywhere, an immersive shopping experience allowing customers to purchase real items within virtual worlds.
Lastly, I want to highlight logistics giant Hellman for looking to the metaverse to expand the reach of its talent recruitment efforts. Expect to see more XR in recruitment and in HR in general in the coming year, along with increasingly sophisticated and interconnected digital twins and the enhancement of existing XR use cases with artificial intelligence.