Using HoloLens for Design and Asset Visualization

Written BY

Emily Friedman

January 17, 2018

Just as there is a disconnect in designing three-dimensional structures and spaces on two-dimensional screens – and in executing and arranging 2D designs in real space – there is a disconnect in taking multiple data sets and real-time data streams in different formats and attempting to identify patterns and insights to apply in the real world. Architects and designers have been first-movers when it comes to using Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies in the design process; but there are other professions that call for digesting complex information, understanding complex situations and environments, and planning with moving parts. Below are three enterprise scenarios in which Microsoft’s HoloLens Mixed Reality headset is used as a design and asset/data visualization tool:

Workspace layouts (office space, shop floor, job site, store…)

Polamer Precision, an aerospace manufacturer, has been using Microsoft’s HoloLens Mixed Reality headset to map out its manufacturing “cell” layout. In Mixed Reality, users can test out positions for workstations and tooling and ensure that forklifts and other equipment will have room to operate. Imagine walking into a real-world environment like a job site – perhaps the site changes with every job – and having the ability to view holograms of the machines, vehicles, tools and human workers that will need to be brought on site to get the job done. It takes the guess work out of the planning process and helps avoid costly delays.

Stryker is another company using HoloLens in this way—in hospitals. The medical device company sells equipment for hospital operating rooms, helping its clients figure out ideal arrangements of equipment to create state-of-the-art ORs.

In a typical hospital, multiple practitioners from different surgical disciplines share a single OR. Figuring out how to install the equipment is not just about fitting all the items into the room; the layout also has to be practical for every doctor (and nurse) that will need to move around and operate there, not to mention safe for patients.

Instead of having all stakeholders physically present to work this out or manually moving around heavy (and expensive) equipment to test out different configurations, Stryker has been using HoloLens and its own By Design software to build and modify possible OR scenarios with holograms. AR brings Stryker’s portfolio of digital 3D assets to life, allowing for better and faster collaboration.

Financial planning

When you hear “wearable tech in banking,” you probably think of contactless payments; but financial services companies are exploring Augmented Reality for wealth management and the trading room, as a tool for interacting with large quantities of complex data and advising clients remotely. In Spring 2016, Citi – working with 8Ninths – became the first bank to reveal a proof of concept for AR in stock trading.

In the YouTube demo, you see a Citi trader no longer confined to the trading desk. He checks the news on the traditional 2D monitors that flank his workstation before putting on HoloLens. Using the holographic trading tools via voice commands, he “sees and quickly assesses a dynamic, 3D visual snapshot of what’s happening in the market right now.” Noticing a lot of activity in one sector, he has an idea for a trade that he shares remotely with a client.

In Mixed Reality, the Citi trader is better able to monitor, analyze and manipulate real-time market news and trends, bids and offers, etc. unimpaired by a lack of screen real estate. It’s digital downsizing—from 6-8 monitors composing a typical trader’s workspace to two monitors and a headset opening up an entire interactive trading world.

A year after Citi’s demo, FlexTrade, a provider of execution and order management trading systems, announced its augmented reality trading application for HoloLens. The app, called FlexAR, offered “a new way of visualizing and presenting trading,” with an interactive order blotter, trade ticket, and charting. Traders could make faster and better data-driven decisions by viewing and interacting with stock prices, volume, profit and loss, and other complex data in a virtual space. AI would add contextual information, identifying key elements like price or volume changes in real time and automatically bringing up information about a specific company or trade in consideration. Interestingly, FlexTrade found Virtual Reality too immersive for the use case.

A holistic view of enterprise operations

Air transport IT provider SITA, with Helsinki Airport, has been exploring the potential of Mixed Reality for airlines and airports. In a study, SITA Lab simulated the airport operational control center (AOCC) in MR, interfacing multiple data sources to produce a unique and dynamic, 3D view of Helsinki Airport’s operations. Operators wearing HoloLens could see and interact with dashboards of real-time operational data like passenger location, security wait times, flight statuses, gate information and retail analytics; correlating events to gain insights for better managing the airport’s operations.

These examples show possibilities for HoloLens beyond a machine overlay for maintenance and training. In ever-changing environments like busy airports and hospitals, Augmented Reality is superior to the 2D tools we currently use to view (and make decisions about) complex situations with a lot of moving parts. And for managing the complexity of data that makes up the world of banking and finance, AR is an unparalleled medium that turns data points into digital content with which users can engage.

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