Louis Deane, a University of Hull graduate who co-founded VISR, one of the earliest Microsoft Mixed Reality partners in Europe, used the example of a car workshop to explain how the technology could impact our working lives.
“The car engineer of the future is going to work very differently to the way they work today. It’s exciting because, fundamentally, the task of repairing vehicles has operationally been the same for decades and we have an opportunity to change it.
“The engineer can now work in an environment where, as they approach a vehicle, the HoloLens can recognise where the work has to be carried out and provide direct visual instructions overlaid on the car. Pair this with intelligent devices, such as robots that bring the exact required parts and tools so they’re at hand and work with the technician to make them more efficient, and suddenly you’re looking at huge increases in cost savings and productivity.
“In order to make this a reality you need three key things: devices capable of providing this kind of smart data, a platform powerful enough to do something meaningful with it and people skilled enough to author such a system. In Hull we have all three!
“The shift we are going to see as a result of this technology over the next 10 to 15 years is going to be astronomical and we are running this programme to allow a group of carefully-selected companies to be first to grasp the opportunity this technology represents,” added Louis.
“It is exactly this type of innovative disruption that has made global businesses really sit up and take notice. The fact that it also perfectly aligns to Industry 4.0 and its principles only adds to the excitement around it.”
Companies already signed up to the Mixed Reality Accelerator include car maker Audi, global drinks brand AB InBev, energy company Centrica and India-based digital learning experts, LearningMate.
Audi is looking to use technologies like VERTX, and visual and spatial computing, to improve context awareness and workflow in order to support its technicians.
“For us, it is a great opportunity to bring our experience and vision of future use cases in contact with the experts in the different fields, added with the creativity and knowledge of the team at the University. The intention and goals of the initiative are a perfect fit for our activities and we are looking forward to working together,” said Jan Pflueger, Coordination AR & VR, Center of Competence AR & VR at Audi AG.
Centrica’s aim is to develop an initial use case to deploy HoloLens capability within Centrica Storage, which produces and processes gas from the Rough gas field located 18 miles off the coast of East Yorkshire. It plans to use the technology to develop 3D modelling of the Easington gas terminal to improve safety and efficiency.
Gus Carroll, Chief Engineer for Centrica, said: “As a leading energy and services company, we’re always on the lookout for new innovations that will drive safe, reliable and efficient activities, both for our customers and to continuously improve how we operate as a business.
“In the first instance, we see great potential for HoloLens technology in terms of driving operational excellence, but we also see many opportunities for it across the entire,
end-to-end business to meet the changing needs of our customers.”
AB InBev, meanwhile, is looking to explore, create and get user feedback on a mixed reality use case linked to business areas including supply chain, commercial, marketing and people.
Darren Armitage, Innovation & Analytics Dir (Europe), Solutions, said: “AB InBev is excited to support an innovative and unique initiative like this that exposes us to new ways of working and new partners.”