Mixed Reality as an Opportunity in Times of Skills Shortage and Globalization

Virtual reality and mixed reality are promising technologies not only for industry 4.0 but also in terms of collaboration and in times of skills shortage. This blog is designed to illustrate concrete scenarios that show that a first start does not have to be costly and complex. 

I would like to address the following aspects in this article:

  • Mixed Reality and collaboration throughout organizations
    • Case-study
      • Current solution approaches in companies
      • Solution approach using mixed reality
    • Inspiration for further application scenarios
      • Mixed reality in times of skills shortage
    • Mixed Reality, simplified approach with Office 365 Teams and the HoloLens
    • Technological differentiation of Microsoft HoloLens

Here the article pdf-Download – „Mixed Reality as an Opportunity in Times of Skills Shortage and Globalization“


Workshop HoloLense Remote Assist Thino Ullmann
Thino Ullmann, author of this blog article

Many companies have already been dealing with the workplace of the future in recent years. Strategies have been developed, pilot projects implemented, and new concepts and solutions introduced. Currently, however, only excerpts of the future impact of new technologies on our working environment and workplaces are visible. In some instances, these technologies can have a disruptive and lasting effect on the world of business. For this reason, the „workplace of the future“ is not a one-off project but an ongoing process that companies and employees have to deal with.

There are technologies already in the fledgling stages that might well become game changers in their own business sectors tomorrow. Those who miss the boat will hardly be able to catch up in the future or will have to put up with considerable effort. One of the most interesting and promising technologies in this context is the virtual and augmented reality.
It is not a question of whether they will enter the professional world, but rather how strong these changes will be. The various forms of virtual reality are already being used in a large number of companies such as in the automotive industry in the field of product development, e.g. at Volkswagen (Link).

 

Mixed-Reality and Collaboration Throughout Organizations

Less obvious but no less important appear the possible applications in the field of collaboration, which are far from those classic VR scenarios. Some people are wondering now: „Is every employee in the company now supposed to get VR-glasses?“ No. It is more about integrating this technology beyond the actual mixed-reality „workplace“. Here too, this technology can be used in a meaningful way, either indirectly or directly, and it can completely redefine the ways work is done. 

 

Case-Study

I would like to make the subject more tangible for you with the following case study.

Imagine one of your workers in the field or at a remote office finding a problem that he or she needs to solve. Emails or telephone calls with colleagues will not do as a colleague needs to take a „look at it“.

 

Current Solution Approaches in the Company

How would your company react to this?

  1. Depending on the urgency of the issue, a colleague will be sent to solve the problem on site. This means high costs, travel expensens and time exposure, especially if the deployment location is not in the region of the assigned colleague but is located abroad or hundreds of kilometers away.
  2. An external service provider is contracted to solve the problem. The consequences are comparable, and costs are incurred accordingly.

Regardless of which scenario you choose it will take time and money to solve the problem. 

 

Solution Approach Using Mixed-Reality

The initial scenario has not changed. The only new feature is the use of mixed-reality glasses, which the employee already keeps with him or which are stored centrally at larger locations for such situations.

The employee activates the mixed-reality glasses and contacts the colleague who is supposed to help him with his problem via the contact menu on the display. The respective colleague is called, and a video connection is established. The remote colleague sees exactly what the on-site employee sees. At the same time the on-site employee can also see the remote co-worker in a sub-window, which improves collaboration. The remote employee now has a variety of possibilities to support his colleague. He can

  • Mirror documents into the glasses, e.g. circuit diagrams
  • Color-code areas in the environment remotely, e.g. with arrows or dashes
  • Take pictures

The following pictures will give you a first impression of what this cooperation could look like.

1 – On-site at the location2 – Remote colleagues

Microsoft HoloLens remote Assist On-site at the location
Source: Microsoft

2 – Remote colleagues

Microsoft HoloLens Remote Assist Remote colleagues
Source: Microsoft

If required, another colleague can be connected to the same mixed reality remote session. Also, with this other remote colleague it does not matter where he is located – almost every device (PC, mobile device) can be used for such a session to help his colleague.

Which of the two scenarios has a greater added value and benefit for your company?

If scenario two is the scenario of choice, which I assume it is, you may wonder how complex the implementation will be. What are the costs for hardware, software, and project management? Depending on your existing IT infrastructure, at best all that is needed is the investment in mixed-reality glasses and employee training.

 

Inspiration for Further Application Scenarios

The scenario described is one of many where mixed reality can generate added value for your company. I would also like to inspire you with the following examples.

Mixed-Reality in Times of Skills Shortage

In times of skills shortage, mixed reality offers the possibility to support less experienced employees remotely by experienced colleagues (mixed reality assistance). This means that these valuable resources are not utilized longer than absolutely necessary, for example by preventing high levels of travel. At the same time, they can support their less experienced colleagues in the context of „on-the-job learning“. The result is an improved deployment of less qualified employees and thus an increase in efficiency.

Mixed Reality – A Simplified Approach with Office 365 Teams and the HoloLens

The lowest entrance level is for companies already using Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. All that is needed is the Microsoft HoloLens, which I will discuss in more detail in the next section.

The cooperation between Microsoft HoloLens is based on Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft Remote Assist software installed on HoloLens – that‘ s all. This interface gives HoloLens users access to all colleagues in the company using Teams anytime, anywhere. It does not matter whether they are using Teams on a laptop or another smart device. The advantages are obvious – having access to the know-how and support of colleagues throughout the company at any time and anywhere in the world. After all, who can predict which colleague might be needed in the future to solve a problem quickly and effectively!

Requirements:

Technological Differentiation of Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft HoloLens are mixed reality glasses. It allows the user to immerse himself in an interactive 3D projection of his immediate environment. Simply put, it is the fusion of the digital and the real world. For instance, wearers of these glasses can move virtual objects or start applications that they need in the respective environment. Interaction works by gesture or, if required, by a HoloLens clicker or motion controller. The HoloLens view does not require a connected computer but can be used independently as batteries, speakers, microphones, sensors, cameras, etc. are already integrated in the glasses. For all interested people who want to know more about the technical specifications: „HoloLens hardware details“.

Microsoft - HoloLense
Source: Microsoft – HoloLense

 

I was able to inspire you on the concept of mixed reality and you see concrete solution scenarios for this technology in your company?

If the answer is yes, feel free to contact me.

 

 

 

 

 


All information without guarantee, errors and changes reserved.


 

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