We all know virtual reality. But what about mixed reality? Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 for businesses promises to transform the way in which you interact and collaborate with people, concepts and designs in the workplace by combining augmented reality with immersive technology.
HoloLens 2 is Microsoft’s latest development in virtual reality headsets. Using cloud computing, the device recognises the space around you, creating holograms that are locked to real-world objects, allowing you to manipulate and interact with them. They can be viewed by multiple users in different locations when all using the device.
Mixed reality technology has previously been associated with video games and recreational use, however, Microsoft is positioning this headset as a tool for businesses, to improve productivity and boost collaboration.
What can the HoloLens 2 do?
The device calibrates to your hands, meaning you can physically interact with the holographic world around you – including rotating, moving and even touching holograms. Using eye tracking, the device also allows you to scroll manuals and pages with your eyes - or use your voice to make commands.
It also offers a new way of collaborating. Team members in different locations can use a device, appearing as holographic people with the ability to interact with each other as if they were face-to-face.
What does this technology mean for businesses?
The use of technology in the workplace has largely been focused on developments in AI and automation which make human tasks more efficient, or even irrelevant. However, the HoloLens 2 is not intended to remove the need for people.
Instead, mixed reality can be used to improve how people work, learn and communicate.
Interaction with holographic content – Holographic representations of spaces and designs enable you to test out and view your designs, making temporary amendments to mechanical structures to test their reliability before changing the physical design.
Architects, engineers, designers and manufacturers will be able to view, interact with, and alter their 3D designs in real-time. PowerPoints, videos and concept art can be viewed on virtual walls that you can interact with and will revolutionise how designs feel in the real world.
Mixed reality meetings – Large companies will have designers, engineers, marketers and manufacturers spread all over the world. Arranging meetings is a huge challenge for collaborative working. Using holographic technology, such as HoloLens 2, team members will all be able to view the same content sat around the table, make amendments and give suggestions. This will reduce travel needs and travel costs, while allowing instant collaboration.
Remote working agents – Those that work out in the field will be able to connect with someone back at the office for assistance – who can see what they are seeing in real-time. They can provide assistance based on what the field worker is seeing. This could be invaluable for repair and maintenance workers, or if you are going to view a space that you need to show your team member.
Training and development – Live training can take place for employees in multiple locations – allowing you to demonstrate techniques, equipment or guide them through workspaces. Hands-on training will no longer require physical interaction, which will have a huge impact on business and process improvement.
On the job learning - Imagine performing intricate mechanical tasks in a complex industrial factory that requires you to flick back and forth to the training manual. Productivity slows down, you’re struggling to understand the wording on the manual, and your job is taking you much longer than it should.
Now imagine you can see and interact with real-time holograms that can show you exactly how to do the task – freeing up your hands to complete the job in front of you.
While overlaying virtual reality on top of a real physical environment is not new technology, using it in a business setting could certainly improve productivity. Mixed reality offers a very real solution to many problems within the technology, engineering and medical industries.
Space design and planning – Designers and architects can create holographic objects inside an empty space and walk around it, making alterations and creating design in real-time based on the 3D space. This technology can bring imagination to life in the creative process.
This is a huge step for enterprise technology. The HoloLens 2 offers an immersive experience with instant collaboration capabilities, which will only continue to improve as this technology develops. It will be interesting to see if mixed reality is adopted by vast numbers of businesses, and if so, what impact it will have on productivity.
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