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Immersive tech – transforming the workplace

Immersive technology, namely VR, AR and Mixed Reality, is undoubtedly driving innovation across a broad spectrum of industries.

I recently tuned into a webinar hosted by VR Intelligence to learn how different industries have integrated this tech into their business, as both an organisational tool – to enhance how teams work together and with clients – and as a means to transform their product or service.

The discussion was moderated by Amy Peck, Founder & CEO of EndeavorVR, and featured Ford’s VR & Advanced Visualization Tech Specialist, Elizabeth Baron. As well as Scott Aldridge, Innovation & Disruptive Technology Leader of CDM Smith and Michael Fallon, Director, Digital Business Design, Schneider Electric.

Image source: VR Intelligence

The Top 5 things I learnt about Immersive Tech:

  1. It’s helping to streamline communications between teams in organisations
  2. When starting a project, first ask yourself where can the tech add value? A relevant use case is key! 
  3. Take advantage of existing solutions and tailor them to your needs
  4. It’s a great tool for education, and for training new workforces
  5. Immersive tech experiences need to be realistic to reap the greatest benefits

An organisational tool

Elizabeth Baron, explained how they’re using immersive tech as a tool for communication between different groups in different disciplines. For example, allowing an artist and scientist to communicate and collaborate on the look and performance of a vehicle in tandem.

As for Schneider Electric, they’re implementing the technology to make the lives of their customers easier and more productive. Michael Fallon described how AR, from eye-wear to hands-free devices, is helping to simplify procedures and services, such as the maintenance of equipment in complex systems.

Image Source: VR Intelligence, Ford at the Auto Show 2017

Beginning a project using Immersive Tech

A frequent concern for many business professionals is how to frame their business case to get a project off the ground? CDM Smith are early innovators in mixed reality, so when Microsoft announced the HoloLens they were already experimenting with different glasses, but experiencing the HoloLens was a “game changer”. With R&D funds, they storyboarded ways to use the device to find an appropriate use case.

For Schneider Electric it was a question of, where can the tech add value? Michael said finding the right problem to solve was the priority, so they could then apply the technology. For Ford, Elizabeth highlighted that the scalability of the solution was fundamental for the implementation of the tech. Spending a considerable amount of time and investment in its infrastructure has meant their platform now runs like clockwork.

Feedback & Engagement

Immersive tech is beneficial in providing feedback on a project. Scott described how it engages stakeholders in a more immersive way i.e. when designing something in a 3D fly-through, they can obtain immediate and accurate feedback from the client, who is able to experience it for themselves. Similarly, Ford can apply their manufacturing ability within their platform without having to build the vehicle; modifying and exporting the data back to the engineering and design teams for further analysis before production.

For many problems and issues, existing solutions and platforms exist in some form or another, therefore as opposed to building bespoke solutions, the speakers were in agreement that collaboration was intrinsic to their project’s success. Augmenting their way of working onto existing solutions, and collaborating with third-party experts and global partners, has provided a foundation to get their projects off the ground quickly.

An Educational & Training tool

Mixed reality has allowed these companies to tap into the experience of their existing workforce to educate the new workforce. Scott referenced how many of their workforce are retiring, taking their knowledge with them, therefore ‘remote expert modes’ are where they see the most benefit for the clients that they serve. And at Ford, they’re diligent about making these experiences as close to the real thing as possible, with little to no learning curve, making it more likely for trainees to connect with it and thus benefit from the training.

It’s clear the technology is impacting many global companies, streamlining what were once complicated processes. So as the technology evolves, becoming more affordable, more tactile, and thus more accessible, we will certainly expect to see even more companies adopting this technology in years to come.

Becky Perry, Marketing Manager