To aid remote repairs, learning and other industrial applications.
The “metaverse” is a buzzword being dropped next to all sorts of industries but for the most part, they’ve been promoted as social/gaming spaces. Microsoft held its annual Build conference this week with CEO Satya Nadella discussing its far different vision, an “industrial metaverse” that’s welcomed Kawasaki into the fold.
Now, unlike most other metaverse platforms where you get to run around virtual environments, hanging up your avatar’s clothing every five minutes and enjoying social banter, Microsoft’s industrial metaverse is actually very different. This is essentially Kawasaki floor workers donning HoloLens 2 devices to see holographic representations of real robotics so they can solve any issues that arise with minimal downtime.
This process is called digital twinning, creating digital versions of real-world items and processes to aid learning or in the case of heavy industry; speeding up repairs, increasing production or starting a new manufacturing line. There are plenty of possibilities, so much so that Kawasaki now joins Heinz and Boeing as Microsoft industrial metaverse partners.
“That’s why I think you’re seeing a lot of energy in that space,” Jessica Hawk, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of mixed reality, told CNBC. “These are real world problems that these companies are dealing with … so having a technology solution that can help unblock the supply chain challenge, for example, is incredibly impactful.”
Microsoft isn’t purely interested in the industrial applications for connecting people using XR technology. Apart from owning Minecraft and AltspaceVR, Microsoft’s metaverse ambitions stretch across a range of products with Teams and Mesh highlighted during the conference.
“With the latest AI and Teams Rooms experiences, we’re dissolving the walls between digital and physical participation so people can present a PowerPoint together as though they were in the same location, even when they’re apart,” says Nadella. Mesh, on the other hand, is all about creation: “You can build your metaverse experiences on Mesh that are accessible from anywhere on any device, whether it’s HoloLens, VR headsets, phones, tablets or PCs.”