The Augmented Revolution with Microsoft HoloLens

By - March 23, 2022

Take a moment to picture your typical day, from personal life to work, and compare it to how much it has changed in the past year. For most, our days usually consist of the same day-to-day tasks and activities, but there has been one factor that we can all agree on that has been constantly evolving and changing overtime: technology. With each passing day, month, and year more and more inspiring innovators are continuously improving the cutting edge of technology to create tools and systems that are more efficient, effective, and even enjoyable. However, one piece of technology has certainly been making considerable waves in the past few years. The Microsoft HoloLens has been a device that has incorporated a myriad of awesome technology that enables the user to truly step into a whole new augmented world. The potential is seemingly limitless for applications within industries such as manufacturing, and it is extremely exciting to see where this technology will lead to. HoloLens, on top of Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Guides opens entirely new doors of opportunity for users across the globe.

At its core the Microsoft HoloLens is a mixed reality headset that projects virtual holograms within the user’s real-world environment. From these projections, people can grab and interact with various pieces of information that is right in front of them. Working on a complex piece of equipment? Pull up a schematic to have projected above you for easy access to information. Want to show someone what you’re working on? Hop on a Microsoft Teams call and use the built-in camera to give someone a first person view of what’s in front of you. Due to Microsoft constantly building out a business platform with applications that coincide with one another, the HoloLens has a wide number of integrations and applications with preexisting Microsoft Products. A great way to describe for people who haven’t seen it in action is to think of Iron Man; the scenes where Tony Stark is interacting holographic information with his hands is something akin to what the HoloLens can accomplish. Various forms of information that were once locked within a computer screen and now genuinely at your fingertips. What was once science-fiction is now becoming a reality. Below is a brief video that outlines a few of the benefits that the HoloLens brings to a company.

Companies from all types of industries are beginning to embark on their augmented reality journeys in hope to improve business processes and increase efficiency. As seen in the video, manufacturing companies such as Lockheed Martin, Toyota, Airbus, and Boeing are all adopting the HoloLens and improving productivity across the board. Activities such as training and design are fundamentally being changed right in front of our very eyes. No longer do people have to view 3D models within design software, you can see what you’re working on right in front of you in real time and interact seamlessly with the information.

A case study was done on several companies to examine the true effect that Microsoft HoloLens has on their businesses. Airbus, the largest Aerospace company in the world (Airbus displaces Boeing as aerospace’s biggest company | Analysis | Flight Global), has utilized the HoloLens within their design validation process and has cut that process’s time down by an astonishing 80%( Airbus reaches new heights with the help of Microsoft mixed reality technology | Transform). The costs that are saved by the utilization of the HoloLens is astronomical, and it is just the beginning of this new chapter of mixed reality technology. Remember in the beginning when I asked you to think back to how your life has changed in the past 10 years? With this technology being picked up and utilized by some of the world’s largest and most innovative companies, think of where we will be at in another 10 years. It is extremely exciting to see how bright the future seeing what this technology can do within only a few short years.

One area that should be of particular to interest to those in manufacturing is the incorporation of Remote Assist with HoloLens. Remote Assist is a tool that utilizes Dynamics 365 and HoloLens in order to deliver on an effective and efficient solution to aiding technicians preforming work and maintenance on site. In other words, Remote Assist allows a worker wearing a HoloLens to connect with a more experienced technician offsite in order to facilitate the task the on-site worker is preforming. For example, let’s say a worker is preforming maintenance on a tablet press machine at a pharmaceutical company but is running into issues and can’t seem to figure it out. While wearing the HoloLens, that worker is able to connect via Remote Assist with an experienced technician who is then able to view through the eyes of the on-site worker what is being worked on. Additionally, the offsite technician is able send relevant documents and information for the worker to see through the HoloLens and be projected into his physical environment. Also, if required the offsite technician can draw and create projections for the worker to see in order to further guide his work. This process is able to cut down on numerous costs and expenses; no longer does an experienced technician need to travel onsite to several locations, as now they are able to facilitate the process of that work via Remote Assist. However, sometimes it is better to have the worker’s onsite be properly trained and be prepared for any type of scenario that comes their way, and they need to be trained in the least amount of time possible for the lowest cost. With HoloLens, there is a solution for that utilizing Dynamics 365 Guides.

In my mind, this is one of the most interesting and exciting parts of what HoloLens is capable of. Dynamics 365 Guides is an application utilizing HoloLens that projects 3D models and images that, for lack of a better term, guide a user through a process and trains them to use a piece of physical equipment. Users can see instructions accompanied by different signifiers of information that walk them through step by step. Imagine you are a new engineer at an automotive company, and you are installing a component within an engine that you are unfamiliar with; by utilizing guides one can learn and explore a complex piece of equipment that has various instructions that not only show them what to do, but also explains the process in thorough detail, all within a mixed reality environment. Guides frees up manpower and manhours related to training and facilitates the process of someone learning a complex task or process and above all, allows them to go at their own pace. Too often will something be explained too quickly or too slowly and overall results in a poor experience for the end user, but with Guides a user is able to cater the information to their own personal needs and learn at the pace they know best. It truly is one of the most exciting components of this amazing technology and I am eager to see how people continue to adopt it. Lockheed Martin has been able to utilize HoloLens and Guides to layout information and instructions for their engineers within a mixed reality environment on their Orion project, and before a process that once took 8 hours to complete, only took a mere 45 minutes (How Microsoft’s HoloLens Increases Productivity – The Mobile Apps Man). To cut down a process by that much of a margin truly shows the true power and capability that the Microsoft HoloLens is able to provide.

The world we live in is an absolutely amazing place filled with wonder and opportunity. The innovation and creations that are occurring now as you read this are nothing short of awe-inspiring. The functionality surrounding HoloLens, Remote Assist, and Guides will continue to advance and progress to heights we have yet to see ever see within the world of technology. The capabilities will evolve and grow overtime to allow companies to truly change the way they conduct business and will have greater and more influential effects over time. This is only the beginning of what is to come, and the future is not bright, but absolutely radiant. I encourage those interested to read further into Microsoft Documentation in order to access more in-depth knowledge about the HoloLens, Remote Assist, and Guides and their true potential.

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