The global augmented and virtual reality market is expected to reach USD 151 Billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 70.41% during the forecast period.
Modern AR and VR applications extend far beyond personal and consumer sectors. They are revolutionizing new markets, offering a growing number of impressive use cases in enterprise settings. Businesses operating in industries such as discrete manufacturing and retail spend more than $1.0 billion on augmented and virtual reality solutions. They leverage immersive technologies to automate design and manufacturing processes, reduce production costs, troubleshoot emerging issues, and much more. With this in mind, we’ve comprised a list of the most powerful applications of virtual and augmented reality in enterprise setting backed up by real-world examples.
1.Augmented and Virtual Reality Solutions for Inventory Management
Businesses operating in manufacturing and logistics can greatly benefit from AR/VR solutions that streamline workflow and provide hands-free access to information. Smart glasses or head-mounted displays are now being used for inventory management to overlay instructions over a worker’s field of view such as maps, system information, or real-time feedback. This simplifies the completion of various manual tasks, such as maintenance and repair at the factories and warehouses.
For instance, international shipping and logistics company DHL launched an augmented reality program to maximize the efficiency of its warehouses. By using Google Glass and other head-mounted displays, the workers receive navigation help which sends them directly to the correct aisle and shelf for their assigned packages. This AR solution resulted in more efficient and faster performance with fewer errors than ever before.
Moreover, manufacturing equipment developer Gabler has incorporated virtual reality to recreate the manufacturing lines. With the help of VR, designers at Gabler can locate potential safety hazards before the product reaches the client facility, or even before it is built. Additionally, they can explore and interact with a piece of equipment by sending a virtual mannequin through the workflow. This allows them to see where costly or dangerous mistakes might occur due to the line design. The integration of VR into Gabler’s business processes resulted in a 15% reduction of development time and increased safety and collaboration quality.
DHL enabling Vision Picking with Augmented Reality
2. Remote Maintenance and Collaboration with AR/VR Technologies
Some of modern AR/VR applications also offer the ability to remotely collaborate, instruct colleagues and troubleshoot arising issues. These remote maintenance and collaboration applications are widely used in sectors such as aerospace, manufacturing, and oil & gas. They reduce the time spent on accessing and cross-checking data thus increasing worker productivity and accuracy.
On the whole, VR/AR applications for remote collaboration can be divided into 4 categories:
- Materials handling. These VR solutions are mostly used by warehouse workers to read the barcodes on containers of supplies inventory boxes and provide content details and destination/origin information.
- Remote maintenance. These Virtual Reality solutions relay a live image of a part that needs to be fixed to a remote worker who supplies relevant data, instructions, or images that could serve as a real-time repair manual.
- Augmented assembly. VR is used by assembly workers to track complicated processes and ensure all parts are assembled in the right place and sequence. Thus this reduces downtime of consulting a clipboard, manual, or tablet.
- Remote inspection. VR/AR technology is applied by parts inspectors to take a photo of an asset that needs to be modified. Then they relay those data to the appropriate co-worker in real-time.
Remote collaboration, maintenance and inspection techniques offered by AR/VR can reduce the risk of error or injury at work. Therefore, these VR solutions are developed to perform remote maintenance and inspection of dangerous fields like chemical factories or hardly accessible machines like rotors of wind turbines.
For instance, Boeing engineers decreased their wiring production time by 25% after replacing assembly manuals with smart glasses displays. Whereas General Electric is testing an augmented reality helmet that enables technicians at natural gas plants to view instructions and receive remote assistance while performing maintenance tasks.
GE changing the way they monitor machines with Augmented Reality
3. Virtual Reality Solutions for Facility Emulation
VR enables enterprises to benefit from end-to-end visual emulation of real-world systems. This powerful technology can be used for creating simulations of warehouse automation robots and other systems, enabling efficient testing and product demonstrations.
For instance, Dematic has created a VR-based platform for facility emulation. This platform allows to test and validate the facility in real-time long before the physical facility is built. It can mimic real-world variations of operations such as equipment failure or unplanned operation breaks.
Additionally, users can take advantage of the platform configurability to evaluate and navigate the daily functions of the facility. With VR, the user can teleport from location to location and experience things not possible in the real world like the functioning model of the facility in the control room. Thus VR acts as a powerful tool allowing to visually convey and test operation processes at an airport, a factory, a warehouse, etc.
Showcasing the capabilities of Dematic VR-based Facility Emulation Platform
4. Real-time Data Visualisation
As the amount of data companies collect grows, enterprises require increasingly complex and detailed methods of data presentation. In this respect, VR enables real-time data visualization with easier pattern recognition in big data sets and more intuitive data understanding. Unlike conventional data visualization models, virtual reality allows the users to walk around and look at the data from multiple angles. Researchers found that users who interacted with the data through VR reported better retention of perceived relationships within the data in comparison to two dimensional data visualization tools.
For instance, Virtualitics recently launched its VR-based product that places researcher directly into the data. It also utilizes machine learning to help analysts determine which factors will provide the best possible mapping and create a multidimensional data representation. This VR solution also allows other colleagues to meet inside the same virtual space and collaborate on the data analysis in real time.
Virtualitics merging Virtual/Augmented Reality, Big Data, and AI to Visualize data
5. Virtual Design in Vehicle Manufacturing
By leveraging VR technology, car manufacturers can now greatly reduce production time and costs by replacing physical mock-ups with virtual prototypes. Getting up close to a life-size 3D vehicle model makes it easier to spot critical issues before expensive and time-consuming physical mock-ups are produced. Moreover, virtual reality allows having multidisciplinary teams spread across the world, working on the same prototype simultaneously.
For instance, one of the world’s leading car manufacturers Ford has created a Virtual Reality Lab. It enables the engineers to quickly and easily improve the quality of early concepts by virtually projecting new car designs. With the help of VR, Ford manufacturing crew is now able to design cars before creating a physical prototype. This speeds up time to market and reduces manufacturing expenses.
Ford demonstrating virtual prototyping in Immersive Vehicle Environment
6. Immersive Training in Virtual Environments
Enterprise VR solutions are also widely applied for educational and training purposes. These include various therapies and immersive treatments which help patients to cope with conditions such as PTSD, manage their pain, and engage in rehabilitation.
Additionally, VR can be used for creating immersive training simulations for professional athletes. For instance, N-iX VR Studio has worked on the creation of Sports VTS, a VR simulation for training professional quarterbacks. Based on the data about NFL players, the solution tracks the player’s movements and analyzes his performance in real-time. This enables a quarterback improve his playing ability by mastering various techniques within a controlled environment.
Moreover, VR-based applications allow enterprises to train their staff at lower cost and reduced risk. For instance, Japan Airlines were one of the pioneering companies to use HoloLens headset for training co-pilots and engine mechanics in a virtual cockpit. Therefore, instead of using videos and printouts of cockpit panel instruments and switches, the flight crew can experience it from the inside. Whereas engine mechanics are able to study and train as if they were working on the actual engine or cockpit instead of reading the manuals.
Japan Airlines using HoloLens for training mechanics and engineers
All in all, possibilities offered by VR & AR are huge. From medical to industrial applications, augmented and virtual reality solutions are pushing the boundaries and impacting businesses across numerous sectors. A broad range of enterprises leverage these transformative technologies for inventory management, warehouse logistics, remote guidance & collaboration, safety training, and much more. This results in efficient communication across various production channels, streamlined workflow, and improved decision-making.