Before the pandemic, many manufacturers were already exploring augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) combining VR, AR, and physical environments. For example, VR modeling can enable engineers and technologists in multiple locations to collaborate on product designs or to workshop new product capabilities with customers. AR, VR, and MR can keep engineering collaborations and many other activities going when travel is not safe, too costly, or too disruptive. AR and MR also support many possible scenarios for training or supporting professionals at a job site, maybe with real-time assistance from an expert mentor at another location.
Standardized, robust devices like Microsoft HoloLens deliver AR and MR capabilities to anybody, anywhere, offering practical training and closing gaps in expertise when machinery poses unique challenges. Using MR this way may allow manufacturers to assign broadly trained technicians to work on their own or customers’ machinery, getting the work done sooner and without incurring the costs of in-depth, specialized training on certain tools or equipment types for the entire maintenance or services team. HoloLens can integrate with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the ERP system, so mobile service technicians can access technical documentation and customer information on the Dynamics platform.