Mix up your business reality: learn how mixed reality and holograms are redefining modern business operations

4 mins to read

Find out how mixed reality is revolutionizing the modern workplace by improving communication, streamlining operations, and increasing productivity.

The mixed reality frontier

When you think of indispensable technologies for your business, what tools first comes to mind?

Artificial intelligence, chat-bots, anti-virus software, and CRM are just a few must haves in the age of digital transformation. One solution that is capturing the attention of future-first business leaders is mixed reality (MR).

Mixed reality combines all the best features of virtual and augmented reality and goes even further. Rather than submerse you in another world or force you to hold up your phone to experience digital effects, MR is the perfect integration of the two.

Using a head mounted display (HMD), you can effortlessly interact and control 3D objects and tools in the real world in front of you. It can sync with other smart devices giving unprecedented levels of communication and collaboration.

Immersive technology isn’t the usual approach when you think of upgrading your workplace. However, some enterprise technology companies are banking on their mixed reality headsets to revolutionize how businesses operate in the future. 

Inspiring new ways of working

Senior leaders constantly try to improve the way their workforce performs. On a human level, we seek out the best talent. On a machine level, we try to incorporate the latest tools. It’s clear that when people and technology work together in harmony, mundane and complex tasks can be carried out with greater efficiency. 

With mixed reality, businesses can easily focus on simple, practical, and quick value capture processes that deliver optimum results. For example, companies can:

  • Bring detailed 3D CAD models to life and take them from the screen to the physical factory floor
  • Transform basic procedures from static PDF manuals to step by step video tutorials
  • Hand-over control to experts as they provide visual cues and animated guidance in real-time

This isn’t pure hype. A recent study carried out by Boeing and Iowa State University reported a 30% reduction in assembly time using MR vs. 3D tablet instructions, and a 94% reduction in errors when using MR work instructions. Clearly, mixed reality technology means more productivity with fewer errors. The holy grail of workplace operations.

MR is a total game changer to how the modern workplace can function. Although it hasn’t reached levels of mass adoption, several companies have started to integrate MR into their everyday procedures with incredible results.

Visors on the rise

The biggest commitment to mixed reality is in the automotive industry with companies like Chevron, Ford and Volvo all enjoying the benefits Some of the more notable instances leverage Microsoft’s mixed reality headset, the Microsoft HoloLens. For instance, Toyota is using Microsoft’s HoloLens to improve the way it carries out service support. Something that normally takes an entire day to complete now takes 4 hours using MR. First line workers can even speed up measuring the thickness of a vehicle’s paint and rust-prevention coatings to ensure consistent color and avoid corrosion. Preparation and deployment happen instantly.

Chevron is leveraging other Microsoft apps like Remote Assist to allow workers and their superiors to collaborate and assist each other in real time. If an employee gets stuck with a complicated task and is unsure of how to solve the issue, they communicate via Skype and give control to the person on the other end of the line. This radically cuts down travel costs, reduces risk, and boosts efficiency.

In healthcare, doctors can perform life saving operations using an HMD to improve surgery procedures. The team at Imperial College in London has started to use HoloLens to map information from CT scans onto patient’s bodies to show the exact location of bones and blood vessels. This greatly reduces time and improves accuracy as they know exactly where to cut. In addition, this mixed reality peripheral has been instrumental in providing more in-depth and immersive training exercises, bringing procedures to life in the real world.   

Making the technology a reality

Mixed reality is quickly expanding across highly-interested markets but due to the continued unfamiliarity and price point of most, not all businesses are sold just yet.

The main goal is convincing business leaders that MR is a solid return on investment and how it can play a pivotal role in reshaping how the operate. In a bid to increase adoption, companies should consider renting or loaning the devices before purchase so that they can evaluate the features and benefits before committing to a long-term investment. This allows something that is almost too futuristic to become real, breaking down barriers and proving that MR can drive a digital transformation strategy.

A reality check

We’re only scratching the surface when it comes to the possibilities of MR technology. Whether it’s engaging with digital content, analyzing 3D designs in a 360-degree space, or fixing problems with the help of a guide, companies have deployed the tech in a variety of innovative and exciting new ways.

Once the cost of MR devices drop, mainstream applications get built, and case studies become more widespread, businesses will start to leverage the technology in even more areas of their daily operations.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen over night. Above all, people will need to learn the fundamental principles of navigating the mixed reality UI along with all the finger prompts, gestures, and commands. However, after seeing what is possible today, it’s only a matter of time until employees start carrying their HMDs into work and not their laptop.