In part 1 of our Immersive Tech for Enterprise post, we outlined the differences between AR, MR and VR and how understanding the differences can help you choose the right technology for your project. In this post, we’ll take it a step further with the most common use cases of immersive tech in today’s marketplace and real-world examples of impactful solutions Valorem has designed and built for customers. Let’s kick it off with some examples that highlight the best ways in which immersive technology is currently being deployed.
INTERACTIVE ADVERTISINGGone are the days of inanimate posters at bus stops and wine bottle labels. Today’s market leaders are focused on the customer experience, turning products into an opportunity to build an emotional connection with customers through visual storytelling. Platforms like WebAR enable organizations to build immersive experiences that turn motionless objects into entertaining and memorable interactions for customers, simply using the camera on their smartphone. Check out the example below of such an experience created by 8th Wall for Siduri Wines that turns a real-world bottle into a story about the winery direct from the founder.
E-COMMERCE SHOPPINGWhether it’s in a B2B or a B2C context, enabling your customer to visualize or interact with your product from anywhere, is a big advantage. From showing a customer how a shoe looks on their foot to how a particular piece of furniture will fit in their space, these interactive experiences add a level of transparency and trust that builds brand confidence like never before. In the example below, Nissan combatted pandemic restrictions to in-person shopping with an immersive car showroom experience that allows customers to explore vehicles inside and out from the safety of their homes using their phones. A great example of a human-centric solution that empowers both the customer and the business at the same time.
REMOTE ASSISTANCEHaving access to a subject matter expert regardless of geographic location is a highly advantageous use case already in place across industries and showing dramatic impacts on productivity, error reduction, and employee confidence. The example below shows how L'Oréal has deployed Microsoft’s Remote Assist in one of their manufacturing facilities, giving their frontline workers real-time access and interactive guidance from remote experts when they need it. This allows organizations to scale their highly skilled and often limited resources to support multiple locations regardless of their physical location. Talking employees on the manufacturing floor through necessary steps to evaluate and validate new equipment not only allows for real-time collaboration, but allows it in context to the work environment, making the instructions easy to follow. Hence reducing errors and building employee confidence.
TRAININGWith an ever-growing remote workforce, it has become imperative for companies to find ways to train employees that are more effective, engaging, and immersive. Using XR provides employees the opportunity to not only interact with the exact parts that they're training on, but it can also offer the social aspect of learning with their colleagues. On top of that, using immersive tech means that this training doesn't have to be one-dimensional. Trainers can leverage 3D assets, recorded video, or remote engagement with a subject matter expert to innovate training materials. Below is an example of such a use case with an app that Valorem has developed called Vesper. This app provides step-by-step instructions and a 3D digital twin in-app or in AR that front-line workers can use in place of traditional instruction materials. In addition to the obvious productivity benefits for the business, another important benefit is the impact XR solutions can have on the employee experience. It’s not only exciting for employees to be able to use modern technology in their jobs on a regular basis but also help develop skills with modern workplace tools.
HYBRID/REMOTE WORKFORCE With the increasing demand for remote work, companies are urgently seeking solutions that help reduce social fatigue among employees by creating the closest thing to in-person interactions- connected workplaces that allow for immersive collaboration using XR. In the example below, Spatial offers a remote work collaboration solution where everyone can meet in VR using a headset or webcam. Real-time 3D asset manipulation enhances the feeling of a cohesive collaboration space.
4 Steps to Implementing XR in Your Business
So how do you build an environment where immersive solutions can thrive and have the most impact?
- Align Stakeholders Across the Organization- First, knowing that there is leadership support across the business will help establish a more sustainable digital transformation strategy that is resistant to change from those critical to the success of your initiative(s). It is necessary to set up and grow partnerships with a diverse cross-section of stakeholders to create this kind of support.
- What You Want Might Not Align with What You Need- It is essential to define clearly and precisely what you are trying to achieve through your immersive imitative(s). Too many goals can make it hard to stay in budget and on target. Unclear goals can make it hard to measure the success and impact of your effort and investment. Change doesn't have to be monumental. It can be small, measured steps, that focus on one thing at a time, for example, cost cutting, which will add up over time. When defining your project goals, consider where your company is right now in context to where you would like to be.
- Pain Points and Opportunities- Work with stakeholders and experts to understand what opportunities are best addressed with immersive technology. Figure out where the most significant pain points are in the current processes. Where are the existing solutions lacking, and how can immersive tech help alleviate those issues? Not all problems will need or can be addressed using immersive technology, so avoid over-engineering your immersive solutions to ensure success.
- Define Outcomes- Define success in a way that is most relevant to your business. What are the key metrics that will indicate success to your stakeholders and leadership? What is the target goal? For example, reduction in waste material, time saved per employee, etc. Have clear definitions of success that will help keep your project and budget within scope while ensuring the most valuable returns on your investments.
- Iterative Approach- As mentioned earlier, change doesn't have to be monumental, go with an iterative approach. Build a minimal viable product (MVP) that will allow you to experiment in a small-scale pilot to access potential value with minimal risk. Once the value has been proven, scale the solution in a way that would make the most sense while considering the existing ecosystem of apps and IT infrastructure.
Case studies Lastly, I’d like to spotlight three compelling use cases currently deployed for each platform - AR, MR, and VR, respectively.
Walmart – Augmented Reality (AR) App
The retail giant recently unveiled their new AR enabled app that functions on top of their existing inventory tracking system and helps automate the process of locating and restocking inventory for employees in the back room. Employees receive notifications directly in the app when an item on the shelf is low in stock or a certain amount of an item has been scanned at checkout. Using the camera on the phone, when pointed at a wall of inventory, the app will show them the exact box they're looking for.
Impact of Walmart’s AR Restocking App:
- Reduced time to locate restocking items from 2.5 mins to about 42 seconds.
- Eliminated paper lists.
- Automated the most significant part of floor employee workflows.
Why Mobile AR was the Best Choice for Walmart:
The biggest benefit here, is in using mobile is that a phone is something an employee always has on them. They can log in as soon as their shift begins, they have all the information at their fingertips. It’s a solution that is easily portable, and also, more importantly, there is no learning curve for the employees, it’s something they can pick up intuitively. The app augments the employee’s work environment, providing contextual relevant information, when and where they need it, helping automate something that would otherwise have taken longer.
Lockheed Martin – Mixed Reality (MR) App
Lockheed Martin deployed the use of MR technology to assemble the crew seat on NASA’s Orion spacecraft, designed to be the first of its kind with the technology to support extremely deep space exploration. Using the HoloLens 2 and a custom MR app, technicians can work faster in final assembly with immersive instructions that are contextual and anchored to their environment. Using the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) decision making process, the first three steps took workers, on average, 51% of the assembly time. Implementing their MR solution, Lockheed Martin was able to reduce time for each stage by up to 99% allowing for an almost immediate move to assembly. Technicians can also view virtual screens to see alerts, notes and progress all while hands free to manage the project more efficiently and effectively.
Impact of Lockheed Martin’s MR Assembly App:
- Labor Reduction- 8-hour activity reduced to 45 mins
- Assembly Cost Reduction- $38 per unit savings across two million units
- Error Reduction - Automating manual processes and identifying where parts should be placed for assembly, workers could build with confidence and accuracy without increasing planning cycles.
- Time to Market Reduction- Accelerated assembly allowed teams to move more quickly from concept to design to tests and operations.
Why Mobile MR Was the Best Choice for Lockheed Martin:
Using the MR device and app allowed assembly workers to access instructions in context while handsfree. This turned what was once a long, tedious process into something much more enjoyable for employees.
Suffolk Construction – Virtual Reality (VR) App
Boston-based construction company partnered with a VR startup to help reduce the number of RIFs (request for information) throughout the construction process that can slow down productivity. Using VR headsets, Suffolk employees can meet with clients and project teams virtually to coordinate, plan and resolve issues using digital visualizations and 3D assets. Regardless of where team members are geographically located, VR technology enables Suffolk teams and clients to collaborate in real-time for maximum efficiency and faster resolution times.
Impact of Suffolk Construction’s VR App:
- More effectively uncovered design inefficiencies and conflicts before building begins
- Optimized workflows and real-time decision-making accelerated production process without, sacrificing team member expertise.
Why Mobile VR was the Best Choice for Suffolk Construction:
Full VR immersion allows clients and teams to view a 3D, life-sized model of their project from anywhere. This improves the customer experience and enables more flexibility for changes along the way while reducing travel expenses.
Next StepsIs immersive technology the right fit for your business and is it realistic to achieve?
When applied in the right context, immersive technology can be an immensely powerful tool. As mentioned in part 1, it is important to understand all the differences that set each of the technologies apart and what their strengths are, so that they can be applied in the best context. Additionally, it’s important to understand your business outcome goals to build solutions that can withstand organizational change and achieve sustainable return on investment.
If you’d like help identifying immersive opportunities in your business or would like to learn more about immersive solutions in your industry, Valorem offers free 90-minut consultations with our Digital Strategy and Immersive experts to understand your needs and environment and recommend next steps for achieving digital transformation through immersive technology. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free consultation today!