You may not be ready to jump into the metaverse to enjoy it, but it may come sooner than you think.
Microsoft on Tuesday announced that Kawasaki is a new customer for the tech giant’s so-called “industrial metaverse” — a fancy way of saying factory workers will be wearing HoloLens to help with production, repair and supply chain management. He will use helmets to help build robots.
First launched in 2016, HoloLens allows the wearer to experience augmented reality, which superimposes digital images onto a real environment. For Microsoft’s industrial metaverse, that means bringing together many of the company’s technologies, such as cloud computing, to help factory workers and managers create products faster and more efficiently.
The idea is to create what Microsoft calls the “digital twin” of the workspace, which can speed up processes such as repairs and start new manufacturing lines. For example, instead of calling a repair person to come to the factory to fix a broken part, HoloLens can be used to chat with site workers and guide them through the repair process using augmented reality visual cues. It also allows managers to use the digital twin to ramp up new production if needed – something Microsoft is promoting as a way to combat supply chain issues.
Kawasaki joins Heinz, which recently announced that it will use Microsoft’s industrial metaverse for its ketchup plants, and Boeing as manufacturing partners.
While it may seem like a gimmick, it’s something Microsoft customers have been demanding as buzz around the metaverse concept is emerging. Jessica Hawk, vice-présidente de la réalité mixte de Microsoft, a déclaré à CNBC dans une interview la semaine dernière que le métaverse industriel est un avant-goût de ce que la technologie peut ajourned immers au immer’ In the future.
“So I think you’re seeing a lot of energy in this space,” Hawke said. “These are the real-world problems that these companies face…so having a technical solution that can help solve supply chain challenges, for example, has an amazing effect.”
Microsoft’s burgeoning business says a lot about the state of the metaverse. While we’ve heard promises of a sci-fi future where everyone works, plays and socializes in virtual reality, today’s uses have more to do with work-related applications than with the needs of the average consumer.
For example, the upcoming Meta mixed reality headset will be more expensive than the $299 virtual reality headset and will be marketed to people who want to feel “present” while working remotely. In fact, one of the first metaverse metaverse products was an application that allows you to conduct virtual reality meetings.
But the difference is that Microsoft is getting ahead, and it’s actually selling its mixed reality technology to organizations today while giving developers the tools they need to create their own experiences.
“We really see a differentiation in how our strategy runs here that recognizes that people are going to test the metaverse on a variety of devices and platforms,” Hawke said.
This means metaverse products also run on 2D screens, like new features Microsoft added to its Teams chat app last year where people can appear as digital avatars. These kinds of features could be translated to headphones and other platforms in the future.
“We are really excited because this is a moment in time that opens up a lot of innovation,” Hawke said. Some things we understand today. And we are aware of many, many things that we still have to fully realize. So it’s a very exciting time for us.”