You may not be ready to jump into the meta-verse for fun, but it may come faster than you think.
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that Kawasaki is a new customer for the technology giant’s so-called “industrial metaverse” – a fancy way of saying factory workers will wear HoloLens helmets to help with production, repairs and supply chain management. He will use the helmets to help build robots.
Launched for the first time in 2016, HoloLens allows the user to experience augmented reality, which overlays digital images in a real environment. For Microsoft’s industrial metavers, this 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 a “digital twin” of a workspace that can speed up processes such as repairs and starting up new production lines. For example, instead of calling a repairman to come to the factory to repair a damaged part, a HoloLens can be used to chat with employees on site and guide them through the repair process with visual signals of augmented reality. It also allows executives to use the digital twin to increase new production if needed – which Microsoft highlights as a way to combat supply chain problems.
Kawasaki joins Heinz, which recently announced that it will use Microsoft’s industrial metaverse in ketchup factories, and Boeing as production partners.
While this may sound like a gimmick, it’s something Microsoft customers have been asking for as buzz builds around the metaverse concept. Jessica Hawk, vice president of mixed reality at Microsoft, told CNBC in an interview last week that the industrial metavers are a taster of what technology can accomplish today before it is completely immersive in the future.
“That’s why I think you see a lot of energy in this space,” Hawk said. “These are real-world problems that these companies face … so having a technological solution that can help unlock the challenge of the supply chain, for example, has an incredible effect.”
Microsoft’s booming business speaks volumes about the state of the metaverse. Although we have heard promises of a sci-fi future where everyone works, plays and socializes in virtual reality, today’s applications have more to do with business-related apps than the needs of the average consumer.
For example, Meta’s upcoming mixed reality headset will be more expensive than its $ 299 virtual reality headset and will be marketed to people who want to feel “present” while working remotely. In fact, one of Meta’s first metaverse products was an app that lets you hold virtual reality meetings.
But the difference is that Microsoft is far ahead, and it actually sells its mixed reality technology to companies today, while giving developers the tools they need to create their own metaverse experiences.
“We really see a differentiation in how we run our strategy here, which recognizes that people are going to experience the metaverse on a variety of devices and platforms,” Hawk said.
This means that metaverse products also work on 2D screens, like the new features Microsoft added to its Teams chat app last year, where people can act as digital avatars. This kind of features can be translated to headsets and other platforms in the future.
“We’re really excited that this is a moment in time that unlocks so much innovation,” Hawk said. Some things we understand today. And we recognize many, many more things that we have not yet fully realized. So it’s a very exciting time for us. ”