What if the metaverse was defined as the result of an ongoing convergence of the physical world and the Internet, powered by immersive technologies?
The reflections around the metaverse are often centered on the consumer who is offered to navigate in a world populated by avatars, with social interactions or commercial activities taking place in a 3D environment. This experience is made possible thanks to a virtual reality headset that connects the user to this futuristic world. In other words, we could define the metaverse as the result of a continuous convergence of the physical world and the Internet, powered by immersive technologies.
Can this method of interaction, however, revolutionize the way we work, beyond simple virtual meetings? The answer is no.
Even the most technically advanced processes used in industry require interaction with physical objects, be they machines, goods or other devices. Maintenance workers, for example, must physically interact to repair, move, or maintain various real-world objects. A system such as a virtual reality headset that somehow cuts the speaker off from the real world can be counterproductive. The industrial metaverse therefore requires other equipment to interconnect the worker’s physical and digital universes.
While the consumer-oriented metaverse has the sole effect of digitizing individuals and projecting them into a virtual universe, the industrial metaverse digitizes information and allows the worker to display relevant data or virtual objects in his field of vision, at the precise moment when he needs it. All this is made possible thanks to constant improvements in augmented reality and mixed reality devices, such as smart glasses from the American firm Vuzix and RealWear headsets. Mixed reality headsets such as Microsoft’s HoloLens, for example, not only display data, but also provide step-by-step production procedures or interactive 3D holograms that integrate with the real world without interfering with the vision of the speaker.
These devices thus allow interactions with the real world, while being connected to the digital world. However, it is the software that unlocks the full potential of the industrial metaverse for workers by enabling real-time data display from back-end systems, interactive and immersive training procedures for, for example, maintenance of a machine.
The use cases for the industrial metaverse are virtually limitless. Every task can be improved with hands-free access to relevant information, or made more efficient by reducing error rates, among other things. So many advantages that many sectors of activity can benefit from – assembly, administration and services, training or maintenance.
The industrial metaverse, the new reality
Technologically advanced companies are already using augmented or mixed reality systems to reduce error rates and improve training experiences in different areas throughout their value chain. The industrial metaverse therefore did not need to be presented, as Meta (ex-Facebook) had seen fit to do with the versions targeting the general public more specifically. If the industrial metaverse is already part of the daily life of a large number of companies, the market is already moving towards the increasing digitization of processes and the production chain, to allow the worker to be connected to the data necessary for all of them. ‘a process.
Building a motor vehicle, for example, requires training workers and technicians, providing adequate logistics management, assembling the various elements and ensuring quality control. So many successive phases and processes that can be improved by connecting employees to the industrial metaverse. Each worker can thus benefit from the data generated by his colleagues during the previous steps. The processes are then more efficient thanks to the data shared in real time; training and management can benefit from an evaluation of the data already collected through the various processes implemented.
A ROI and efficient innovation
Innovation requires profitable investments in time, money and human and material resources and the industrial metaverse already offers many advantages for companies. Above all, it helps to increase return on investment by reducing error rates and team training times, as well as the collection of parts or their assembly. Digitization ultimately reduces costs while speeding up processes.
While manager meetings, corporate communication and various administrative tasks have benefited from digitization for many years now, production teams or staff in charge of quality control still often have to use paper manuals. Enabling production teams to take advantage of the benefits of augmented and mixed reality is the best way to improve ergonomics, boost productivity and increase employee well-being in the workplace.