August 14, 2018
How Extended Reality (XR) Fuels Industry X.0 Connected Worker
By: Jason Welsh

Extended Reality (XR), in the form of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications for digital workers, is happening now with IDC predicting $209 billion in XR spending by 2022.1 And it’s powering newfound efficiency and productivity in a variety of industrial environments, including airlines, manufacturing, oil and gas and automotive.

That was the core message to clients who attended a private workshop and invitation-only event hosted by Google and Upskill with sponsorship from Accenture Extended Reality (XR). Attendees heard real-world use cases of how companies like Boeing and Johnson & Johnson are currently using XR. They also learned what works (and doesn’t) when scaling XR solutions, and I’ll share the key takeaways below.

#ExtendedReality solutions & #AR-enabled workers are generating real value in manufacturing now. #IndustryX0


Industry shapeshifting

But first a closer look at just how fast the industrial market is evolving. Digital is reshaping how companies build, fix, move and operate goods with the rapid rise of Industry X.0. The current Industry 4.0 phase of cyber-physical production systems is powered by some massive stats: 23.4 billion connected devices in 20182 and 2.7 zettabytes of data.3

All this digitalization is changing the nature of work—for employees assembling airplanes, field service workers on oil and gas rigs, logistics and materials handlers in warehouses, engineers building prototypes, maintenance and repair technicians, and even scientists conducting R&D in the lab.

That’s where XR meets Industry X.0: leading companies are using AR delivered through smart glasses to help their industrial digital workers complete tasks faster and more efficiently. Think seeing step-by-step instructions in your field of vision while using your hands to complete a task with precision.

Other VR and AR options that can boost the bottom line include delivering new immersive learning experiences to train distributed workers rapidly, as well as offering innovative services such as over-the-shoulder coaching for quality control and maintenance.

Ahead of the game

Google, Upskill and Accenture have all been working to deliver XR-related solutions in the industrial space for the past five plus years. Google has been improving Glass for industrial and enterprise settings while partnering with Upskill to deliver these types of solutions. Boeing, which has invested in Upskill, was the featured speaker at the invitation-only event and described how the company uses XR in its airplane assembly processes for wire harnesses. (View video)

In sponsoring the event, Accenture XR (which also has a minority investment in Upskill) shared lessons learned from scaling XR pilot applications for various clients. This included things that are specific to XR that you might not necessarily think about, while also emphasizing the fundamental components that are the same for any type of business-led technology initiative, such as defining new business processes, designing proper architecture, addressing infrastructure issues and embedding program management.

But what’s unique is the human experience revolution happening with XR. Companies must understand the medium in terms of information and navigational design, and what will work best for industrial digital workers depending on the situation and tasks to be accomplished. They also need to consider how to convert, manage and update existing assets--production manuals, process workflows and CAD drawings—into 3D assets with the proper visual fidelity and polygon counts for use in the XR application.

Depending on how and where the XR solution is used, companies may also have to proactively address challenges around network and security, so it’s critical to have IT involved from the beginning.

Exciting prospects

Real value is being driven from XR solutions now—and the next generation of head-mounted displays and smart glasses looks particularly promising to help scale adoption in terms of form factor, battery life, manageability, security and device management.

To learn more about XR applications for connected digital workers in your enterprise, visit our Accenture Extended Reality site.

1 IDC Worldwide Spending Guide April 2018

2 Statista

3 Nodegraph

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