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How IT can prepare for VR, AR and MR in the enterprise

Jake Widman | Aug. 15, 2017
Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality tools are coming to the workplace sooner than you think. Is your IT department ready?

Davies explains how helpful the latter would be when assembling waveguides in a satellite panel. “They look just like bent pieces of tubing,” he says, “and it can take a while to figure out which way it goes and how it mates. If we use AR to show that in 3D and it’s basically registered and overlaid on the panel, it becomes really quick and easy to understand how to install it.”

The 3D model comes from the CAD files created by the programs used to design the products. “We would just export it or convert it into the right format,” Davies says. “Sometimes we already have digital 2D tech instructions that are showing the 3D model, so we could bring those into the AR scene as well.”

For the company’s IT department, one of the biggest concerns is with putting the new devices on the network. “We have very stringent security requirements for what we allow on our network,” Davies says, “so when new devices come out from vendors — headsets or whatever — if it’s not running our enterprise load of Windows, it can’t go on the network. Even if it is, it’ll probably still have to go through a review.” To that end, the IT department is adding staff familiar with mobile device management and wearables.

Davies emphasizes that Boeing is still in the pilot phase. “We haven’t done the ROI, and we don’t claim to have saved any time or money or anything like that,” he says. “The purpose was for us to learn and figure out how we’re going to implement these things on a larger scale. We’ve done analytical studies and analysis of user groups, and we know what we think we can expect in terms of efficiency improvements.”


Case Western Reserve University: Studying virtual bodies

Sue Workman, CIO at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), was not impressed with her initial experiences with virtual reality. “You put these glasses on, and the data comes to both of your eyes working separately rather than together. It was not very realistic, and it made you feel dizzy or even a little bit sick,” she recalls.

When Microsoft invited executives from Cleveland Clinic and CWRU to a demo of its HoloLens “mixed reality” devices in 2014, she expected more of the same. Instead, she came away excited for what HoloLens could do for her school’s curriculum.

“We’re building a health education campus with Cleveland Clinic,” she explains, a 485,000-square-foot building scheduled to open in 2019. “It will house our schools of medicine, nursing and dental medicine, including Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine.” The school didn’t want to include cadaver labs in the new building, so Workman had been looking for ways to teach anatomy without cadavers. The HoloLens MR technology projects 3D anatomic holograms into the room, where students can see them from all angles and interact with them, as shown in this video.


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