Did you ever have the chance to try on virtual reality goggles? You were probably startled at the beginning. Would you have thought how strongly we are impressed by simulated realities, how real everything feels? „Immersion“ is the term used here to describe this taking part of a completely different world. Most of us might know this effect in the context of computer games and amusement parks. Yet more and more application opportunities for enterprises are emerging and are promising added business value – „in real life“.

The Virtual Reality technology has been around for a decade. Due to the enhanced performance of today’s computer and smartphones in connection with the Cloud, it is currently blossoming into full bloom. An entire „Mixed Reality Continuum“ is unfolding: between „real reality“ with 0% immersion and Virtual Reality (VR) with 100 % immersion (a reality completely separate to the real environment) various subtypes of mixed realities arise (Mixed Reality, MR).

Were you impressed when Captain Kirk and Mr.Spock beamed themself from one place to another? Well, then you will be enthusiastic about the real hologram technology that is being developed, by which people can be at several places simultaneously in form of a virtual 3 D reproduction. We are talking about „Holographic Computing“, „Holograms“ and „Avatars“ and are already developing specific situations for example business models of the future.

What is Virtual and Mixed Reality?

Virtual Reality describes a computer-generated, interactive virtual environment usually created by means of data goggles (HMDs). Next to an absolute virtual reality with full user immersion into the virtual world, numerous steps of the so called Mixed Reality exist where our real and the virtual world collide. A total virtual reality is achieved by Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) such as Oculus Go or HTC Vive, Microsoft’s HoloLens are popular Mixed Reality goggles.

MR- and VR- technologies for every day

A new category of devices come into play in order to integrate MR- and VR-technologies into our daily life. We are essentially talking about different data goggle types, also called Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) such as the HoloLens of Microsoft, Facebook’s Oculus or different devices made by Samsung. What they all have in common is the trend towards becoming increasingly independent. Separate hardware and cable connections are slowly disappearing. Right now, several established and even upcoming suppliers are launching corresponding devices. In addition to Mixed Reality in form of numerous apps for smartphones and other mobile devices of the latest generation.

VR-applications in production and logistics

  • Up to now, so called „Cave Automatic Virtual Environments“, short CAVE, were used in industrial settings for example in order to immerse into 3 D worlds in the area of CAD constructions. CAVEs are real rooms with walls onto which films are projected. Today, this spacious technology is more and more replaced by VR apps and HMDs, significantly reducing costs and efforts. Another advantage of HMD is the option to have several people in one virtual CAVE at once.
  • Visualizations through HMDs can bring significant improvements in logistics, production and maintenance. With the relatively new method „Pick-by-Vision“, the picker is now able to see all currently required information directly on his head mounted device by means of WLAN technology. So called Remote Assistance Apps such as Microsofts Dynamics 365 Remote Assist do no longer require technicians to be on site. They can now operate their daily tasks such as monitoring and error identification and -elimination from their desk.
  • Virtual and Mixed Reality-technology helps to improve the utilization of 3D resources which are already available through CAD. Here, new applications are possible during the pre-production phase: architects and customers can virtually access planned buildings prior to the first groundbreaking, or enterprises can present their oversized equipment virtually on trade fairs.

Virtual realities are fascinating. But not just the fascination, also the range of application is enormous. Virtual and Mixed Reality offer possibilities which we are not yet able to fully grasp but which will soon have a significant impact on the economy. Let’s start into our virtual future now.

Gunter Teichmann
Department Manager Research and Development

Virtual Reality in the world of fashion: how avatars can change commerce

Social VR-platforms such as VRChat and Sansar enable users to move through virtual worlds by means of a tailor-made avatar. Avatars offer added value for retailers and are far more than entertaining gimmick: in online fashion shops, avatars can, for example, try on different clothings, so customers do not have to actually get out and squeeze themselves into fitting rooms. An avatar, exactly matching body measurements, provides more data for retailers than a tailor would need and offers the chance to reduce cost-intensive returns to a minimum.

At SALT Solutions we operate the hologram of a virtual mannequin that can present fashion outfits in VR and on the HoloLens. The same hologram turns into a virtual sales employee by applying chatbot-functionalities as well as voice identification and - synthesis. The technology behind it enables the design of electronic assistants and trainers of any type and can be used far beyond the fashion industry.

Generate added value with the combination of Virtual Reality and digital twins

In the meantime, digital twins of buildings, entire cities, events, products, enterprises, processes and services etc. were generated. One specific application of digital twins can be found within Building Information Modeling, which describes a method for optimized planning, realization and management of buildings. All relevant building data is digitally scaled, combined, recorded and geometrically realized in form of a virtual model. Since the digital twin exists long before the actual building, errors are identified early on and can be avoided during the real building process. In consideration of expensive and time-consuming misplannings of prominent major projects, it is very plausible to tap the potential of digital twins much more than today.

For industrial settings, the generation of digital twins in the context of IoT is becoming a core topic. Here, it is not just about an improved support of planning and go-live, but about a continuous improvement of all products and processes.

Within this field, applying Mixed Reality technologies is almost limitless. The virtual space offers designers to corporately develop their products or plant planners, building technicians and machine manufacturers can construct a virtual production plant together and monitor all corresponding building projects in cooperation with each other. As soon as the production plant is operating in the real world, users can move through the plant with Mixed Reality devices, select specific machines and access any other information from the virtual world.

At SALT Solutions, our claim is holistic. We are not interested in selling technical gimmicks. We analyze your demands and are on your side in each phase of the project from consulting to implementation and our 24/7 support based in Germany.

Would you like to dive deeper into this subject and get an overall, hands-on impression of all possibilities in VR for your industry? Please do not hesitate to contact me.

We will take care of your journey to digitalization.

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