VR World 2017 will be taking place on the 16th and 17th of May at Olympia Conference Centre in London, and will see over 140 speakers discuss the impact of VR, AR and MR on enterprise. One of these speakers, Chris Freeman, is theme lead for Digital Manufacturing and technical lead for augmented reality at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). His research is focused on the medium to high TRL development and integration of AR, VR and wearable technology in respect of MRO, assembly and digitally connected environments.
Chris, who will be taking part in two panels at VR World – ‘How Can the Built Environment Integrate Immersive Technologies?’ and ‘How is Construction Going Digital?’ completed our VR World Speaker Q&A:
1. Please tell us a bit about the work you are doing in the VR/MR/AR space?
The AMRC with Boeing Factory 2050 digital manufacturing team recognises that the manufacturing environment of the future will be driven by a network of inter connected data systems all working towards delivering intelligent automation as part of the 4th industrial revolution (i4).
In this information rich environment, the collection, exploitation and reuse of data is critical in order to take maximise the knowledge you garner from it. Alongside enterprise IoT and informatics methodologies, mobile and augmented information are recognised by Factory 2050 as being central to UK PLC i4 manufacturing strategy. In line with just in time methodologies, augmented technologies can act as the conduit that enables operator, machine and system, to communicate more naturally. As part of a suite of advanced visualisation technologies, augmented and virtual reality technology can become the primary data delivery portals by which information can be delivered to the end user.
The AMRC with Boeing Factory 2050 digital manufacturing team is currently engaged in multiple advanced visualisation projects covering AR, VR, MR, mobile and wearable technologies. They have programmes running with organisations which range in size from local SME’s through to global OEM’s. Regardless of size, in every instance the primary directive is the same; work with industry to identify measurable value, and overcome the barriers to adoption, helping to de-risk an organisations first engagement with disruptive technology.
2. What benefits do you think immersive technologies can bring to your industry?
Advanced visualisation technologies offer step change opportunities in how information can be communicated to the end user. Virtual, and in particular augmented reality, can revolutionise this interaction. In a manufacturing sector which is facing massive skills shortages over the next 20 years, organisations are going to be required to produce more with fewer bodies, and technologies such as AR and VR will enable engineers to handle more information, make quicker decisions, thereby reducing the risk of mistakes.
3. Do you think enterprise is ready to take full advantage of immersive technologies? Why/ why not?
In respect of VR, the market is very much ready. The devices are now robust, affordable and with VR being a mature industry (industrial VR systems were developed in the 1980’s), there is a body of evidence out there which details both value and use cases. For AR and MR, much work is required in order for the enterprise sector to embrace this space. Notwithstanding the lack of enterprise ready devices, more evidence is required in order quantify both value and ROI around the technology
4. Which industry do you think will be most impacted by VR/AR/MR technologies?
In the first instance, this will be industries that are able to justify the lack of robustness against the value of the experience being delivered. Industries such as education, where audiences are traditionally less critical, and healthcare, where even the smallest perceived gains can have huge long term value, will most likely be the first to adopt on large scale.
5. How are partnerships contributing to growth in the immersive technology market?
At the AMRC with Boeing, the whole ethos is built around innovation and collaboration. By encouraging companies to work together, adoption can be accelerated as many organisations and sectors share similar challenges and barriers.
6. Are there any projects or applications of VR/AR/MR that you’ve seen that are particularly impressive and why?
The advanced visualisation developers at the AMRC will always try to work with off the shelf, robust technologies. Whilst they are engaged with all the major AR HMD providers, they also conduct a large body of work with projected technologies. It is a tried and tested technology which is in use and delivering value in industry now. The AMRC have integrated a number of systems for companies and metrics are available which detail quantified ROI. In respect of the wider visualisation space, there are plenty of applications that are impressive, particularly in the VR space, however too few are demonstrating true value. This is particularly prevalent in the AR arena whereby it is difficult to categorically state that many of the experience’s being demonstrated in the wider market are measurably more valuable than an equivalent experience that may have been delivered through something such as a tablet. At the AMRC, the problem statement is key. By working with the end user they ensure that the application being developed is focused on the use case, not the technology. Therefore when an advanced visualisation project is delivered, it is supported by a robust value proposition and business use case.
About VR World
Now in its 2nd year, VR World 2017 is a 2 day conference and exhibition focused on Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality and its impact beyond gaming.
With 4 in-depth event tracks and over 150 leading speakers, no other European event covers the market in as much detail.
Amid unparalleled networking opportunities, attendees will have access to visionary speakers and case-study led content. Hear from inspirational keynotes and thought-provoking panel discussions from key players redefining the boundaries for technology.
Register now to reserve your place for THE VR, AR and MR event of 2017.