The HoloLens augmented-reality headset which was launched by Microsoft about four years ago and was meant for retail customers and which was not as successful that the company had expected, is now being used by an unlikely set of customers – the car makers.
The car manufacturers are hopeful that the use of augmented-reality headsets would help them to enhance the quality of a variety of its business processes – from the designing of cars to their manufacturing as well as fixing any problems. And Toyota is in the forefront of that lot of customers of augmented reality. The speciality of these headsets is that it allows the merging of the real world around us with 3-D images.
There are other auto makers too in this set of firms. Ford’s Paccar, its heavy-duty truck maker, is making use of the HoloLens Paccar for designing purposes while it is intended ot be used by Daimler for training its mechanics while working with 3-D models of vehicles and parts like brake systems and the company has announced that it has purchased 100 headsets for this purpose.
But the size of the augmented-reality market is still small. More than 2 million headsets and smart glasses will be shipped this year, estimates Eric Abbruzzese, an augmented- and virtual-reality analyst with ABI Research. A majority of t\those will go to companies that are purchasing them for testing their usability, the number will grow to 29 million by 2023, Abbruzzese predicts.
Toyota is amongst the most recent examples of car makers making use of the technology. The technology is being used at the headquarters of the company in Japan’s Aichi prefecture for a variety of jobs. One of the uses that is currently being tested at the company is for the measurement the thickness of a car’s paint and rust-prevention coatings so that there is a consistency in color and to avoid corrosion.
Generally, this requires a day long effort by two employees to complete this process. But the use of HoloLens has reduced that time period to four hours. Additionally, only one person is needed to complete the job according to a desired satisfactory level.
Conventionally, specially-made paper patterns need to be carefully placed. The patterns have about 500 holes cut throughout and the patterns are placed on the exterior of a car. Then a measuring instrument is used by an employee to scan the visible paint.
But with the HoloLens, employees are able to skip the paper patterns and replace it with an app and make use of the AR headset to project a digital array of dots onto a real car which reveals the areas that are required to be tested.
“It’s as quick as wearing a HoloLens and seeing the measurement points virtually on the vehicle,” a manager of the company entrusted with the job said in a television interview. “Preparation time is, like, instant.”
The AR headset is also being used by Toyota to create full scale 3-D visuals of new machines and determine where those machines would fir on the factory floor. An dinorder to find out whether large vehicles can fit inside a building, the company is also using similar experiments.
However, there are adoption challenges still for HoloLens. Price is the first impediment because each headset costs between $3,000 and $5,000, where the price depends on the choice of a developer or enterprise version.
There has also been no upgrade for the hardware since it was first released two and half years ago. The weight, at 1.3 pounds, is also an impediment to fast adoption of the headset.
(Adapted form TechRealTime.com)