Empired is tapping into the growing demand for immersive reality devices, building applications on top of Microsoft HoloLens for a range of industries across Australia.
Spanning mining, manufacturing and architecture, the Microsoft solutions provider is capitalising on market growth both locally and globally, creating new offerings for businesses nationwide in the process.
“The HoloLens is definitely what you would call emerging or disruptive technology,” Empired general manager of Western Australia, Stuart Strickland, said.
“It lets people work, collaborate and communicate in entirely new ways. By creating software that utilises the HoloLens, Empired is helping businesses innovate and compete in ways they haven’t been able to consider in the past.”
Because the HoloLens overlays holograms onto the user’s actual environment, Strickland said it creates a new way to interact with objects and designs.
For example, an engineer creating a new mine design can use the HoloLens to put a 3D model of the mine on the desk.
“They can then interact with that design, making changes that look real and provide instant feedback regarding their feasibility,” Strickland explained.
Meanwhile, the engineer can collaborate with others via a Skype screen placed somewhere else in their environment, removing the need for physical screens or keyboards.
“Being able to create virtual 3D models changes the face of industries like design, engineering and architecture,” Strickland added.
“Where, in the past, these professionals had to build a physical 3D model to truly visualise the workability of their designs, they can now do this in a fraction of the time - and at a tiny percentage of the cost - by using the HoloLens.
“Take mining for example. In the past, a mining company would have to build a 3D data cave to visualise mine designs to look for improvements. The cave would cost more than $1 million to build, before incorporating any of the other costs.
“By contrast, the HoloLens costs just a few thousand dollars and delivers an immersive experience. This lets companies move faster, making smarter decisions based on real-life scenarios without investing so significantly in the research and design process.”
Strickland said HoloLens - which is also offered across Australia and New Zealand by Datacom - is also well placed to utilise structural engineering applications to visualise the design and how changes may affect it.
“It is also excellent for training purposes, letting an experienced trainer provide step by step instructions in a way that’s almost as good as being there,” he added.
“However, the trainer doesn’t have to be there, they can train people wherever they are in the world without having to incur the expense and inconvenience of travel.”
For Strickland, this also lets companies save money on hiring additional trainers, since one trainer can conceivably work with many more trainees during the course of a single day just by using the HoloLens instead of being there in person.
Currently, Empired is developing a number of proofs of concept for organisations that are considering incorporating the HoloLens into internal operations.
“It’s as simple as loading a CAD drawing straight into the HoloLens and seeing - in real time - how it can be manipulated and improved,” Strickland added.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that the HoloLens will be a game-changer for many companies, and Empired is excited to work with those organisations to create the applications that will let them realise significant benefits.”
Globally speaking, revenues for the augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) market will grow from $5.2 billion in 2016 to more than $US162 billion in 2020, representing an increase of 181.3 per cent.
“For many years augmented and virtual reality were the stuff of science fiction,” IDC vice president of customer insights and analysis, Chris Chute, observed.
“Now with powerful smartphones powering inexpensive VR headsets, the consumer market is primed for new paid and user generated content-driven experiences.
“Recent developments in healthcare demonstrated the powerful impact augmented reality headsets can have at the industry level, and over the next five years we expect to see that promise become realised in other fields like education, logistics, and manufacturing.”
Looking ahead, the rise of new, less expensive hardware will put virtual and augmented reality technology within the grasp of a growing numbers of companies and individuals.
“But, as always, what people can do with that hardware will depend upon the applications and services that power it,” IDC vice president of devices & AR/VR, Tom Mainelli, added.
“In the coming years, we expect developers to create a wide range of new experiences for these devices that will fundamentally change the way many of us do work.”
According to Mainelli, sales of AR/VR hardware will generate more than 50 per cent of worldwide revenues up until 2020.
Furthermore, AR/VR software revenues will also get off to a quick start, growing more than 200 per cent year over year in 2016, but will quickly be overtaken by services revenues in the middle years of the forecast, as logistics and manufacturing demand enterprise-class support.
Revenues for VR systems, including viewers, software, consulting services and systems integration services, are forecast to be greater than AR-related revenues in 2016 and 2017, largely due to consumer uptake of games and paid content.
After 2017, AR revenues will surge ahead, hitting critical mass in healthcare delivery and product design and management-related use cases.
From a regional perspective, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan)(APeJ), the United States, and Western Europe will account for three quarters of worldwide AR/VR revenues.
“The three regions will generate comparable revenue amounts in 2016, but the United States is forecast to pull well ahead of the other two regions by 2020,” Mainelli added.
“Because AR/VR technology is still in the early stages of adoption, every region is expected to see annual growth of more than 100 per cent throughout the forecast period.”