Virtual Reality is changing the resource industry. With tech giants like Facebook, google, apple and Microsoft leaping on VR & AR, the industry and technology have evolved, from just a gimmick in its infancy to becoming a beneficial technology for other industries as it matured. Both terms VR & AR have even been combined into what is now known as Extended Reality(XR) or Mixed Reality. This Term was coined by Microsoft when they released the HoloLens back in 2016.
So why does VR, AR & XR matter and why is it such a beneficial innovation for the Mining & Engineering sectors?
Let’s start with engineering. With the obvious changes in the workplace over the recent year collaboration, travel and multi-company projects have been delayed or put on hold altogether, and as the future remains unclear, new innovations come into play to bring back productivity to the workplace. We still need to collaborate and meet deadlines wherever we are. Microsoft is leading innovation in the XR space with recent announcements at the Ignite conference around their new Mesh platform, “Here can be anywhere”.
Mesh allows for collaboration in an immersive virtual form from anywhere in the world. Say you have a team of engineers working on a modification to some mining machinery and their goal is to make the machinery more robust for the specific mining environments within far north Queensland. The team is local, 20% of them working from home and they have reached a roadblock and need to bring in an engineer with more experience with parts of the OEMs systems and they are located in Sydney. Mesh allows for the office team, the work from home team and the engineer from Sydney to collaborate in one space via HoloLens’. With Mesh, teams can interactively manipulate 3D objects that you can add yourself. In this case the office team has put the part in question into Mesh, the work from home team and the guest engineer has joined and are displayed via 3D virtual avatars. Suddenly it’s as if you are all there, all be it with a few uncanny virtual faces. Now your team have put together a solution and there has been minimal extra spending.
Microsoft Mechanics actually released a demonstration on the “collaborative mixed reality experiences” Which shows how it works.
Microsoft Mesh isn’t restricted to just the design and engineering section of the company, it can also benefit the training process, meetings and other similar processes that require collaboration and with obvious cost reduction benefits and the technology itself maturing past the point of novelty XR are the future for the resource industry.