Various large organisations have been rolling out VR applications in 2018, mainly for the purpose of trainings, collaborative planning and simulation, or design review. It is no secret that the emergence of standalone devices will enhance the distribution and adoption of VR even further, thanks to uncomplicated setups and inexpensive price tags. Although they feature full 6DoF tracking for head and controllers, these devices are equipped with less computation power. So how to leverage this potential and keep a consistent quality level of user experience and visual detail across devices? And what about the interoperability of (existing) content? Below we’re explaining why 5G and edge computing matters. We’re also sharing some insights from the work presented at MWC this week.
VR has proven its business benefits with large-scale roll-outs
This time last year, the Volkswagen Group was announcing a global rollout of VR Trainings to 10.000 employees, while factory planners were being equipped with VR tools to prototype the workplaces of the future, and transfer knowledge easily. The market has seen similar launches with Walmart and other brands. According to a study released by Superdata, a Nielsen company, enterprises used VR mostly for Training purposes (71%), Design & engineering (38%), Research & analysis (36%), and Showrooms & sales (35%).
Looking into the future, we see major transformations in the Automotive sector, where the manufacturing of electric cars forces production and logistics to redefine their processes. For instance, Volkswagen announced producing its brand new electric I.D. CROZZ in 8 locations across the globe by 2022. VR would undoubtedly enable faster design and ramp-up of operations and trainings in these locations. That’s because factory planners would simply be able to meet their colleagues in VR for so called “cardboard” workshops, to design and simulate realistic workplaces. Large 3D data pulled from engineers would be imported into VR, eliminating the need for expensive physical prototypes. The same data could further on be used for training purposes, enabling training of workers even before the physical plant is built or revamped. It is also worth mentioning that the “do-it-yourself” type of learning enables higher retention compared to other forms of learning (source: Dale’s cone of experience).
VR standalone headsets to enhance the adoption of VR by lowering the initial invest and complexity of deploying VR
2018 has also been the year of multiple announcements of VR standalone devices, notably of the HTC Vive Focus and Oculus Quest. How is this a scaling factor for VR? Well, the most obvious argument is price: while the starting price of a standalone device is around $200, previous generations with comparable performance would require an initial invest of at least $2.000, including a powerful gaming PC with strong rendering capability. Comparable performance here means at least a Field of View of 95° and 6 Degrees of Freedom, enabling end-users to have room-scale VR simulations, where they move and walk around as required by the context. VR’s most powerful benefit is, after all, the possibility to simulate tasks as if “on-the-job”.
Another argument facilitating the adoption of VR is that standalone devices are easier to use. On a technical level, the administrator of the VR station is only to charge the device and hand it to users, as opposed to plugging the headset to a PC, then calibrating it around specific sensors with specific set-up requirements. On an end-user level – say a worker performing a training – the device is simply lighter and also untethered. There is no wire connecting to a PC, so no risk to tangle up, nor is it required to wear a wireless adaptor. However, the mobility of standalone devices comes at a price: the computation power equipped on these devices is lower than on a gaming PC.
5G and edge-computing giving super-powers to standalone VR devices
Being able to render high-end 3D data for factory planning or training purposes is one of the most important requirement for, and also barrier to actual adoption of Standalone VR in the enterprise sector. The GPUs of standalone devices are significantly lower than those on PCs. This means that running existing applications designed for HTC Vive for instance, would need optimization works to reduce the rendering requirements. New applications would also demand a hard downsizing of existing 3D models (even more dramatic than required for PC-rendered VR), resulting in more porting efforts and lower level of detail in VR. So how to counteract this? 5G and edge computing offer the possibility to outsource the rendering from a standalone device to a virtual machine in the Cloud, while the 5G would enable fast transfer of data and low latency.
Experience CloudXR streaming with Innoactive at MWC 2019 in Barcelona
We teamed up with Deutsche Telekom, Detecon, QuarkVR, hubraum and MobiledgeX to enable streaming of the Innoactive Hub VR apps via 5G and edge remote rendering. The Innoactive Hub facilitates global management and deployment of VR applications, and is currently available for PC-rendered VR. Thus streaming the Hub on standalone devices would enable scalability for enterprises – by reaching a larger user-base internally, while spending less on hardware and benefiting from simplified operations. As the Innoactive Hub comprises an SDK as well, all streaming technicalities would become part of the SDK too – making all future content compatible with standalone devices by default. Thus the out-reach and power of VR would scale globally.
To learn more about our experience with 5G and edge computing, find us at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week, at the CloudXR booth part of GSMA’s Innovation City; together with QuarkVR, Deutsche Telekom and Detecon we are presenting the progress we have achieved together. Our Planning and Simulation app developed for Volkswagen is running on a Vive Focus and on a Vive Pro, showing the difference in the quality of graphics when cloud-computing is active.
We’re happy to welcome you there, stop by to see the latest advancements – Hall 4, Stand 4A30.
Innoactive Creator – Unity3D based authoring tool for VR training
Innoactive Portal – deploy VR training applications securely with your own branded portal