This month we spent two days at AWE (Augmented World Expo) in our hometown Munich. The expo showcased a wide variety of different AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) products. We were excited to showcase our solution but also excited to see what AWE had to offer in terms of technology.
Presenting VR training in aviation with Vive Cosmos
This year we had a large booth in the expo area. We used the brand new HTC Vive Cosmos to demonstrate our VR training platform with example content from Munich Airport and Fraport. It was a first for us to demo the device at a fair. We were thrilled to see how well the tracking was working throughout the day, despite the crowded environment and the typical fair conditions. Everyone was very interested by the new controllers and appreciated the visual improvements, such as the clarity and vibrancy of the colours, HTC made to the headset.
Unveiled: Innoactive Creator
Beside the immersive demo, we also showed our newly launched Unity-based Innoactive Creator, opening the VR training creation to a whole new audience: instructional and learning designers, trainers, UX designers or 3D modellers. In addition, our booth visitors could also see our brand new interface for launching VR Trainings, making the deployment and usage of training apps much easier for trainers. Overall, we exhibited how our platform supports the transformation of trainings end-to-end: from creation, to deployment and usage.
VR Training Visionary roundtable
Because the diffusion of the technology feels slow to us, we believe that fostering a culture of sharing know-how is key to accelerate VR adoption. With this in mind, not only did we go on stage sharing the challenges of on-the-job training, but invited visionaries from enterprises to exchange about how to overcome adoption hurdles. Driving forces from companies such as DB Systel, AeroGround München, Lufthansa Technik, SBB, Fraport, Siemens, Linde, Airbus and TÜV SÜD were engaged in the discussion for a short two hours. We could have easily talked for days. The discussion was moderated by our partner Philip Wogart, from the VR/AR Association. Our partners from Unity and HTC Vive were also present listening attentively to what the participants had to say, just like we did. We will soon be sharing the learnings from the roundtable with all participants and also a broader audience. This roundtable was the first of many to come.
New XR solutions for enterprises
Similar to last year, we found a range of different AR and VR products and services. Many of them showed little progress compared to last year, which left us wanting more. However, we did find some things that caught our eye. We naturally started looking at devices relevant to our favourite topic: VR training. One of our first stops was haptic gloves. While these are popular amongst many, they still have some way to go. While both ManusVR and BeBop offer comfortable instrumented gloves, they need improvements regarding vibrational feedback, and advances to their tracking features were left to be desired for.
A stand-out at AWE was Varjo VR-1. Equivalent to the Vive Pro resolution, their HDMs combine two displays per eye. One covering the total image, the second providing ultra-high resolution while looking straight ahead. Therefore it is virtually impossible to detect resolution artefacts in the central region. This made for a really good visual experience. Reading the text as well as making out fine details is awesome! The resolution when looking straight ahead is slightly lower, but this was hardly ever an issue. With all that said, the VR-1 is one of the best HMDs we’ve tried to date. For us the main question remains – is this device suited for scaling VR Training in Enterprise?
Another remarkable product was FlyingShapes. If you are a fan of sketching you should try it out. FlyingShapes enables creation of CAD models in Virtual Reality. Users can create freeform surfaces in 3D by sweeping a line between your controllers. Afterwards users can modify these by moving, merging or extruding lines or control points of the resulting surfaces. In our opinion this was probably the best application at AWE. Even though the control-point-based shape modification is both lacking in precision, and the interface to control them is complex and non-intuitive, the sketching concept is nice and easy. Will this become a regular tool to use for sketching?
Overall we noticed one thing. There was an absence of standalone VR devices in the expo area, with very few to be found. This made the most popular devices HMDs HTC Vives and Indexes. We wondered why. Was it because it’s still too early to see productive use-cases running on these devices, or because of a general lack of appeal from enterprise? Our time at AWE has shown us that even though technology has come a long way, it still has some way to go. We are itching to see it take-off in the coming years, one use-case at a time. Virtual Reality Training first until “immersive” becomes the new “digital”.