Augmented reality: Holographic images enhance training, project work
Through the use of a holographic computer built into a headset, GGS Information Services Inc. is delivering training services to clients in Asia without ever leaving its Manchester Township headquarters.
GGS, which provides technical information services and database management to companies manufacturing cars, buses, airplanes and construction equipment, has begun offering technology – Microsoft HoloLens and HTC Vive – that has replaced a need for teams across the world to come to Pennsylvania for physical training.
While the technology is still in the early stages of development and use, one of GGS’ customers, a tractor-trailer manufacturer, has gone live with it.
Both Vive and HoloLens are used for training purposes and are funded by GGS customers, said Amirtharaj “Raj” Manoharan, vice president of global business development for GGS.
HoloLens is a mixed-reality system that allows a user to experience a virtual 3D model. It also gives experts the ability to draw on a screen and point to items of concern. By using these 3D models, GGS customers don’t need to invest in physical equipment for training or projects.
“It’s significant when you look at what you can do virtually,” Manoharan said.
Without this technology, he explained, manufacturers would require at least nine months to create a prototype. Once the prototype is created, it then needs to be developed, tested and validated. With this technology, there is no need for the physical product or to wait for an assembly line to create a product. And by not investing in creating a physical product, customers are saving time and money.
“This technology enables engineers to be more efficient and not have to wait months for a prototype. They can fix problems earlier and reduce opportunities for recall that usually occur during traditional cycles,” Manoharan said. “Instead of nine months, we’re looking at a matter of weeks to do it.”
The Vive, on the other hand, is a virtual-reality system that uses a headset and handheld control to immerse a user in a virtual situation, such as a shop floor. The simulation, for example, allows newcomers to work on equipment virtually before being thrown into the line of fire, Manoharan said.
“This kind of training allows them to better adapt in a real environment,” he said, noting that the technology also helps reduce accidents.
Though research and development of the technology have been ongoing over the last three years, its deployment is still relatively new. Case studies to translate the efficiency into cost savings aren’t yet available. Nonetheless, Manoharan anticipates that GGS customers will turn increasingly to HoloLens and Vive in the years ahead.
In addition to its headquarters, GGS has locations in Puerto Rico, India, Phillippines, Sweden, Japan and Greensboro, North Carolina. The company also has employees on site at customer locations in 18 U.S. states.
“As our CEO says, ‘the sun never sets at GGS.’ When one geographic region wraps up, another picks up,” Manoharan said.