We live in times when technology is developing faster than ever before. We can adapt to the rapid occurrence of new challenges and demands of an increasingly digitalized society by using the latest and most advanced technology – technology that is considered change-provoking as it can significantly affect almost all areas of our daily lives and work. Owing to the latest technology, the future is becoming more 'tangible' today, and more flexible for the users. Not just in theory, but also hands-on, in practice.
Microsoft HoloLens at Gorenje Group
Gorenje Group is introducing the Microsoft HoloLens technology in R&D and IT. HoloLens enables a more advanced and more efficient product development in augmented reality. In this type of working environment, we can test the user experience of the new product in the making and develop it and customize it to perfection. This way we also shorten time, necessary to develop a new product, and reduce costs of making real samples.
Microsoft HoloLens goggles are made of specialized components, namely hardware, software and adapted applications, which together enable holographic computing. HPU or Holographic Processor Unit is based in the front part of the goggles. Simply put, HPU makes and replicates holographic images in AR in our actual surroundings. At the same time, HoloLens enables the user to move freely and interact with holograms.
AR = reality in which there is always a chance for a second try and another change
HoloLens uses AR by blending 3D objects into the physical reality. The main advantage of AR is that we can change, form, and interact with these 3D holograms because HoloLens goggles have cameras that follow the user’s movement and respond to it very well and very fast. We can say that the developer using the HoloLens already ‘holds’ the potential final design as AR enables designing, adapting, changing, and analyzing the constitution and design of a product that will eventually become a real product.
Imagine yourself standing in a R&D lab. Using the HoloLens goggles, you can design, change and choose what a new refrigerator model will look like, try adding different elements, search for the perfect interior layout, play with different shapes, colours, and dimensions, test more complex designs, and analyze them in each step and from all viewing points. Remote teams or colleagues can join the AR session and collaborate on the project. Meanwhile, holographic images that you can control and 'form' using hand gestures, gazes, vocal instructions in English, or using a wireless remote control, are replicated in your actual current environment.
Can we carry out an entire development project from an idea, production to the user by using the HoloLens? Certainly!
HoloLens enables faster and better cooperation of key departments and co-workers who can simultaneously collaborate and work on development of new products. Gorenje Group's digital business strategy also emphasizes closer – and with the help of HoloLens also better – interconnection and collaboration of key departments and teams in the entire (post)development process of a product.
HoloLens goggles in R&D:
- enable faster and more fluent cooperation of (remotely located) R&D experts, IT, designers, engineers etc. involved in the development of a new product, who can use AR to simultaneously brainstorm, develop, visualize, create and change designs in 3D, and test new ideas and more complex concepts;
- can reduce R&D costs for producing new prototypes that change all the time due to constant changes and adaptations during the development process;
- can reduce time needed to develop a new product etc.
In PRODUCTION, HoloLens:
- enables visualization and a look into proper construction and set-up of the product, which reduces the number of mistakes and setbacks in production;
- increases productivity and efficiency in the production process;
- increases environmental friendliness of the production process (less material waste).
HoloLens in SALES:
- enables users to personalize their future appliance and customize the interior layout and exterior design of the appliance;
- allows presenting a much wider array of different models, thus reducing the size of the display area or showroom;
- reduces the number of product samples and products used only for display purposes at showrooms and in stores, thus further reducing production costs.
In MARKETING, HoloLens:
- increases new users' satisfaction by providing a ‘look into’ proper installation, first use, presents the main advantages and shows how certain features that are otherwise hard to explain actually work;
- allows staying in touch with users and keeping the satisfaction levels up by providing useful tips and tricks for a more Life Simplified use.
For AFTER-SALES & SERVICES:
- step-by-step detection and removal of defects in AR leads to fewer calls to call centres for service repairs, and faster and easier service and removal of defects;
- HoloLens increases customer satisfaction;
- HoloLens simplifies buyer and user experience.
With so many benefits, there are bound to be some weaknesses. For now, most are related to hardware that needs minor improvements, and to the lack of experience with such a unique technology on the part of its users.
Matej Kebrič, 30-year-old industrial designer and mechanical engineer who works at the Gorenje Group R&D Competence Center in Velenje, Slovenia, is one of the first users of the HoloLens goggles at Gorenje Group and also one of the first to notice a few weaknesses in using HoloLens: "Limited field of view of the holographic image is definitely a drawback, because you have to stand far or close enough to the hologram to see it completely. And the goggles are quite heavy and uncomfortable if used for longer periods of time." To avoid ‘disappearing’ holograms, you simply have to get used to proper movement and positioning, which only requires some practice, he adds.
With a positive attitude, the right expertise and use of cutting-edge technology, Gorenje Group is taking decisive steps into a more digital future and a new reality that we can (re)form and change already today and over and over again, until we form and design the best possible and, ultimately, really tangible result.