12 ways companies are already using the Metaverse in 2022
Discover the endless possibilities of the Metaverse and Extended Reality (XR)
Discover the endless possibilities of the Metaverse and Extended Reality (XR)
Extended Reality, often shortened to just XR, is used to describe technologies that blend the real world with the virtual. According to Sune Wolff, Chief Technology Officer at SynergyXR, XR should be seen as an umbrella term that encompasses Augmented Reality (AR) , Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
Although there’s a great deal of overlap between the different technologies, XR is best viewed on a spectrum with VR comprising the most immersive of the technologies while AR uses technology to enhance real-world objects and environments. The concept of XR is often used synonymously with that of the Metaverse.
Extended Reality is a nascent but rapidly evolving technology. Read any article and you’ll likely be bombarded with figures about how much the industry is expected to grow. In truth, the XR industry is changing so fast that it’s hard to predict the extent of this. However, the most recent estimate by Citi estimates that the market for the Metaverse economy could reach between $8 trillion and $13 trillion by 2030. When it comes to physical devices, in 2021 the market for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality headsets grew by 92%.
Therefore, it’s only natural that the amount of people expected to interact with the Metaverse is also forecast to grow substantially, and that the time spent in the Metaverse will increase. The consultancy firm Gartner estimates that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse.
As this article will demonstrate, part of the explanation for this massive growth is the versatility of XR and the sheer number of industries it can apply itself to. It’s easier than you think to get started, and as the technology matures, the prices will become more affordable. Let’s look at 12 use cases that are already in action in 2022.
Almost overnight, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the status quo of how companies went about their day-to-day business. For Sanovo, a producer of egg processing machinery, the restrictions on international travel required the company to rethink how it carried out maintenance of its equipment around the globe.
Using the Microsoft HoloLens device, SynergyXR developed an easy-to-use platform where technicians simply place their HoloLens on, and the support technician is able to provide remote support wherever they are in the world. By using this solution, Sanovo has been able to reduce the time taken to repair their machines from two days to just a few hours.
Yet, even as international travel slowly starts to recover to pre-pandemic levels, many companies are sticking with remote support solutions due to their economic, environmental, and timesaving advantages.
Working with machinery often demands specialist training that in many cases requires specific certification before using unsupervised. Adding to this, certain machinery is often dangerous to use, as well as expensive to replace in case of damages.
The world’s largest pump manufacturer Grundfos is using VR to conduct production training. Here, employees use a Virtual Reality headset to see the product in a life-like operational environment. Grundfos uses several different applications where employees train with digital twins of physical installations of machines. With interactive guidance throughout the training, this can also be altered depending on the needs of the employee.
The success of this is collaboration is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that the training time has been reduced from 6 weeks to just 4 days.
Sune describes how by using VR, employees can repeat the training as many times as they need, accounting for a sort of training that is “on the job” but without the risks associated with this. Therefore, using VR for training has the potential to reduce injuries in the workplace, as well as prevent the need to replace costly equipment.
XR is not just a training tool for the warehouse or factory floor. Increasingly, XR is being used as a tool to develop soft skills. For example, the company Mursion has developed a whole range of soft skills training programs ranging from leadership training to mental health awareness.
Similar examples include the company Equal Reality which has developed Virtual Reality programs aimed at diversity training while Virtual Speech offers courses such as public speaking and leadership communication. Thomas Fenger, the Chief Experience Officer at SynergyXR, describes how using XR is an effective tool to develop soft skills, and is so immersive and realistic that it’s an effective substitute for real world training.
The modern labor market is increasingly flexible, with employees increasingly likely to change jobs and change career paths altogether. This creates challenges for employers as they attempt to get new employees up-to-speed as soon as possible. Furthermore, in a globalized, post-pandemic world, where remote working has become the norm for many companies, companies are forced to train employees online.
SynergyXR has partnered with Grundfos to develop remote onboarding programs for new employees. Here, employees will be able to quickly see how the company’s products work. Not to mention, this will also greatly reducing travel and labor costs by thousands of dollars.
A recent study by PwC has demonstrated the power of using VR in training, with some of the key findings including that participants were 4 times faster to learn the required skills, were 4 times more focused, as well as more confident to apply the skills that they learnt during training.
As physical retail shops struggle to adapt to the growing shift towards online shopping, using XR represents an opportunity to revitalize the traditional shopping experience.
With AR, customers no longer need to try clothes on to see how they fit. They can use a virtual fitting room to choose the look that fits best. For example, Timberland has installed displays where visitors can see a mirror-like view of themselves and try on different clothes. Companies are also experimenting with AR takeaway content, where companies are giving potential customers an AR app showcasing the products.
SynergyXR is helping companies transform their webpages and webshops into AR experiences. With web-based augmented reality (called WebAR) customers can use their smartphones to instantly see products in Augmented Reality – all without having to download an app. Corey Morris, Chief Marketing Officer at SynergyXR, sees this as a growing trend and an easy way for businesses to quickly make the leap into the Metaverse. Recent studies show that 34% of adult US consumers are already using AR when shopping and 71% said they would buy more if they used AR.
In an attempt to smoothen the hiring process and to make sure they are attracting the best talent, a growing number of firms are turning to XR. Grundfos is using virtual reality technologies to bring together candidates from all over the world in their Graduate Programme. Sune describes how, thanks to VR, the Graduate Programme application process was able to bring candidates together and complete fun and interactive activities. Similarly, XR can be used to gauge candidates’ competencies. For example, Jaguar has worked with Gorillaz to produce a code-breaking challenge that used MR.
On the flip side, another element of the recruitment process that employers are using is to demonstrate what the company can do for potential employees. For example, General Mills has been using XR to demonstrate the company’s working environment and culture to candidates.
For companies that are sourcing from a global talent pool, using XR solutions is a great way to attract the best potential candidates who would otherwise be hesitant about traveling long distances for an interview. Besides, if you bring a couple of Virtual Reality headsets with you to the next college employment fair, then you are sure to stand out from the crowd.
Although the rumors about H&M opening a store in the Metaverse proved false, the e-commerce industry is nevertheless embracing Extended Reality. The pandemic has boosted retailers’ interest in investing in XR technologies, with an increased consumer desire to visualize purchases when they were unable to visit physical stores.
But some companies have already been ahead of the game. Back in 2017, IKEA launched its AR IKEA Place app. Within just a few clicks, the user was able to choose a piece of furniture and visualize how it would look in their homes. In 2021, IKEA went one further with IKEA Studio, allowing you to design an entire room. This not only allows you to drop the tape measure, but also channel your inner interior designer.
XR’s inherent visual quality has already seen it being used in several XR applications. The full extent to which XR will be used for interior design remains to be seen, but the companies that are enjoying the most success are using AR as a method of visualizing indoor spaces. Using digital twinning technology, market leader Matterport has developed applications where users are able to create everything from 3D photographs to providing measurements and dimensions of construction projects. In most cases, all the user needs is a smartphone.
A similar example is the Israeli company Resonai. Using AI and real-time data, the company has built the program Vera which allows you to visualize everything from a shop floor to an office space.
This gives designers and event planners enormous flexibility and adaptability. You can either visualize every detail of a planned new building, or simply arrange a single room ahead of an event.
In a sector where attention to detail is paramount, Extended Reality in the healthcare industry has the potential to provide better training to students in turn reducing the risk when it comes to performing operations. The company OSSO VR is pioneering the use of Virtual Reality in the healthcare industry by developing a platform where people can practice operations, as well as observe others performing them in real time.
For businesses that have gotten used to quickly jumping between Zoom calls for sales, using XR can ensure that you can continue to maximize time and reduce travel costs, while ensuring a lively and engaging client experience.
According to Thomas, by using XR, businesses are easily able to show products in the relevant environment. Furthermore, for anyone in the business of selling large, heavy pieces of machinery, using Augmented and Virtual Reality makes it far easier for potential clients to see and even test out a new product. In addition, using XR allows you to tailor specific products quickly and easily to clients, thus enhancing the client journey.
SynergyXR, for example, has been working with Vikan, a producer of hygienic cleaning tools to develop digital twins of their products and concepts with customers, effectively recreating the feeling of a physical showroom. Elsewhere, Danish company Kompan lets users design their own playground or fitness area using AR.
According to Corey, while much of the workplace has become accustomed to remote working, a sort of Zoom fatigue has set in for many employees. However, by using XR tools, companies can retain the benefits of working remotely while ensuring that the personal touch is not lost.
Extended Reality in education has really gathered pace in the last few years, with applications now catering to everything from virtual field trips to more collaborative, interactive learning in the classroom. XR in education is currently being used right from early years learning up to higher education, as educators explore new and innovative teaching methods.
XR research has also focused on creating a more inclusive education system. One such use case is in the US, where the Department of Education is using virtual reality to help students with autism and learning disabilities. The project, led by researchers at the University of Kansas, is aimed at developing kids’ social skills in the safe environment of Virtual Reality. Although this specific case is still in its research phase, it nevertheless demonstrates the power that XR has to change people’s lives for the better.
As was the case for so many sectors, Covid-19, almost overnight, upended the modus operandi of the fitness industry. With gyms and many sports clubs forced to close for extended periods of time, this forced people to get creative with how they work out and stay in shape. A whole array of apps and programs that incorporate XR have been created over the past couple of years, ranging from full immersion VR to AR, with the size of the virtual fitness industry predicted to reach $60 bn USD by 2027.
At the heart of the most successful applications is not just letting people exercise, but also retaining the fun and social component of exercise. One such example is FitXR, which uses immersive VR technology to recreate sports and activities such as boxing and dancing. What’s more, FitXR maintains the social aspect of many fitness activities by offering a multiplayer mode where you can work out in real-time with friends.
The potential for Extended Reality is endless. It’s used by businesses to ensure a more productive operation, by governments to improve the education system and by research bodies to discover even more possibilities. Such are the possibilities with Extended Reality that we at SynergyXR believe it is a case of if, and not when, it’ll come to your industry.