Microsoft HoloLens: What’s next?
Since its launch in 2016, Microsoft HoloLens has provided an increased awareness of augmented and mixed reality, where the technology is now available in With aims to the Microsoft HoloLens has been rapidly growing in popularity and significance, setting a precedent and a subsequent rise in competition within a multitude of industries, with over 150 mixed reality apps available in Windows Store and increasing number of competitors within the technological sphere.
Uitlising Windows 10, the holographic computer is just over a year old, but has been viewed as revolutionary, especially within construction and design. Developed and refined to enable the development of innovative and exciting projects, builds are now delivered ahead of schedule, on budget and at reduced cost. We spoke with Microsoft to see how the HoloLens continues to drive support worldwide.
What’s been happening?
Enabling users to interact with holograms, which is blended with real world content, Greg Sullivan, Director at Microsoftexplains:
We previously featured the Microsoft HoloLens and spoke with Aviad Almagor, Director of the Mixed Reality Programme at Trimble, who has been utilising the HoloLens to interact with design data more intuitively. Since the start of this year, the HoloLens has come on in leaps and bounds, supporting Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO) professionals in undertaking high quality operations and bringing 3D models to life. Such developments have increased collaboration worldwide and enabled users to explore designs in 3D without expert guidance. This echoes Almagor’s previous statement, “Mixed Reality brings 3D data to life and puts information in the user’s hands without the need to change or adjust the data format.”
Microsoft’s SketchUp Viewer was launched at the end of last year, the first commercial HoloLens application to support professionals undertaking 3D modelling. Lorraine Bardeen, General Manager of Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences explains that the application “allows people to create improved collaboration and a better understanding of designs in real scale, empowering companies to be more innovative and efficient.”
Such developments have also led to the establishment of a number of pilot projects aimed at delivering time and cost benefits to construction projects. The establishment of Automated Progress Monitoring has enabled the reduction of repetitive manual work, where information can now be viewed and stored digitally via a centralised system, providing the ability for cross-referencing and the documentation of vital information. This concept has been highly effective in areas such as bridge maintenance, where Microsoft has also developed Automated Bridge Damage Protection. Bardeen explains: “High-resolution images can be taken by local teams and sent to inspection engineers, where these are automatically mapped onto 3D models of the respective bridge. Structural engineers can then review the integrity of a bridge in mixed reality using HoloLens, making recommendations for repairs or other preventative measures.” This process increases the safety levels of bridges, reduces potential disruption and increases efficiency.
Whilst the HoloLens has encouraged collaboration worldwide, its drawbacks have also been highlighted. Unless both parties wear the headset, it proved complicated for workers to showcase new designs or innovations, limiting information sharing significantly. This has therefore led to the development of Microsoft’s Spectator View Camera, released in February 2017. The technology effectively supports collaboration and developing partnerships by enabling spectators to see what the user sees and learn how various ideas will help shape future projects.
Nonetheless, Microsoft could not provide all of these developments alone. With a number of commercial partners such as Vuforia, the company continually works in partnerships to develop new tools, products and platforms which will further support professionals within the AECO industry. One such partnership is with Autodesk Fusion 360, where Microsoft utilises Autodesk’s software to provide solutions and support collaboration between engineers and designers. A second partnership with Japan Airlines (JAL) has also supported the development of two programs which support engine mechanics and flight crew trainees who now utilise holograms within training operations, rather than undergoing operations manually.
Furthermore, Microsoft has partnered with medical company Stryker regarding the development of medical facilities, such as operating rooms, with the use of embedded mixed reality technology. Bardeen explains that technology company Stryker will bring operating room designs into the future by utilising the HoloLens and Stryker’s ByDesign solution: “A design can be created and adjusted without the need of a complicated mock operating room setup. Teams of surgeons can collaborate in a conference room, office, or work with holograms, at full size and scale, in the actual operating room – no bulky equipment required, just a headset. This allows teams to move quickly from envisioning to execution, improving the operating room for surgeons, staff, and ultimately the patients they care for.” Such developments will therefore enable individuals to visualise a finished product with ease.
Microsoft continue to transform how the construction industry will collaborate and communicate, supporting designers and architects and produce world-class results. It will be interesting to see how the technology will continue to inspire developers and technology giants to utilise mixed-reality technology and how it will support a multitude of industries going forward, providing quality results for customers.
XYZ Reality receives £20m to develop Assisted Reality
Founded in 2017, XYZ Reality aims to "revolutionise" the construction sector with its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality (AR) solution, Holosite.
Designed to enable an on time and on budget delivery of construction projects, by eliminating building errors, HoloSite has been available to select customers through an early access programme and has already been used on projects totalling a value of over £1.5bn in the last year.
With approximately 98% of construction megaprojects facing cost overruns or delays and 7-11% of project costs being spent on correcting errors, XYZ Reality’s purpose-built integrated AR solution directly addresses these issues.
With its safety certified AR hardhat, cloud platform and in-built proprietary software, Holosite accurately positions high fidelity 3D design models on construction sites, enabling teams to build it right, first time. The technology system has been used on complex construction projects including data centres, pharmaceutical facilities and airports.
This funding will be used to accelerate the company’s ambition of transforming projects by preparing for HoloSite’s commercial launch in the USA and continuing investment in strengthening research and development. The company is also growing its London team to include key hires across technology, manufacturing, sales and marketing.
David Mitchell, Founder and CEO of XYZ Reality, said developing its engineering-Grade AR solution helping construction teams identify errors in real-time is just the start.
"The next phase is Assisted Reality, where our spatial computing technology will have the intelligence to automatically detect and report issues in the field. And ultimately, the goal is builders building from holograms. Our vision of developing world changing products aligns with Octopus Ventures’ mission of investing in companies that are powering the next industrial revolution. We look forward to building history.”
The latest round of funding is led by Octopus Ventures, one of the largest and most active venture investors in Europe, known for its commitment of investing in companies and founders that are changing the world. Octopus Ventures has a strong track record, spanning investment in health, fintech, consumer, B2B software, and deep tech. This includes WaveOptics, one of Octopus Ventures’ early investments in Augmented Reality, which was recently acquired by Snap Inc.
Rebecca Hunt, early-stage investor at Octopus Ventures, said: "We’ve always invested in entrepreneurs leading industry change and XYZ is doing just that. It's solving a massive problem that costs the construction industry billions every year, using its Engineering-Grade Augmented Reality solution to spearhead a shift in the sector’s approach. The founding team of David, Umar and Murray have deep domain and technical expertise, which we believe makes XYZ uniquely placed to drive this transformation.”
XYZ Reality also announces a new partnership with Mace, for the construction of a hyper-scale data centre in Europe. With speed to market being particularly essential for mission critical builds, HoloSite’s AR technology will have a significant role in supporting an accurate and time effective build for Mace, which last week appointed Jon McElroy its new Managing Director for International Technology.
Mace Technical Director, Stephen Henley, said: “Mace has built a reputation of redefining the boundaries of ambition, always bringing efficiency, innovation and responsibility to our projects. With the implementation of XYZ’s groundbreaking AR system, we continue to be committed to delivering projects faster, safer and better than ever before.”
Five years ago, Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs Research expected virtual and augmented reality to become an $80 billion market by 2025.
But according to new research by global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, nearly 28 million augmented and mixed reality smart glasses will ship in 2026, while the total global AR/MR market will surpass $175 billion in the same year.
"Major tech players across hardware, software, and services look familiar in the consumer space, contributing to strong and consistent overall growth," says Eric Abbruzzese, Research Director for ABI Research. "Those big tech names, with active investment and product ranging from already available, to announced, to all-but-announced, are creating a consumer AR market that will be dynamic and welcoming rather than struggling and immature."