A different version of this article previously appeared on IndustryWeek.
Immersive virtual reality has been promised for a long time, and it’s made great leaps forward in the last few years. It first appeared in various forms throughout the 20th Century, most visibly in science-fiction movies that posed the question: if we can escape to a virtual world, should we?
It’s the premise of Steven Spielberg’s latest futuristic popcorn romp, "Ready Player One," and it’s a question manufacturing leadership should ask themselves.
Between the flashes of pop culture references and kinetic CGI battles, the question does sort of get answered in the movie. VR, like any tech, is not inherently good or bad; it all depends on how it’s used and how often. Unless you’re as cartoonishly evil as the CEO from the flick, we doubt your implementation of VR would be “bad,” but it could be unnecessary.
Strong industrial use cases exist right now for design and engineering, with CAD files and blueprints jumping off the screen (or you jumping into the screen) for you to manipulate. We are merely at the pioneer stage of exploring the new digital frontier, though, with a whole lot more to discover and invent. Here’s a quick rundown of where we’ve been and where we are now, which should give you an idea of what VR cases you should get a closer look.
Wave of the Future Worker
Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)
Plant Design: The Next Generation
The Lawnmower Man (1992)
Learning by Doing
Training Assembly Workers
Motion Tracking on the Go
The Matrix (1999)
Linking Physical and Virtual Parts
Ready Player One (2018)
Real Omni-Directional Treadmill
Power Up with VR Backpack
Hooked on a Feeling
Ready Player Two
Virtual Interior Design
Office interior designer Mayhew has deployed Yulio's VR platform to help customers "see" a show room before anything is installed or painted. it's so realistic, you may think this Kubota dealership is real. It's totally digital. And as solutions like this evolve, they will ensure every plant, from the assembly line to overall layout, it optimally designed for safety and efficiency.