Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality headset has found a ready home in the European car industry, and now Renault Trucks is the latest to trial the headset on the factory floor.
The company is planning to use the headset to assist employees in carrying out complex quality control procedures which currently require following procedures on paper forms. A digital engine part will be super-imposed over the real hardware, guiding operators through step by step validating procedures.
“In practice, quality control operators will wear Microsoft HoloLens smartglasses in which all the digitalised engine parts will be integrated,” explained Bertrand Félix, the Renault Trucks engineer behind this project. “Via the glasses and mixed reality interface, operators will see decision-making instructions that will guide them through the most complex control operations. At the moment, operators working on control points are still using paper instructions.”
The electronic instructions are more flexible, and can be more quickly updated, and can also respond to embedded sensors in parts to guide operators to appropriate tests.
Renault notes using VR and AR also reduces the cognitive load of operators and accelerates their training, and that the company envisaged eventually using the headsets for assistance with assembly or repair.
The software was developed by Immersion, who specializes in VR and AR.
“In addition to the expertise we have been acquiring in virtual reality since 1994, our added value lies in our multi-disciplinary team that really understands needs and uses in order to offer our customers a global experience”, explained Jean-Baptiste de la Rivière, R&D and innovation director at Immersion. “With Renault Trucks, we have designed and developed a tool that is perfectly suited to the requirements of the factory, which can be integrated into the manufacturer’s industrial processes.”
Microsoft has recently expanded HoloLens distribution in Europe, adding French and German companies Econocom and Bechtle, who are using their expertise and widespread networks bring the HoloLens to more corporate customers in the European market.
“Mixed reality is still in its early stages but already it’s poised to revolutionise a number of uses in the professional world. Joining forces with Microsoft, who are precursors of this technology, will enable us to help our clients keep right up to date with these new uses,” said Bruno Grossi, Executive Director of Econocom Group.