Kawasaki will use HoloLens equipment to make robots

Microsoft announced on Tuesday that Kawasaki became a new customer of the company's "Industrial Metaverse" business, and its factory employees will wear Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality device to make robots.

Microsoft's "industrial metaverse" means factory workers will wear HoloLens devices to manufacture and repair equipment and manage the supply chain.

Microsoft HoloLens devices were first released in 2016. Users wearing HoloLens can experience augmented reality capabilities. For users in the industrial field, using HoloLens can also integrate technologies such as Microsoft's cloud computing to help factory workers and managers make products faster and more efficiently.

Microsoft hopes to use augmented reality to create a digital workspace that replicates the real world, speeding up processes such as repairs and the start of new production lines . For example, with the help of augmented reality technology, instead of physically visiting the site to repair damaged parts, maintenance personnel can communicate with workers wearing HoloLens in the field and guide them through the repair process through augmented reality visual cues. The technology also enables shop floor managers to remotely manage newly opened production lines, a method Microsoft is using to solve supply chain problems.

In addition to Kawasaki, Heinz also recently announced that it will use Microsoft's "Industrial Metaverse" solution in the ketchup factory. Boeing is Microsoft's manufacturing partner.

While this may sound like a gimmick, in fact, Microsoft customers have been looking for Metaverse-related technologies . Jessica Hawk, Microsoft's corporate vice president for mixed reality, said in an interview last week that the industrial metaverse is a technological experience before the fully immersive technology of the future.

"That's why I think you see a lot of energy in this area," Hawke said. "These are real-world problems that businesses are dealing with...so a technology solution like this that can help solve supply chain challenges can be very impactful."

While the concept of the metaverse originally came from science fiction, describing scenarios in which people play, live and work in such a virtual world; Microsoft's thriving business also illustrates that more uses of the current concept of the metaverse are enterprise-related , rather than ordinary consumption.

For example, an upcoming mixed-reality headset from Facebook parent Meta, which is more expensive than the current $299 virtual-reality headset, is also marketed to those who want to work remotely but feel “immersed.” In fact, Meta's first Metaverse product was also an app that lets users hold meetings in a virtual reality environment.

But the difference is that Microsoft is already one step ahead of the metaverse, where the company is effectively selling mixed reality technology to other businesses, while also giving developers the tools they need to build their own metaverse experiences.

"Our strategy recognizes that people will experience the metaverse on a variety of devices and platforms, and we do see a variety of differences," Hawke said.

Metaverse products can also run through 2D screens. Microsoft added new features to its chat app Teams last year, allowing users to appear in it as digital avatars. These capabilities will also be available on HoloLens devices and other platforms in the future.

"We're really excited because this is a moment that unlocks so much innovation," Hawke said. "Today we realized something, and we also realized there's a lot more that we don't fully realize. So it's a very exciting time for us."

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