Microsoft establishes Industrial Metaverse team to use VR/AR to empower industrial systems

Microsoft's industrial metaverse plan is taking shape, that is, using the metaverse to add fun to the bland applications in factories and other industrial settings. Last week, Microsoft announced internally a new team called the Industrial Metverse Core (IMC), which plans to help customers create new immersive software interfaces to control power plants, industrial robots, and Industrial control systems behind transportation networks.

Products the team will deliver to industrial customers will include technology from Bonsai, a startup Microsoft acquired in 2018. Bonsai is developing a general-purpose application development service and simulation software that non-coders can use to add machine learning to industrial systems, one of the people said.

Microsoft has been discussing different ways to enter the "metaverse" since last year. As we all know, Meta is the first major technology company to develop the "metaverse". In Meta's vision, the "metaverse" is a 3D online world that consumers can navigate through increasingly powerful virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices.

Microsoft's vision for an "industrial metaverse" is slightly different. Like Meta, Microsoft believes that professionals will use the technology to interact in projects. But Microsoft believes that more often, people will use the technology to monitor machine and factory environments. For example, aircraft mechanics can inspect car engines to determine if they need repairs through a simulated software environment provided by AR and VR headsets.

The IMC team has the backing of Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella and other Microsoft executives, people familiar with the matter said. Microsoft also recently named a head of the IMC team, former Bonsai CEO and co-founder Mark Hammond.

In addition, Eric Traut, a technical fellow on Microsoft's Business AI team, has been named as the engineering and science director of the IMC team. Harald Winkmann, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Commercial AI team, will also join the IMC team for product planning. Both report to Hammond.

The IMC team, led by Hammond, will report to Corey Sanders. Sanders has been with Microsoft for 18 years and is the corporate vice president of Microsoft's Industrial Cloud and Global Expansion teams. IMC will work with clients in healthcare, retail, financial services, energy and manufacturing.

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