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I recently met Gabriele Zocchi, technical Product Owner of Holo-Light at the Hannover Messe preview in Hannover, Germany. We discussed Holo-light and its products, the possibilities of AR, the application of AR in the manufacturing industry, and many more. Excerpts
By Nishant Kashyap
Please tell us about Holo-Light and its solutions.
At Holo Light, we are pioneers in Augmented Reality (AR) and have been developing solutions for almost seven years. Our experience started with the first generation of devices and software, and makes us a trusted and reliable company in the AR environment. Our primary focus is building B2B applications, specifically for design and engineering.
One of our toughest challenges has been to handle CAD files with their full quality, level of detail, and scale on the devices we had at the time. To overcome this, we developed our own streaming technology, allowing us to stream content from more powerful computers to AR devices with limitations.
When creating solutions for design and engineering, we prioritize the ability for our customers to use their own original data. This has been a core goal of the company from the beginning.
Okay, so you have been working in the field of Augmented Reality since the time when it was not even heard of by many people, especially in the manufacturing industry.
That's not entirely accurate. AR was gaining acceptance in various industries, including manufacturing when we started working on it almost seven years ago. However, the devices of the first generation were very limited and had a lot of restrictions. Most were only suitable for visualization, and the interaction system was missing.
As a result, we had to come up with ingenious solutions to tackle these limitations and leverage the full potential of AR. Despite the challenges, we were optimistic about the future of AR and believed that if we addressed these limitations the right way, it could revolutionize the way we work and interact with technology.
Please tell us about your products that will be the highlight of Holo-Light booth at Hannover Messe 2023
AR 3S is Holo-Light's main product. With AR 3S, designers and engineers can visualize and work with 3D CAD data in Augmented and Mixed Reality to speed up product development. We also have a new cloud ecosystem called XRnow, which we have introduced on the market last year. It is a cloud system that can be deployed for customers with any possible security requirement. XRnow is a server ecosystem that can host multiple AR/VR applications and they can all take advantage of our own streaming technology that was specifically designed for AR/VR. This streaming solution is the most secure and efficient when it comes to XR in general. Third-party suppliers can store multiple applications, and for enterprises, it means they have one single solution that brings the same level of capability in terms of data security, data source, data size. It enables them to have a complete catalog of applications designed around every specific business case in one central location.
Where do you see the best application for your products? What kind of industries can use it?
Our primary markets are currently mechanical engineering, automotive as well as aerospace and defense, but we are also seeing an increase in demand for our solutions in other industries such as medical, telecommunications, and oil & gas. Additionally, industries like architecture and construction rely heavily on digital data, and the challenge is how to bring this data to life.
AR provides a solution to this challenge by allowing users to visualize and interact with digital data in a more intuitive and immersive way. We are excited to see the growing interest and adoption of AR in various industries and are committed to providing innovative solutions to help our customers unlock the full potential of their digital data.
Can you explain a little bit more about the application and the usability of this product?
Collaboration has always been a key priority for us at Holo-Light, especially in the B2B scenario. From the very beginning, we designed our software to be collaborative, allowing two or more people to join the same working session from the same or remote locations through the local network and cloud interconnectivity.
With AR, users can share the same data set securely, and the interaction can happen in real-time. If they are in the same location, they can see each other, but if they are remote, they can see each other's avatar representation located around the object with accurate positioning in space.
Real-time synchronization allows users to see where others are working and what they are doing, which is especially useful when dealing with complex objects. Multiple users can take on different parts of the object and still work together towards a common goal. Our collaborative AR software enables teams to work together more efficiently and effectively, whether they are in the same location or across the globe.
Can you share the benefit of Holo-Light products with the help of any customer success story?
One of our long-standing and very successful clients is BMW. We have been collaborating with BMW for almost five years now and they recently published a case study detailing the benefits of using AR. Typically, it takes around four years from design to product launch for a brand-new car. However, BMW was able to reduce the time spent on concept evaluations by one year by using our AR technology. This is because the design review process became more efficient and effective by bringing the design file into real space, which allowed for detailed analysis.
The prototyping phase is also significantly reduced with AR. In the past, 3D printing was the best option for manufacturers to speed up prototyping and reduce costs. But with AR, you have an inexpensive solution that allows for testing of any prototype almost to the very end of the process. Once the design is done, you can review it in a matter of seconds, instead of waiting for the first physical prototype. This means that every decision can be iterated multiple times in a much faster way, and you only need to produce the very last prototype with the minimum quantity of materials.
Lastly, AR collaboration is a game-changer. Often, companies work with third-party suppliers who are not in the same area, and parts need to be shipped back and forth. With our collaboration system, BMW's team in Munich can review designs with their team overseas without the need for travel or shipping parts unless it's the very end of the process.
Currently, I see that you are mostly active in Europe and the US market. What are your plans for the other markets?
Those are for sure our most relevant markets right now. Recently we have started to work with Asia - India and Japan have been our first markets. But we are now in contact also with China, with Korea as well. We are looking for the right partners for us in these markets, who share our vision for AR.
So within the manufacturing industry, what kind of particular production environment is your focus?
By working with the most complicated products in the manufacturing industry, such as cars and airplanes, you are able to develop end-to-end processes and functionalities that can be applied to products with less complexity as well. This allows for a feedback loop where you can continually improve and refine your technology based on the needs of your customers.
Your comment on the future of AR technologies in manufacturing industry. What message do you want to give to manufacturers in terms of adoption of these technologies?
So, the key message we want to convey is to trust in the capabilities of AR technology. It is mature and can provide a rapid return on investment, efficient feedback loops, and significant improvements in product development speed and cost-effectiveness.
However, it's important to carefully consider the type of AR technology that fits your needs. There are different devices such as mobile devices, smart glasses, and HMD headsets, and the technology should seamlessly integrate with your workflow. At Holo-Light, we focus on eliminating data preparation and on working with original CAD files to provide a solution that can handle large amounts of data seamlessly.
While other solutions on the market may have limitations, it's crucial to find a product that meets your specific requirements. Don't be discouraged if the first solution you try doesn't fit perfectly. AR can still bring a lot of value to your organization today, and it's a technology that should be trusted and explored.
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