On January 18th, 2023
How Toyota Motors is Using the Microsoft HoloLens Headset
Sometimes, even the most precise, detailed, and informative written instructions aren’t enough to help a professional master a new skill. There are times when immersion is the only way to truly learn something new in the educational experience.
This is something Toyota Motors discovered when it began experimenting with Microsoft and the innovative potential of the HoloLens. In a recent case study released by Toyota and Microsoft, David Kleiner, the leader of Toyota’s North American Applied Technology Research lab, describes a specific use case demonstrating the power of the HoloLens to his team.
In a New Jersey logistics centre, a professional was struggling to find the best way of installing a door edge guard onto a Toyota car. For extra help, they put on a HoloLens 2 headset, opened a window, and called a colleague in California. Instantly, they were able to look through the eyes of someone on the opposite end of the country. The employee’s co-worker was able to guide his peer by showing him what sound to listen to when completing the task.
The guidance was recorded on the HoloLens 2 and captured with step-by-step holographic instructions for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides system, so all workers can now access the same help.
According to Kleiner, this story offers an excellent example of how the HoloLens can help to empower teams in the quest for continuous improvement. It also explains why workers at 6 US logistics centres are now using the HoloLens 2 for guidance, training, and collaboration.
Microsoft HoloLens and the Industrial Metaverse
According to Kleiner, the most important metric for Toyota right now is speed. The faster the company can train people and solve problems, the faster it can bring new products to market. That’s why they’re turning to mixed reality (MR) and the Metaverse to overcome the restrictions of time and location. Toyota believes this innovative new project will help them to empower their team members to share knowledge and move faster.
Part of what made the Microsoft HoloLens headset such a clear choice for Toyota’s mixed reality needs is the approach Microsoft is taking to building the next wave of the “industrial Metaverse”. Microsoft doesn’t just offer the right devices to access extended reality (XR) innovation. It combines everything companies need into a single pane of glass.
With MR technology, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Azure, companies can build digital twins of a factory warehouse or floor or simulate supply chain processes in the cloud. They can use an all-in-one environment to shrink their environmental footprint or boost operational efficiency. With Microsoft’s technology, companies like Toyota can access all of the components required to build an industrial Metaverse that empowers and enables frontline workers wherever they are.
According to Kleiner, Toyota wants to make the HoloLens headset the “screen” for frontline workers. When they’re wearing one of these headsets, employees will be able to access all of the tools they need without having to load up a laptop. With Azure cloud services, businesses like Toyota can provide their frontline workers with collaborative tools, holographic experiences, and other valuable tools for productivity while keeping team members “hands-free”.
Unlocking New Work Experiences with Microsoft
The door edge guard example mentioned above showcases the power of one of the tools built into the Microsoft ecosystem – Remote Assist.
Toyota also helped to drive the enhanced “Guides” experience now offered to HoloLens users. Workers at Toyota can now grab a headset, start a session, and get immediate access to a holographic trainer to guide them. If they need extra support, they can also call an expert from within the app.
In the past, technicians used to put QR codes on the hood of a vehicle and scan them to follow holographic instructions with HoloLens and Guides. However, those holograms often appeared to drift as the user moved around the car. That’s why Toyota decided to work with Microsoft to develop “object understanding”, which allowed technicians to scan a whole vehicle and lock a hologram in place. This ensures Toyota staff members have a more consistent experience.
Since helping to advance the development of Guides, Toyota has continued to find value in the tool as a solution for training. Kleiner says Toyota trainers can now use Guides to allow trainees to work independently, so multiple students can learn at the same time. Depending on the individual, training times have been cut by between 20 and 50%.
A Consistently Evolving Ecosystem
Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has made some significant improvements to the HoloLens 2 platform, building off the feedback given by brands like Toyota. Microsoft has even invested in making the technology easier to manage at scale. This ensures IT departments will be able to manage HoloLens 2 headsets just like they would any other phone, tablet, or laptop.
Innovations like this have helped Toyota to move their HoloLens 2 initiatives rapidly from the lab into the enterprise environment. According to Kleiner, when the technology was introduced to the IT department, they had no problem implementing it into the enterprise because it was “just another Windows machine”.
Going forward, Microsoft plans to continue working with customers like Toyota to overcome challenges and make the HoloLens ecosystem more compelling. Toyota’s Kleiner expects Guides to be the killer MR app for frontline workers in the years to come. His team are going to continue providing HoloLens 2 headsets to employees throughout the company so that they can collaborate, learn, and develop in new ways.
According to Kleiner, Toyota now has a device they can deploy to every person that’s easy to maintain and impactful. It allows frontline workers to participate in more extensive business conversations, regardless of team structure or rank.
Thanks to HoloLens and Microsoft, everyone at Toyota has a voice.