September 12, 2018 - Mixed Reality / AR / VR

How to Improve Teamwork with Mixed Reality?

by Antoni Żółciak
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Mixed Reality with HoloLens brings holographic technology to life — and it can help you to carry out teamwork and external meetings in a way that was not possible before.

Mixed Reality technology mixes people, places, and objects from the digital world with the physical world. It becomes a blended, holographic environment, where you can not only create but also interact in a new way. Or, rather, a way that — so far — we were only aware of thanks to a wide variety of Hollywood science fiction blockbusters.

Read also: Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Trends in 2018

With Mixed Reality and HoloLens, holograms become real. You can work with such digital content as a part of your real worldin quite a natural way. You move the cursor by simply gazing in the right direction. You use gestures to open apps, size the items, or drag and drop the holograms. Moreover, you can use voice commands to navigate, select, open, command, and control the applications.

There is a lot of solid use cases for the technology already. However, we do not feel that enough has been said about its potential in teamwork and remote collaboration.

Can Working in Mixed Reality Help You to Achieve More?

Mixed Reality in teamwork / Microsoft

HoloLens and Mixed Reality can help to transform the way you work. But I will not describe how this new dimension of work will enable you and your coworkers to place information where they need it in a real-world context. That is more or less obvious and has been promoted through Microsoft’s marketing team over and over.

But how about implementing Mixed Reality for virtual conferences? Imagine seeing avatars of other attendees. You would be basically like a Jedi council, not a company having weekly telco’s.

Mixed Reality can help your company to become — basically — a real-life Jedi council

As you may point out, however, business is not about becoming a Jedi. It is about effectiveness and profiting through creating as much value as possible. Mixed Reality contributes to that substantially. Imagine that instead of traveling to another city, or country for that matter, you can just click and connect — and, in consequence, have an almost “real life” meeting.

That is just one example. Ford — and mixed reality’s practical implementation — is another. At Ford’s immersive Vehicle Environment Lab (FiVE), the company brings designers and engineers together. PCMag describes how Elizabeth Baron, Virtual Reality and Advanced Visualization Technical Specialist experiments to bring a new dimension of teamwork in a corporate world. “Through immersive, digital storytelling, she brings together product development, design, and engineering teams to experience a product before it is even developed,” as we can read on Ford’s website.

“This lab provides communication between different disciplines,” Baron explains. The immersive environment allows to embed a car model with a lot of inherent data, and then show it — in real time — to the entire team. Keeping in mind the challenges in communication between engineers and designers. More than that — the lab facilitates collaboration between the US, England, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, India, and China on a regular basis. According to Ford, it is much easier and more efficient to brainstorm, troubleshoot, and speed up the concept works. As we can read on PCMag, “this photo-realistic environment enables 88 people, at any one time, to participate in real-time product evaluations, in advance of any physical builds.

Merging Virtual and Real Workspaces

In a paper titled HoloLens, Augmented Reality and Teamwork: Merging Virtual and Real Workplaces (by Fernando Salvetti, Barbara Bertagni, Pierluigi Ingrassia, and Gabriele Prattico), we can find a description of an innovative and effective training tool to both lay people and healthcare providers in Basic Life Support and Defibrillation (BLSD). And it is being done with Mixed Reality, of course.

Two components of the program are most valid:

  • A self-instruction learning program that requires minimal instructor intervention
  • Realistic haptic feedback through a CPR manikin and a virtual scenario that can be easily reconfigured to generate many different situations, including extreme and dangerous ones

The team behind the project created — one could say — “a cooperative game aimed at fostering behavioral, cognitive, and meta-cognitive skills.”

The project is an essential example of a successful teamwork. Two teams, comprised of a minimum of two people each, had to cooperate sharing information and knowledge relevant to navigate — moreover, the teams are in different places and cannot directly look at each other.

The projects focus was about eight specific key performance indicators (KPIs) such as knowledge circulation and use of available information, effective communication, setting priorities and timekeeping, workload distribution, stress management within the team, and teamwork.

It Is Just Starting

While Mixed Reality may be relatively new, both companies and academic institutions are heavily invested in developing practical use cases for the technology — improving teamwork being just one of them. With the rise of remote and decentralized teams, or making multidisciplinary collaboration more flexible, this could become the most important solutions of this decade.

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