ThinkReality Powers the Business Metaverse

Vishal Shah, GM AR/VR, Lenovo Intelligent Devices Group
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Lenovo ThinkReality Helps Customers Scale into the Next Big Wave of Computing

The infrastructure for the next big wave of computing is being imagined and built now; it is called the Metaverse. Simply put, the Metaverse is a virtual immersive world where large numbers of people come together to work, play, and socialize. It is the next big step in the evolution of the Internet or Web 3.0. What is envisioned is a real-time 3D spatial map of not only the real world and things in it, but also virtual places (yes, real estate) and things imagined and built by creators empowered by decentralized blockchain protocols, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and crypto currencies. The Metaverse will enable all the information that exists in this virtual world to be persistent, shared, and accessed by multiple users and devices, especially high fidelity Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) devices and applications.

However, it is important to note, the Metaverse is not a destination today. There are no road signs, URLs or even a red pill that will get you into the Metaverse. In reality, the Metaverse is still only the anticipated continuing evolution and convergence of devices, applications, transactions, and internet infrastructure. The term describes the future of the tech we will eventually hold, touch, use, and connect to—as well as the changes in human behavior that will follow.

The development of the Metaverse has been gradual over years but is now accelerating. Enterprise AR/VR technology adoption was slower than other comparable technologies due to the heterogeneous environment and lack of AR/VR companies who can offer an end-to-end solution, including services and support.

Until 2020, most of the companies around the globe were evaluating commercial AR and VR use cases in their innovation teams. In 2020, COVID-19 became a catalyst for extended reality (XR) technologies (both AR and VR technologies) to help enterprises maintain business continuity and enable people to collaborate and work remotely more efficiently. The Metaverse is a future state of technology where 3D data is easily created and universally readable, resulting in 3D applications as the norm for business processes, productivity, and entertainment.

For customers somewhere on a journey to the Metaverse, Lenovo’s ThinkReality is here to help. ThinkReality offers the world’s most powerful and flexible enterprise XR software platform, hardware, and world-class professional services all from the leading global computer manufacturer.

The ThinkReality platform provides a proven, scalable, and streamlined path from concept to production for enterprise XR applications. ThinkReality is conceived for today’s world and the future. Business teams can connect existing XR devices and add advanced new devices as they become available. In addition, the platform allows customers to develop and deploy apps and content remotely throughout the enterprise while managing devices and applications from a single interface.

ThinkReality xR Services provides bespoke, end-to-end services to Lenovo customers, helping them quickly realize the return on their XR investments. ThinkReality is the only complete solution that lets customers focus on problem-solving for their Metaverse real-estate by working across diverse hardware and software and providing the technology and insights needed in the new era of immersive computing.

Micron’s Smarter Manufacturing with ThinkReality— A Case Study

Person working on an experimental vacuum chamber with an XR overlay on ThinkRealityIn early 2019, Micron began exploring AR solutions for remote assistance to connect engineers on the shop floor with experts in a shared virtual environment. “Our plan was to use AR technology to enable technicians across different sites to work remotely together with subject matter experts in real time to carry out new equipment installations, machine troubleshooting and maintenance,” says Ning Khang Lee, director of Smart Manufacturing & AI, at Micron.

“Lenovo was an easy choice for the underlying platform. The Lenovo ThinkReality platform is specifically optimized for the holo|one suite of mixed reality software applications, enabling us to take advantage of the agility and flexibility of a disruptive startup like holo|one with the guarantees and excellent services from a tech giant like Lenovo.”

When news of the COVID-19 outbreak began to circulate in 2020, Micron quickly accelerated the program roadmap and launched a proof-of-concept exercise. Micron worked closely with Lenovo and to integrate ThinkReality with its internal systems and meet stringent security requirements. According to Lee, “To protect our intellectual property, we need to ensure that data streaming between on-site engineers and external experts is completely secure. Both the Lenovo and holo|one teams put in a lot of development hours to help us achieve the right balance of openness, ease of use, and security.”

Impressed with the results of the first phase of the project, Micron is now finalizing phase two of its AR program — the phase to enable AR standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the point of demand. The company is working with Lenovo, relying on its xR Services offering to convert SOPs into AR format, so that engineers will have step-by-step guidance in their peripheral visions with the wearables on.

Lee elaborates, “Our goal is to integrate AR workflows with Blueprint, our custom-developed mobile app. If a machine goes down, engineers get an alert via Blueprint and are given instructions for repair and a checklist for bringing it back to an operational state. By making these SOPs available via the ThinkReality platform and holo|one, engineers can work more efficiently and productively to get machines up and running again. We’re working closely with Lenovo’s xR Service team to integrate Blueprint with the ThinkReality platform via custom APIs. We expect to bring the solution online in early 2022.”

Phase three of the project will expand on the SOP solution, including 3D overlays and deviation detection via machine vision. “Particularly for complex repairs and SOPs with higher possibilities for human error, 3D overlays will act as an extra helping hand, and the visual AI will alert engineers if any mismatch is detected,” says Chong Ee Low, manager of Smart Manufacturing & AI at Micron. “This will also help when training newly qualified engineers. Phase three is still at an early stage, but we are very excited about the ongoing evolution of our remote assistance solutions.”

“We believe that AR/VR technology has a vital role to play in the future of manufacturing,” Lee concludes. “With the Lenovo ThinkReality solution powered by holo|one software, engineers can work more efficiently to keep production facilities running smoothly, helping us to meet the growing demand for our products.”

Read this case study to learn more about how Micron is using AR technology to build smarter manufacturing capabilities.

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