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I am quite excited to share today’s blog. This morning I will be joining Satya Nadella at day one of Microsoft Build 2018 to announce two new apps coming to Microsoft HoloLens customers as a limited-time free preview starting May 22 — Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout.
Last year I had the chance to speak at Future Decoded and talk about our vision for mixed reality in the modern workplace. In particular, I talked about expanding our focus from Information Workers to include Firstline Workers. Firstline Workers in any company are the first to the customer and the first to the problem. This includes people who primarily interact with customers, as well as people who create and operate products, machines, and spaces and who need to move around and use their hands to do their work.
We learn so much from others who are using what we create early on. Customer feedback is our most important development tool. Over the past two years since we started shipping HoloLens, we’ve been paying attention to the highest value workflows that cut across a variety of Firstline industries. In close partnership with hundreds of customers, we discovered that the highest value workflows are around remote assistance, space planning, training and development, product development collaboration, and access to spatial data from IoT devices.
Over the past several months, our team has been working hard to develop and deliver applications that will empower Firstline Workers to achieve more. It’s my privilege on behalf of everyone on our team to introduce you to Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout, coming as a limited-time free preview for existing HoloLens customers starting May 22.
To learn more about how you can participate in the limited-time free preview starting May 22, please visit us here.
Microsoft Remote Assist — Collaborate in mixed reality to solve problems faster
With Microsoft Remote Assist we set out to create a HoloLens app that would help our customers collaborate remotely with heads-up, hands-free video calling, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations. During the design process, we spent a lot of time with Firstline Workers. We asked ourselves, “How can we help Firstline Workers share what they see with an expert while staying hands-on to solve problems and complete tasks together, faster.” It was important to us that Firstline Workers are able to reach experts on whatever device they are using at the time, including PCs, phones, or tablets.
Our work led us to focus on three capabilities.
Collaborate with shared perspective
With video calling, made possible using Microsoft Teams, image sharing, and mixed-reality annotations, Firstline Workers can share what they see and collaborate with experts remotely. Workers and experts can annotate their shared view with mixed-reality ink and arrows, or insert images into their view, to pinpoint and solve problems efficiently.
The ability to control access to remote communications with industry-leading identity and security measures. With Azure Active Directory login and Mobile Device Management, Firstline Workers and experts can focus with peace of mind on what matters most.
With mixed-reality annotations, live streaming, and video capture, we can enable Firstline Workers and experts to identify and address issues accurately the first time. This can help customers eliminate travel and expedite troubleshooting, increasing employees’ efficiency.
Here is a peek into what Microsoft Remote Assist will make possible.
Microsoft Layout — Design spaces in context with mixed reality
With Microsoft Layout our goal was to build an app that would help people use HoloLens to bring designs from concept to completion using some of the superpowers mixed reality makes possible. With Microsoft Layout customers can import 3-D models to easily create and edit room layouts in real-world scale. Further, you can experience designs as high-quality holograms in physical space or in virtual reality and share and edit with stakeholders in real time.
With Microsoft Layout we wanted to help customers see ideas in context, saving valuable time and money. Here is a peek into what Microsoft Layout makes possible.
We want to make sure you have what you need to prepare for the limited-time free preview of Remote Assist and Layout when they are released on May 22. To make sure your roll-out is smooth and seamless, additional information, such as device requirements, technical requirements, and network requirements can be found here.
As excited as we are about these apps, there is nothing more important than seeing how our customers and partners are using them. The workplace is changing now more than ever. While we live in a world where technology is everywhere, many people don’t have information where they need it most: in the real-world context of their work.
Today, as part of our presentation I was able to showcase how ZF Group, a German car-parts manufacturer headquartered in Friedrichshafen, is using Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout on its factory floor. An early partner on our journey, it has been working with us over the past few months to help ensure these apps, even in preview, are crafted with insights from those who will be using them daily to get their work done.
Here’s a look into how ZF Group has been using Remote Assist and Layout over the past couple of months.
World-sensing devices will use spatial analytics to make data more valuable
Finally, we talked about the empowerment that comes from world-sensing devices that can provide invaluable spatial data and context for physical workflows that matter most. These environments are an untapped opportunity for getting work done more effectively. We’re taking this further by making sure this class of data will have enterprise-grade manageability and extensibility that integrates with existing applications and processes.
One of our earliest HoloLens partners, thyssenkrupp, is leveraging this work now to discover insights that will make it easier for its employees to complete some of their most important tasks.
Here is a look into the work our friends at thyssenkrupp are doing to leverage spatial analytics.
We will have a lot more to share in the coming weeks and months. Soon you will hear us share more on how we are going to help with training and development and collaboration on product design and prototyping. Our team loves doing work that really makes a difference for our customers!
And a reminder — if you want to be a part of the preview for Microsoft Remote Assist and Microsoft Layout, please visit us here.
As always, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter to share what you are doing with mixed reality.
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