We had been in conversation with Steven Smart from ABB for a number of weeks, providing advice on how to best assess the opportunities offered by mixed reality and Microsoft HoloLens for ABB. While it was clear that the Hololens could revolutionise the way ABB does business, Steve wanted to be able to showcase this knowledge to his colleagues and decision makers in ABB constructively. We both agreed that conducting our proven half-day HoloLens ideation workshop workshops would be the most effective way for ABB to simultaneously discover and explore the potential of the Hololens. Before we knew it, we had arrived on a foggy morning at the Stonehouse facility: We were armed with a case full of mixed reality headsets, ready to introduce ABB to the magic of HoloLens! With a diverse set of backgrounds such as Finance, Sales, Marketing, Product and Support - the day started with twelve excited ABB participants.
Max sparked things off with gusto, introducing the Hololens headsets, talking through its features, how it works and its functionality, as well as some rules of thumb for design. We had tailored the presentation with emphasis on use cases and potentialities we believed relevant to ABB. During the first part of the workshop, we aim to infuse the business with our knowledge about HoloLens therefore giving the attendees an overview of its capabilities and limitations. Fused together with ABB’s intimate knowledge of their business, it creates an energetic mix that is the breeding ground for radical innovation. Talk is good, experience is better - in the next part, the attendees had the chance to try out mixed reality for themselves. Starting with a basic demonstration of the Hololens, including a panel-like view of several floating windows to showcase the potential as a monitoring solution, a hologram of a weightlifter performing a ‘squat clean and jerk’ on the conference table, as well as showing the Hololens’ ability to map and integrate real objects, spaces and obstructions to view in mixed reality.Within seconds of putting on the headsets, our attendees had smiles on their faces and were already coming up with potential applications. Their excitement was probably matched by ours, we’ve used this opportunity to test our prototype for an app to livestream the view of HoloLens to iOS which worked brilliantly.Next, we introduced our HoloLiving prototype - Europe’s first shared holographic experience which allows you to decorate your room in mixed reality collaboratively.Each user is able to see and interact with the same holographic furniture models as each other, also making real measurements of distances and areas. Sparked with creativity, we were spontaneously asked whether we could port a real 3D model of one of ABB’s water filters to HoloLens. Since we never shy away from a challenge, we got our hands dirty. The model was exported from Solidworks as a .obj file and we needed to reduce th polygon count. Using Meshlab, we applied a Quadric Edge Collapsion Decimation algorithm to reduce the polygon count from 100,000+ to 20,000. Now we needed to convert it to FBX to view it using the available 3D Viewer for HoloLens - saved to OneDrive, participant were able to view their 3D model on less than 20 minutes.
It was now time for the most valuable part of our session: ideation. With everyone organised into teams of 3-4, we kicked off the ideation bootcamp part. The ideation is deliberately designed to provoke focus, productivity and spontaneity. This not only allows for effective idea generation but it introduces participants to an ideation mindset that focuses on stimulating ideas in a limited time. For more information on the process of our ideation workshop please visit our Ideation Workshop overview.Following our proven framework of:Crazy8 (8 ideas in 4 minutes individually)Sharing the ideas within the team (3 minutes)Voting for the top 2 ideas within the team
We next gave each team a brief technical assessment of their top 2 ideas to ensure that these were doable with HoloLens. Now it was time for the senior decision maker, Frank, to cast his vote and thereby have the top-level view across all teams.
Last but not least, it was time for the teams to present their ideas to the group.
Not only were all of the team’s ideas feasible, but they were also highly innovative solutions to some key restraints that ABB and its competitors were facing in their industry. When it came down to their lean business pitches, we found them to be rather tantalising propositions: without disclosing too much, one of the solutions neatly tackled increasing consumer focus in ABB products, as well as cutting back time to market by approximately 25%! Incredibly, it was also relatively easy to implement. Another idea applied the Hololens to marketing, incorporating additional channels that are relatively unused by ABB. This idea could not only better convey to clients ABB’s message, but it would also reach an extremely wide audience. If ABB were to make good on first-mover advantage, they were confident that it could provide some of the lowest cost per head marketing they had ever implemented. We were able to advise on the ease with which the existing ABB catalogue could be leveraged with these ideas, timescales, difficulties that might be encountered in development and with company-wide adoption, as well as additional suggestions for easily added features or uses that could extend the existing scope of the ideas. All in all, we were very impressed by ABB’s creativity and teamwork, and are always glad to be of help with innovative pushes, particularly when they involve cutting-edge technology like the Hololens. In the next step, we want to put the ideas on the stand and rapidly prototype the top idea so watch this space to be the first to hear more about it.