Last winter the hype cycle concerned metaverse, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR). I wrote about a conversation with GridRaster Co-Founder Dijam Panigrahi about his company’s take on “immersive mixed reality for enterprises.” That was in January this year. Not long after came ChatGPT and the hype cycle went into overdrive on Artificial Intelligence. Now everything is AI.

This seemed to be a good time to talk with Dijam again following up to see if he wanted to add AI to the AR/VR talk and come full circle beyond the hype cycle. Also he is not the marketing lead. We can skip the buzzwords and hype and focus on why and how rather than stay at a more superficial plane.

GridRaster provides the platform, foundation if you will, for using AR and VR hardware of your choice in order to accomplish real-world tasks. Talking with me, he’ll focus on industrial and manufacturing applications.

The marketing pitch leading to this conversation included sustainability. We broached that topic through the lens of minimalism. The idea of using technology to minimize use of resources.

OK, disclaimer, my son is a commercial airline pilot. I encourage all of you to go out and fly somewhere. However, if you have a problem with an asset, you may not want to wait hours/days for an expert to fly in from somewhere far away only to discover that a critical tool was located elsewhere.

How do we get these tools that may include AR or VR and/or AI to the front line worker in order to accomplish the task quickly and efficiently. For example, he told me, imagine a worker facing an aircraft grounded somewhere. It never requires maintenance where there is a maintenance hub. Now, the company must fly in an expert.

Now, what if we give that front-line worker something like a Microsoft HoloLens backed up with the GridRaster platform? Now between the local camera and 3D modeling (digital twin), the expert can see what is happening right at the instant. That expert can now see what’s happening, the worker can see information displayed through the device, and the expert can now guide the worker to complete the repair. Saves time, expense, fuel.

Dijam sees the platform and applicability extended to design engineering. Designers use clay models and iterative detailing to prototype a new car. With 3D modeling and conversations with a variety of design engineers, the team can iterate faster. This same applicability extends even into the manufacturing of the product.

I mentioned that I first wrote about these applications about 23 years ago. But the networks were too slow, the hardware too clunky, and the tools limited. He said, sure, look at how unit prices of many things have decreased, networks moving now even into 5G, data moving from centralized cloud to hybrid and edge. Technology continues to improve speed, ease of use, price for application. Plus GridRaster solving the infrastructure problem.

They have tried their application in manufacturing and have found that an AR solution helps a worker with one year of experience perform as well as one with five years. Given the worker shortage problem all over the world, this alone would justify a purchase.

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