Microsoft’s HoloLens Has a New Believer: Toyota
Lane Long posted on November 30, 2018 |
(Image courtesy of Microsoft.)
(Image courtesy of Microsoft.)

Microsoft has been looking to establish itself as a leader in the commercial augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) markets since it first began shipping its HoloLens system back in 2016. That journey advanced another step a few weeks ago when CEO Satya Nadella told the Nikkei Asian Review that Toyota has begun implementing his company’s technology on its production lines.

A Diverse Array of Possibilities for Toyota

Incorporating mixed reality for carmakers has a range of potential benefits. Kayano Koichi, Toyota's project manager of 3D data utilization, said HoloLens, in conjunction with Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 suite of AR apps, could completely upend the way his team operates. It has already begun to fill an integral niche in doing things such as coating finish inspection. That particular process has been shaved down to an eighth of the labor hours previously required.

It could also play a role in optimizing factory planning and space allocation. Using the Layout application, Koichi said designers can easily visualize whether pieces of manufacturing equipment will fit in various locations. Specifics aside, Toyota is committed to the long-term upside of becoming more reliant on HoloLens. According to Koichi, the company is “confident that HoloLens will dramatically change the way we work, and we will keep finding more ways to use it.”

Multi-Industry Appeal

Microsoft’s mixed-reality offering—the HoloLens hardware backed by the software of Dynamics 365—has proven a compelling value proposition in the car business. Many of Toyota’s competitors, from Ford to Renault, are already committed users. Interestingly, however, the appeal doesn’t stop with a single vertical or even a single sector of the economy.

The auto industry is the best-represented—though by no means the only—sector among HoloLens’ adherents. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)
The auto industry is the best-represented—though by no means the only—sector among HoloLens’ adherents. (Image courtesy of Microsoft.)

Nadella identified several heavyweights from industries like heavy equipment (Komatsu), energy (Chevron) and industrial engineering (Thyssenkrupp) that are all early adopters of Dynamics 365 and HoloLens. Regardless of market segment, he noted that every company is in the software business going forward. Toyota’s decision to jump on the bandwagon is the latest indication that AR/VR technology is going to play a major role in the continued march toward digitization.

For an interesting look at how AR is changing another specific industry, check out the following project on engineering.com’s ProjectBoard.

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