"Next Reality" Project
The term “Virtual Reality” (VR) describes an artificially generated environment with a high degree of immersion that gives the user the feeling of being part of the thing. “Augmented Reality” (AR) combines the real world with aspects of the virtual one, for example by adding additional information about real objects virtually. Can these concepts also be of interest to industrial companies outside of the entertainment industry and create real added value there?
As part of the “Next Reality” cooperation project, five research and 24 company partners came together under the leadership of the ecoplus Mechatronics Cluster and the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences to jointly build up know-how on VR/AR technologies and to implement them in specific applications. For this purpose, four different fields of application were defined in the corporate context: remote support, product presentation, education and training, production support. For example, providing instructions to service technicians who have to solve technical problems at a customer’s site; training new employees in virtual replicas of complex assembly arrangements; supporting production in view of the large number of variants in a model range; or the application of VR solutions to present customers with a solution that has not yet been physically realized. The project was supplemented by accompanying research from the field of labor and management science. The “Next Reality” project was co-financed by the Department Economy of the Province of Lower Austria.
In the course of the project, technical equipment for VR/AR applications was acquired and tested by the research partners. Software applications required for the use case were created. Much of this has already been implemented in the companies and has met with great approval by the employees involved. The accompanying business research documented changes in the company processes through the introduction of the VR/AR solutions and stimulated further thinking in the direction of extended business models.
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