VR Becoming Manufacturing Reality

April 10, 2018
While pop culture predicts VR will be the death of us, actual industrial use cases in research labs and industrial environments hint at its current potential: speeding design, boosting productivity, and giving workers more freedom.

Immersive virtual reality has been promised for a long time, and it’s made great leaps forward in the last few years. It first appeared in various forms throughout the 20th century, most visibly in science-fiction movies that posed the question: if we can escape to a virtual world, should we?

It’s the premise of Steven Spielberg’s latest futuristic popcorn romp, Ready Player One, and it’s a question manufacturing leadership should ask themselves.

Between the flashes of pop culture references and kinetic CGI battles, the question does sort of get answered in the movie. VR, like any tech, is not inherently good or bad; it all depends on how it’s used and how often. Unless you’re as cartoonishly evil as the CEO from the flick, we doubt your implementation of VR would be “bad,” but it could be unnecessary.

Strong industrial use cases exist right now for design and engineering, with CAD files and blueprints jumping off the screen (or you jumping into the screen) for you to manipulate. We are merely at the pioneer stage of exploring the new digital frontier, though, with a whole lot more to discover and invent. Here’s a quick rundown of where we’ve been and where we are now, which should give you an idea of what VR cases you should get a closer look.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor, Fleet Maintenance

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine where he served honorably aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723).