Opinion: HoloLens 2 and RealWear


RealWear HMT-1 and HoloLens 2 are Companion Platforms to Enhance Safety and Productivity

Post Summary

  • Congratulations to Microsoft HoloLens team on the HoloLens 2 for enterprise!
  • HoloLens and RealWear HMT-1 are great companion products.
  • The Microsoft HoloLens 2 is focused on Basic Digital Training in safe environments, contextualized in the real world.  (Digital focus first, real-world focus second.)
  • The RealWear HMT-1 and HMT-1Z1 hands-free, voice operated head-mounted tablet computers are focused on Advanced In-Situation Training in rugged and potentially dangerous, real-world environments.  (Real-world focus first, digital focus second.)

Congratulations to the HoloLens 2 team for building what may be the best platform for enabling immersive training & 3D visualization.

At RealWear, we believe Microsoft’s HoloLens 2’s singular focus on enterprise, including increased field of view (FOV) and better user interface (UI) will result in the best visualization tool the world has ever seen.

We expect the HoloLens 2 to improve the basic training of workers in controlled, safe environments. We’re thrilled to join Microsoft and others in accelerating enterprise Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0.  The Microsoft announcement is good news. We look forward to advancing the field together.

Training versus Work

I am often asked about the comparison between the HoloLens and HMT-1. Simply stated, both products are built for different phases of training and are therefore used very differently.  Both are the safest method of training, when they are used in the right setting. And often, the two systems are used together in sequenced training.  First, a worker is trained digitally with the HoloLens. Next, the worker is aided in the field with the hands-free HMT-1 heads-up display.

In field service, training always starts with the basics.  In the military, this is called “A-School” training and in the trades this is called “Apprentice” training.

HoloLens 2 Complements RealWear HMT-1 and Vice Versa to Accelerate Digital Transformation
Safety First: HoloLens 2 Complements RealWear HMT-1 In Situation to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Learning to Fly

Take, for example, a new student learning to fly. 

In this analogy, the first few days of training are spent on a flight simulator, where all inputs are digital.  This allows the student to understand the basic layout of controls, represented by digital artifacts.  This gives students a controlled, safe training environment.

Upon completion of basic flight school, a student is tested and, if he or she passes, awarded a private pilot license. These individuals can now fly a plane by themselves and are pilots.

While flying, the pilot’s attention should be nearly 100% on reality, not on a digital world. 

When approaching a new airport for the first time, the new pilot needs to know the radio frequency of approach control, the descent altitude, and at what vector.

This type of in-situation information is best received via a “Head-Up” display (HUD) as opposed to an immersive experience. This helps to ensure that the pilot stays safe as they are given these “snacks” of information, such as “112.3 MHz”.

At RealWear, we are focused on maintenance workers and operators, not pilots, but the pilot analogy applies. 

When training new crane operators, for instance, one does not want the safety risk of dropping the very first load they lift when basic training can be effectively accomplished through a VR / AR system.  Likewise, once the operator is qualified or certified, you want your operator’s full focus on reality first, digital second to stay as safe as humanly possible in that situation.

It’s easy to see the differences among different types of training that use digital tools. Just watch what the trainee does. For instance, does the trainee focus predominantly on digital or simulated elements? Or is the industrial worker fully qualified and, in-situation, requiring a “snack” of information, such as the color of the next wire to clip or the number of the next valve to open?  The most important aspect of knowledge transfer from digital tools in these environments is that they are effective and safe.

Part of the potential confusion are that the “snacks” of information do not generally excite the layperson.  Trade Show attendees may not be qualified on basic industrial skills of trade and therefore are more inclined to get excited by the “flight simulator” style of training because it suits where our knowledge is at (and on top of that, it looks really cool).  However, in a nuclear power plant or on an oil platform in the north Atlantic, conveying knowledge in a cool way never outweighs safety first. 

I speak from my own personal experiences. I began my career working in maintenance, repair and operations as an Electronics Technician in the US Navy.  I spent 11 years on active duty and 10 years in the reserves working on nuclear power plants and on a variety of other complex military systems. In addition to my military service, I spent a decade as an executive in operations, first at Tyco and then as the Chief Engineer for Electronic Warfare Systems at Raytheon. After Raytheon, I founded both DAQRI and RealWear, an immersive AR and heads-up display computer company, respectively.  Therefore, I understand the value and differences of both training systems.

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