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Mixed reality 2018 year in review (and what’s to come in 2019)

Hi everyone!

I hope this month’s blog finds you well. Before we dive in, I wanted to take a quick moment to wish you all a happy holiday season and a great end to 2018. May the next few weeks bring you an abundance of joy and time well spent with those closest to you.

As we come to the end of 2018, I’ve been reflecting on what an incredible year it’s been for mixed reality. Not just for the team at Microsoft, but for the developers, customers, and partners who have joined us on this journey.

The next year is going to be a big one for mixed reality—and below I will share some of what’s on my mind as we get ready for 2019. But first, let’s take a quick look back on 2018 and the year that was!

We ❤ MR

  • Dynamics 365 and MR have come together: Earlier this year, we shared a broad vision for business applications at Microsoft. As part of that, we focused quite a bit on why mixed reality has joined the Dynamics 365 family. Customers are at the center of Dynamics 365, and we see them reimagining their businesses to remove silos and leverage the vast amounts of data available across their organization in new, powerful ways. Mixed reality provides unique value because it helps employees visualize this powerful data in the context of their jobs, so they can produce greater impact for their organizations.
  • We launched Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout: I am very proud of our team for building and launching our first two mixed reality business applications! These two applications provide out-of-the-box value for our customers using Microsoft HoloLens and help address some of the unmet needs of Firstline Workers. Firstline Workers represent more than two billion people who are in roles that make them the first points of contact between a company and the world it serves. They are often the first to engage, the first to represent a company’s brand, and the first on the scene to address a problem. These two mixed reality solutions help our customers use technology to understand data in context to solve problems and make decisions more quickly.
  • HoloLens expanded to 41 markets and is available to rent: We made it easier to get your hands on HoloLens by expanding into the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, as well as making it available to rent in the US and Canada so companies can evaluate prior to purchase or temporarily increase their inventory to support tradeshows or events. We’re thrilled to work with many more customers and partners around the world!


Our partners ❤ MR!

  • Trimble’s Hard Hat Solution and Trimble Connect: Our long-term partner, Trimble, announced Trimble Connect for HoloLens and a new hard hat solution for HoloLens that improves the utility of mixed reality for practical field applications. Trimble has paid close attention to supporting HoloLens as a high-value tool for Firstline Workers and continues to increase their impact on the market.
  • CAE, Visual3D, TeraRecon, Pearson, and others deliver game-changing mixed reality healthcare solutions: From more insightful ultrasounds and new ways of learning to performing live surgeries using mixed reality, many healthcare companies are embracing mixed reality to transform the way they innovate and support and help others.
  • PTC and BAE use mixed reality to change the way employees learn: BAE Systems makes the electric propulsion systems for HybriDrive® buses. BAE is working with PTC, a Microsoft Mixed Reality Partner, using their ThingWorx Studio to create mixed reality solutions that dramatically improve the efficiency of Firstline Workers. BAE and PTC used ThingWorx Studio to easily create a guided, step-by-step training solution for HoloLens to teach workers how to assemble a green energy bus battery. Using these tools, BAE can now create guides for Firstline Workers in just a few hours at a tenth of the cost, training new people 30–40 percent more efficiently.

Our customers ❤ MR!

  • Chevron: Chevron is already achieving real, measurable results with its global HoloLens deployment. Previously they were required to fly in an inspector from Houston to a facility in Singapore once a month to inspect equipment. Using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, they can now put any inspector or expert anywhere in the world in under a minute.
  • ZF: A great way to see Remote Assist and Layout in action is through the work of ZF Group, a German car parts manufacturer headquartered in Friedrichshafen and an early partner on our journey. We have worked closely with ZF Group to ensure their valuable insight from Firstline Workers using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout are built directly into the product. In developing these apps with customers, we are not only looking to make great software—we’re looking to empower the Firstline Workers using the apps.
  • Toyota: With their mixed reality solution, Toyota can now take their existing 3D CAD data used in the vehicle design process and project it directly onto the vehicle for measurements, optimizing existing processes, and minimizing errors. This has transformed a process which previously took one to two days and multiple people to execute into a task requiring four hours and one person.
  • Mae Jemison and Defying Gravity: Women in Space: This year, Microsoft, Dr. Jemison, and Smithsonian Magazine joined forces with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to sound a rallying cry for representation and inclusion on Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day. They came together to create Defying Gravity: Women in Space, a mixed reality experience at the Intrepid that shares the stories of previously unsung women who’ve made critical contributions to the US space program.

What the future holds

Wow! What a year! As we look to 2019, I see so much opportunity for us to work with all of you to continue to define what the future of computing looks like with mixed reality. There are opportunities to reshape the way we work, learn, and visualize our world. Here are a few areas I am particularly excited about:

  • For many of our customers, equipment and processes are mission critical, and any downtime can have an enormous impact on their business, so ensuring employees are working safely and efficiently is paramount. With Microsoft HoloLens, employees can experience realistic 3D training at scale, and integrated with their existing productivity tools. This provides companies the flexibility to train their employees at lower costs but with high-quality results. This is an urgent area for customers as their workforce shifts, and we see huge opportunity with mixed reality.
  • Beyond Microsoft, the growth of mixed reality as a category this year has truly been inspiring. There are now more end points that allow people to visualize data in the context of the real world, whether that be through a headset or a mobile device. With Dynamics 365, we deeply understand a customer’s workflow and believe there are contextual mixed reality solutions that are relevant across all the devices they use in their work – and we’re going to make sure we’re ready to help.
  • Through the insights we’ve learned from our customers and partners about their industries and workflows, it’s clear to us that there’s an incredible opportunity to better connect their physical space into their business applications. We believe that our customers will benefit from real-time insights from sensors, IoT devices, and computer vision enabled devices. More to come here as we learn about the highest value scenarios.

Looking forward to working with you all in 2019!