Virtual reality (VR) is poised to disruptively change your job and life. Ford just provided me demonstrations and briefings on how they are using VR technology today and their vision of the future. What I saw and learned is shocking.
VR is a computer generated 3D environment. Ford sat me in a chair connected to their latest VR technology. I was shocked when I began experiencing motion sickness, the VR generated sensation of soaring around 3D office towers inside a futuristic urban vehicle was that real. My brain kept saying it was not real. That I am sitting in a chair. My senses and stomach were convinced otherwise.
That is where VR is today. For laypeople, VR is a really cool amusement. Now imagine being able to actually drive a vehicle through VR. That is where we are heading in terms of our lives, economy and the environment.
How Ford uses VR to increase human productivity and safety
Ford demonstrated how they are using VR manufacturing technology to increase human productivity and safety on the assembly line.
The process begins with the accumulation of big data. The big data is generated by placing full body motion capture sensors on a work associate. When the associate executes an assembly line task the body motion sensors covert it into digital data.
This digital representation of human motion is then inserted into algorithms of human ergonomics best practices. The algorithms identify actions with increased risk for injury or that can be re-engineered to increased productivity. For example, a human picking up an object and raising it above eye level creates injury risks. It is also inefficient. Ford uses VR tech to identify, and then engineer, alternative actions by humans and machines.
The results are impressive. Ford claims reducing work associate injuries by 70%. This was achieved through a 90% reduction in overextended movements, difficult hand clearance and hard to install parts. Deployment of VR manufacturing technologies have reduced days away from work due to injury by 75%.
VR now enables Ford’s decision making
Ford is using VR to hold meetings to engage associates across regions and disciplines. For example, Ford’s design team members are located around the world. They now conduct meetings in a VR generated 3D environment. They collaborate using a 3D car image that is as visually real and detailed as seeing it in person. Even better, the VR technology allows for each car part to be viewed in the same detail as if it were laying on a table in front of meeting participants.
Ford is also using VR to accelerate executive decision making. When a vehicle’s design is ready for senior officer examination it is done in a virtual reality environment.
This VR communication and decision making process is slashing Ford’s product design times while also increasing innovation. Ford has moved design and decision making from the speed of clay models to the speed of electrons.
The VR revolution will disruptively grow the triple bottom line
It is only a question of time before VR’s declining costs and increasing capabilities reshape what humans do, how we make money and our impacts on the environment.
Here are three examples:
Entertainment. VR will eliminate driving to theme parks to ride a roller coast. Imagine renting on Netflix or Amazon the thrill of any roller coast in the world. You will enjoy the ride in your living room’s VR entertainment chair. This will kill amusement park worker jobs. It will generate jobs in the VR entertainment industry. It will reduce environmental impacts by reducing car trip emissions and theme park energy consumption/waste streams.
Travel. VR will compete against the travel and hospitality industries. Today’s business travelers will be able to engage work associates, suppliers or sales prospects through tomorrow’s VR environment. Product demonstrations in VR will be even better than in the physical world because every component part will be available for 3D examination without disassembly.
Office. Why go to the office if you have an office avatar you can use from your home’s VR enabled chair? Imagine no more commuting. In fact, imagine working not in a urban city but from your lakeside cottage.
Disruption in Earth 2017
Disruption defines Earth in 2017. Human consumption tied to 20th century technologies has generated global warming and a national weight crises. These costs are constraining economic growth and causing illness, injury and death.
21st century technologies like VR are poised to solve the mega problems created from using 20th century technologies. VR will accelerate economic growth by lowering costs and increasing productivity. Learning, enabled by VR, will make us safer. Integrated into our work processes and lifestyles, VR will reduce pollution.
But disruptive technologies like VR, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will challenge our social system. Their destructive change impacts will both create and destroy jobs. Their destructive change impacts could end up further dividing us between those who benefit and those who are crushed.
Fundamentally, the challenge of Earth 2017 is not technology. The challenge is human behavior. The truly disruptive question is whether as humans we can use technology advances to the combined benefit of people, planet and profit.
About the author
Bill Roth is a clean tech pioneer who led the team that launched the first hydrogen fueled Prius. He is a featured contributor on Triple Pundit and Latin Business Today. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, has been used by thousands of business people to implement proven green best practices that make money and a difference. Bill’s latest book, The Boomer Generation Diet, is his personal story on how to achieve sustained weight loss while still having fun and living more. The book’s ten customizable best practices are the sustainable solutions to our national weight crisis that threatens our health and medical cost bankruptcy.