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How XR / Spatial Computing is Changing the Business World

When Businesses think of Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality, they mistakenly think of the Metaverse with a whimsical virtual land populated by animated characters who run around playing games – with some real-life users suffering from motion sickness. That’s a mistake – like associating computers with only World of Warcraft  – that overlooking all the wonderful innovations for manufacturing, logistics, remote work, productivity, finance, biotech, logistics, email, etc.

You should instead be thinking of XR / Spatial Computing with AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and MR (Mixed Reality) plus related technologies including 3D visualization, computer vision, sensor mapping, holograms, haptics, etc.

XR / Spatial Computing is already making critical business impacts that are fundamentally impossible for previous technologies to achieve – to make innovation more rewarding and meaningfully improve outcomes.

Aircraft maintenance is a mind-boggling puzzle of wires, software systems, and thousands of parts. It requires hundreds of hours of intense training, compliance checks, and even then, things can go wrong. Just last week, March 29th, Boeing had to make an emergency stop on a flight from San Francisco to Paris because of engine issues. All great business innovations start with solving a problem. And this problem is costing Boeing billions in brand equity. They know it, and that’s why they’ve started the transition of investing increasing capital into Augmented Reality applications to enhance compliance, maintenance, and production.

Boeing is building their own in house platform for employee training (pictured below), and working with companies like Hololight for visualizations during aerospace design, and InfiVR to bring AR into their maintance processes. According to Boeing, the technicians using Microsoft HoloLens are improving the accuracy of wiring harnesses throughout the aircraft by an impressive 30%. This technology is replacing the “20-foot-long paper diagrams” previously used.

employee using AR for airplane maintenance

If you’d like a visual example, you can see an aerospace designer using Hololight to drag-and-drop the 3D model from out of their computer screen and into their headset –  Similar to airdropping a photo from a smartphone to a computer.

Airbus also reports that by having holographic information floating in front of the eyes of their technicians in real time, the level of error is significantly reduced during maintance. You can logically connect the dots to understand how Augmented Reality glasses infused with AI smart cameras will continue to help the 780,000 maintenance technicians Boeing and Airbus have determined will be needed to service the aviation industry’s worldwide fleet over the next decade.

Aircraft assembly leaves no room for error. One particularly challenging area is electrical wiring. But here’s how the future works. Instead of relying on cumbersome physical diagrams, and iPad checklists, technicians use Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets for their on-floor tasks. Freeing their hands and enhancing their mental. These AR devices overlay holographic wiring instructions directly on the aircraft, increasing production speed by a staggering 33%, boosting accuracy, and saving millions per jet by reducing manufacturing mistakes.

While most corporations are sitting on their hands, Meta, Microsoft, and Apple are taking notice of the broad spectrum of AR/VR applications. These are trillion-dollar companies, the best in the world to follow as examples. They understand AR/VR will impact tens of millions of jobs over the next decade across Aerospace, Gaming, Logistics, Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, Automotive, Retail, Healthcare, plus Security & Defense.

Overlooking the first major hardware disruption of the 1970s, computers, was a critical error for the largest companies of the day. The innovators’ dilemma birthed deep inaction, and a failure to recognize disruption. If three of the elite trillion-dollar companies are leading to charge into a new computing paradigm, then every other conglomerate should care, too

BP (British Petroleum) remembers in the 1980’s when 50%+ of the top ten large cap companies in the world came from their industry (Exxon, Shell, Chevron, Mobil, Texaco, Phillips, Gulf Oil). So it’s no wonder these energy companies are adopting XR in 2024. Disasters like the Deepwater Horizon spill were a major wake-up call for proper oil rig maintenance. BP is teaming up with innovators like Fieldbit – recently acquired by HelpLightening – to use smart glasses to prevent oil spills (The Journal of Petroleum Technology). Imagine field technicians wearing AR glasses, connecting with experts anywhere in the world for real-time troubleshooting – no more waiting for backup ! This is how you catch problems before they turn into costly disasters.

Inevitably a disaster will happen, but the BP crew will at least be prepared by having ‘experienced’ the disaster in VR before it’s occurred in real life. Using products like InfiVR’s Fire Emergency product workers ensure they know how to initiate a safe evacuation from offshore rigs.

XR capabilities are proving critically important for managing the billions of dollars of infrastructure for aerospace and utilities.

By reducing the number of errors across the millions of square feet we reserve for our most important Cap Ex instalments, these Utility businesses minimize the need for employees to double back for repeat visits to maintance sites, and those profits get pushed to their bottom line. XR technology is also making impacts across retail, automotive, healthcare, and logistics.

Unilever, a giant in the consumer goods sector, reports a 50% reduction in average downtime at facilities utilizing AR tools for remote assistance. This achievement is made possible by Scope AR’s WorkLink Platform, an innovative blend of Augmented Reality work instructions and remote expert guidance.

Technicians equipped with AR glasses or tablets can connect with experts instantly, receiving repair guidance through visual overlays and real-time digital manuals, significantly boosting Unilever’s production efficiency and bottom line.

Toshiba has also measured an improved time-to-performance for new trainees utilizing AR in the field, indicating AR’s significant impact on an employee’s ability to get up to speed, and do the job correctly. Toshiba found such value from using AR that they launched their own pair of industrial grade smart glasses. Toshiba’s dynaEdge™ AR Smart Glasses are a wearable, hands-free Augmented Reality solution, that enable real-time Document Retrieval, Workflow Instructions and Data Capture.

Mercedes-Benz did a great job of taking their visualization technology out of the warehouse and onto the showroom floor. The Mercedes-Benz adVANce roadshow utilizes a mix of Magic Leap headsets to showcase their future vehicle visions, leaving the customer with knowledge about a new standard in automotive marketing.

Walmart has embraced VR for training, resulting in a 15% increase in training pass rates and improved employee retention. This innovative approach to training covers customer interactions to inventory management, offering a more effective and engaging method than traditional on boarding. Walmart further utilizes VR in leadership development, selecting candidates based on their performance in realistic VR simulations.

Just this month we saw for the first time ever an Apple Vision Pro headset used in the surgical room for joint replacement surgery thanks to a small startup named one)

It ain’t stopping there. Brand new innovations are on the way, like myMako app for Apple Vision Pro which can be used with robot-assisted knee and hip surgery.

Established leaders, like Johnson & Johnson, are partnering with Osso VR to provide simulated, immersive, hands-on training for complex procedures. This approach allows surgeons to practice in a risk-free environment, enhancing skill acquisition and confidence in performing surgeries. The use of VR in medical training exemplifies the AR/VR potential.

This isn’t just about theory! J&J’s VR program leads to faster learning, develops muscle memory, and gives surgeons the opportunity to master the latest surgical tools. Sandra Humbles, VP of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices, says, “VR can help surgeons learn new procedures faster than traditional teaching methods.”


The results speak for themselves. The pilot project was a resounding success. Workers equipped with AR smart glasses saw a stunning 25% increase in efficiency while picking orders. The technology guides them directly to the correct items, displays quantities, and drastically reduces errors. As Jan-Willem De Jong of DHL Supply Chain states, “Vision picking enables hands-free order picking and greatly increases productivity…this is just the first step in our innovation journey.”

TVS is one of the worlds 1,500 most valuable companies. They don’t have time to play around. Assembling and packaging bike parts for international markets demands precision. Mistakes lead to costly fixes and dissatisfied clients. TVS realized traditional training methods weren’t the best fit for their employees, because conducting hands-on training with limited physical parts was a challenge. That’s where the power of virtual reality came in.

Photo: AutoVRse website

TVS took a bold step, partnering with AutoVRse to build a 3D training application tailored to their specific needs. By creating detailed 3D models of bike components, TVS employees could interact with and examine each part as if it were right in front of them. This immersive approach helped them learn the intricacies of assembly and identification far more effectively than manuals or limited demonstrations. The result ? Employees were better equipped for their jobs, errors decreased, and TVS saw significant improvements in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

There’s Billions of Dollars of Innovation Happening

We’ve only scratched the surface of the thousands of startups across the globe who are supplying large conglomerates with Spatial Computing advantages for their business. With trillions of dollars of market cap involved in supplying these new Spatial Computing solutions, it’s cool to these traditional companies working with startups find ROI.

The Need for AR/VR Awareness in Business

How come this isn’t reported on ?  How come so few executives understand the true value and potential of XR / Spatial Computing for their business ?

Why ?  Because these are newer technologies and the ongoing challenges in enterprises to innovate for impact with new digital capabilities that change processes, create new value, can be disruptive, adapting the culture to be more entrepreneurial, reward learning, having a portfolio perspective, etc.  With this being a new mindset, all the best in extending your business capabilities and extending the current thinking to better manage change and the changing nature of risk. If interested in fast tracking evolution to develop these new competencies –

  1. Learn about “ Innovating for Impact “ at and other sources
  2. Engage with “ Thought Leaders “ about future scenarios for your organization
  3. Identify and collaborate with startups with a solution that has the potential to meaningfully improve outcomes

April 12, 2024         By Don Stein / CAIL         CAIL Innovation commentary                          905-940-9000