Microsoft Guides, the next step in training and guidance with Mixed Reality

Alexander Meijers explains in his blog of May 18 2020, the next step in training and guidance with Mixed Reality.

It is more than 4 years ago that Microsoft came with the first release of Microsoft HoloLens device in the world of Mixed Reality. It took some time before Microsoft released several out-of-the-box applications for businesses. And they are ruling the Mixed Reality landscape since then. Their focus stays continuously on providing solutions which addresses the most common challenges for businesses.

Business challenges

One of these business challenges is training personnel. Training personnel in organizations require a lot of effort from experts on the workforce. And with a large staff turnover, something which happens a lot on the factory floor, is training a costly part of their business. But even keeping your workforce up-to-date with the latest requirements for training, or to prep students on school for what is coming or getting more insights by combining it with for example a Digital Twin will improve, support and saving costs for your organization allowing you to drive better business.

It is important for organizations to understand the business value of Microsoft Guides. Eventually organizations want to empower their workforce, optimize digital operations and deliver new services internally or externally to their customers. And that will result in a different way of thinking within manufacturing, training, support and guidance of employees.

Microsoft Guides

Microsoft Guides is a Mixed Reality business application which allows you to create a tailor made guide for employees on the factory floor. It allows you to create holographic work instructions which support a whole or part of the work flow. There are absolutely no coding skills requires for creating these Mixed Reality guides.

Microsoft Guides is part of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 family and therefor actually called Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides. It uses the base storage system of Dynamics 365, its underlying Common Data Service and Power Apps to store its flow and content.

The solution works for Microsoft HoloLens 1 and 2. But understandable it is extended based on the new functionality provided by Microsoft HoloLens 2 like natural gestures and other. The natural gestures are currently only used for the author when building guide.

Since then the Microsoft Team responsible for Microsoft Guides is extending the functionality of the application and its platform on a monthly basis. They are keen on getting feedback from customers, MVP’s and consultants. And they take the feedback seriously.

How does it work?

In short a guide is created by an author. The author starts outlining a guide into different tasks using a desktop application. Outlining is based on requirements of the customer and the guidelines of building a guide. Then the author switches to the Microsoft HoloLens 2 device. There the guide is attached to for example an object in the real physical world by editing each task of the outlines. This is accomplished by moving, placing, sizing and rotating the holograms around in the real physical world. Adding additional holographic instructions like arrows, hands and more.

An operator logs in Microsoft Guides and select the guide. The operator needs to synchronize his training using a tag or positioning a holographic object on the object in the real world. After this the guide is executed through the outlines and tasks. The operator experiences the cards with the steps explained floating around. A tether (dotted line) is used to indicate where the step needs to be executed on the real assets. Finally the author is able to monitor and analyse the progress and execution. It allows the author to improve the guides and support the operator in improving their skills.

Different approaches

Microsoft Guides allows you to use different approaches.

  • Real-life assets– This is the best way of having hands-on training for employees. The guide is synchronized on a real-life object using a tag or holographic object.
  • Virtual assets – guides with virtual assets allow you to have education or training without the actual real-life asset. The asset is digitally placed as a holographic object in each task. This is specifically interesting in situations where you are not able to have the actual asset. It is also a more passive way of training since you are not able to execute the tasks on the real-life asset.
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