California utility company PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) is the latest company hoping to take advantage of virtual reality.
Fortune reports PG&E is partnering up with Space-Time Insight to develop VR-powered ways to put technicians to work in a safe, more efficient way. The company provides electricity and gas to nearly 16 million people and it takes approximately 20,000 employees to deliver that energy. In a system that covers such a large area (150,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines), and is crucial to so many people, the smallest glitches can be devastating. Normally a tech would have to head to a substation to sort things out, but PG&E envisions a future where a technician might be able to put on a VR headset to help diagnose the problem. This is not only a faster action, it lowers the risk of technicians getting hurt when getting hands on with electrical equipment. Space-Time is crucial to implementing such an idea, having created a tool available on Oculus Rift built on the company’s data crunching and analytics.
“Conduct a virtual walk-through of a substation with malfunctioning equipment. Advanced analytics along your route notify you of specific issues and recommended remedies,” Space-Time’s Website reads.
Only one substation has been recreated in 3D by Space-Time Insight, according to the report. It’s also only one kind of mixed reality solution. ThyssenKrupp AG, one of the largest suppliers of elevators, recently partnered with Microsoft to equip their technicians with HoloLens. This allows for efficient analysis and repair while also allowing tech support through the HoloLens device while staying hands on with their task. Plans such as these have the potential to increase efficiency and improve the infrastructure of countless companies that are crucial to our day to day lives.