In the right setting, mixed reality devices such as Microsoft's HoloLens 2 can be an eye-opening experience that borders on the magical. Blending our physical world with relevant digital information and objects opens the door to a host of enterprise use-cases that can create new efficiencies for field-based workers.
However, it must be pointed out that the magic of mixed reality can quickly evaporate if users attempt to operate HoloLens in locations that cannot deliver the wireless performance demanded by the technology.
For businesses looking to deploy Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the associated Dynamics 365 Remote Assist platform that HoloLens operates on, understand that the wireless infrastructure is just as important as the groundbreaking mixed reality technologies operating on top of it. Let’s learn a bit more about Microsoft’s mixed reality offerings and how Celona can provide the necessary wireless performance with which HoloLens use-cases can flourish.
A key differentiator that sets mixed reality communications tools apart from standard video conferencing is that mixed reality incorporates the physical world into the equation from a spatial environment perspective. Users of the hands-free devices allow wearers and remote viewers to see and interact with digital objects within the physical space they are operating.
For most, HoloLens 2 is a way for front line workers to collaborate with remote teams to create new levels of task or process efficiencies. It allows teams to troubleshoot and solve problems as if the entire team were occupying the same space – a luxury that may be impossible in certain environments or when operating equipment located in tight quarters.
A perfect use-case example for HoloLens 2 is when a new employee requires training on a piece of complex industrial equipment that only allows one technician at a time to operate. With HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, a training session can involve a walkthrough by a remote engineer well versed in how to operate the equipment. Using a combination of streaming voice and video along with the ability for the remote engineer to add digital labels and interactive process tasks into the physical world can dramatically speed up the time it takes to train and certify new employees.
It’s important to keep in mind that most enterprise mixed reality use cases require the need for HoloLens devices to be mobile – operating wherever they are needed in the field. The ideal connectivity for mobile devices is to deploy a wireless network with which HoloLens 2 head worn devices can connect. According to Microsoft’s documentation on Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, HoloLens 2 devices must meet a variety of network conditions including bandwidth, latency, jitter, and packet loss rates.
If the appropriate level of performance conditions cannot be met, HoloLens 2 devices on the Dynamics 365 platform might experience feature degradation creating a situation where certain critical features will not be available when needed.
This highlights the fragility of real-time communication and mixed reality technologies. It also points to the importance of properly vetting whether a wireless network can provide the necessary level of performance needed to operate bandwidth- and latency-sensitive tools like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist.
The demand for high-performing and consistent connectivity experiences creates a serious challenge for these types of mixed reality communications tools. In many of the locations and harsh environments where relevant use-cases exist, Wi-Fi may be difficult to deploy and operate. Common Wi-Fi environmental problems include wireless signal dead spots, unlicensed spectrum congestion and the inability to provide preferential Celona network transport for bandwidth and latency/jitter sensitive data streams.
A Celona private LTE or 5G radio access network (RAN) is the ideal wireless foundation for mobile mixed reality devices including HoloLens 2. Because fewer Celona access points are required compared to Wi-FI, a LTE/5G wireless is vastly easier to deploy in harsh indoor or outdoor environments. This means that the likelihood of dead spots is greatly minimized. Additionally, because Celona RANs operate on the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum that requires the business to register their use of general authorized access (GAA) spectrum, it means that the Celona private mobile network is clean and free from any external interference.
Onboarding HoloLens 2 devices onto a Celona RAN is simply a matter of connecting an LTE/5G USB adapter to the USB-C port that comes with each headset. Because the technology operates on a modified version of Windows 10, the number of LTE/5G compatible modems is extensive.
For additional details on how Microsoft HoloLens can be connected to a Celona private mobile network, see our configuration guide here.
Once HoloLens 2 devices are successfully connected to the Celona RAN, the final step is to identify the traffic on the wireless network. The traffic can then be grouped and prioritized from a bandwidth, latency and packet drop perspective using Celona’s unique MicroSlicing™ technology as shown here:
The combination of improved signal coverage, uncongested spectrum and the enforcement of strict quality of service (QoS) policy is how Celona can help Microsoft HoloLens 2 and other mixed reality tools reach their full (and sometimes magical) potential.
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