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Airbus Focuses On Mixed Reality To Innovate The Process Of Customizing Aircraft Interiors

Airbus Immersive Remote Collaboration Concept. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus announced at the Paris Air Show 2023 that it will take digital collaboration to a new dimension by developing new mixed reality technologies to customize aircraft interiors, transforming the way aircraft cabins are defined and enabling live and remote interactions with customers in an immersive virtual world.

Catherine Jestin, Executive Vice President Digital and Information Management at Airbus, said:

“We are harnessing the power of data and cutting-edge technologies to create engaging, interactive and realistic virtual experiences for our customers, accessible anytime, anywhere in the world.”

Using holograms in a 3D environment, users will be able to see and test cabin equipment choices in real time, wherever they are. This new solution, called Airbus Immersive Remote Collaboration, is expected to be industrialized on the A320 Family by 2025.

Airbus is working with the most advanced players in the industry, such as Unity Technologies, developer of the Unity graphics engine, which enables the development of architectural visualizations or 3D animations in real time.

What is Mixed Reality and what are the benefits?

Mixed Reality is the blending of physical and virtual reality to produce new environments and visualizations in which virtual and physical objects coexist and interact with each other in real time. Famous examples of other companies that have developed visors for Mixed Reality are Microsoft with HoloLens and Meta with MetaQuest. However, some smartphone applications have also already been using this technology for a few years such as IKEA Place and Pokemon GO.

Microsoft’s Hololens 2 has been validated for industrial use at Airbus, and through the semi-transparent screen operators can see a holographic representation of the task at hand. They can also document their activities directly through the installed software; by virtually pressing a button, the system recognizes that a work step has been completed.

One of the main benefits of using Mixed Reality for both end users and businesses is precisely the immersive experience it provides, in which virtual objects appear to interact with the physical world around them. This creates a sense of presence that can be very immersive and realistic. Also the ability they have for users to interact with virtual objects in a natural way, using gestures and body movements.

Mixed Reality also offers great savings in time and money since remote collaboration between work teams is possible, allowing people in different locations to work together on complex projects in real time.

Virtual reality is already being used by Airbus, mainly in the design phase and during product assembly, such as at the Airbus plant in Getafe, Spain, where A330s are converted to MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). At this plant, Mixed Reality has been used to complete 70 percent of work orders since 2019, mainly for electrical and hydraulic installations.

Mixed Reality has entered the aerospace industry, paving the way for an increasingly digital and advanced future. In this context, the entire industry will have to adapt to the frenetic pace of technology, as digitalization does not wait for anyone. As the digital revolution continues, the adoption of advanced tools such as Mixed Reality will be essential to remain competitive in an ever-changing marketplace.

Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
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Author

  • Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo

    Vincenzo graduated in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering with an aeronautical curriculum, focusing his thesis on Human Factors in aircraft maintenance. In 2022 he pursued his master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Palermo, Italy. He combines his journalistic activities with his work as a Reliability Engineer at Zetalab.

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