ArcInsight Research

Immersive 3D Design & Collaboration in the Industrial Metaverse

ArcInsight Research Attends Demos and Chats With Industrial XR Players at AWE 2023

Following a epic 14 year run at Santa Clara, the Augmented World Expo (AWE) is moving to a new home in southern California at the Long Beach Convention Center. A global community of XR developers and enthusiasts gather for three flagship events held each year in the United States, Europe and Asia, in addition to numerous other special interest meetups and discussion sessions.

AWE founder and CEO Ori Inbar has done an excellent job shepherding the organization through its early years, when the widely attended event was mostly associated with gaming and other consumer media content providers and developers working on apps and devices to present them via augmented reality experiences.

The timing of the AWE event (whether coincidental or intentional) was interesting as well. Meta launched its Quest 3 mixed reality “metaverse” headset that very week. Apple is to release the new Reality One XR headset at its annual developer conference on Monday the next. Both chasing the top premium pricing pricepoint spot. We also hear Google, Samsung and Qualcomm are working on their own headset initiative with a yet-be-announced product. These will be interesting times for mixed reality content and app developers. To quote Hugo Swart who heads Qualcomm’s XR initiative – “Developers are the stars of the show here.”

Every year since we began attending the event 7 years ago, it has grown bigger, classier and more diverse with each edition.

The AWE USA 2023 edition made its attention grabbing open with a celebrity keynote by Neal Stephenson, novelist author but more well known today for coining a term describing a digital dimension of human existence where avatars roam. Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash fleshed out a space where digital displaced the physical, and gave it a name – “THE METAVERSE”. The vision of an ambient, persistent and immersive alt-reality remained science fiction for several years until the right portfolio of technologies began to mature just a few years ago and gave it real life as the next generation computing platform.
Instead of basking in this glory as a fiction writer, Stephenson decided to go into the metaverse business himself. Partnering with Peter Vessenes, the head of Bitcoin Foundation, launched his own company to create an open platform for creators to build an open metaverse. He strongly believes the metaverse should be sufficiently flexible to accommodate any number of different experiences and virtual realities. His mantra at the AWE keynote also pointed out that the existense of the metaverse is an absurd notion unless creators have a friction free and secure way of exchanging value.

Another impactful presentation in our opinion was by Apple, Google and AWS XR veteran Avi Bar-Zeev.
Avi Bar-Zeev has been at the forefront of XR and The Metaverse for over 30 years. He co-invented Microsoft Hololens in 2010, helped defined Amazon Echo Frames in 2015, and then contributed at Apple on undisclosed projects until 2019. His presentation shared the cautionary side of emerging technologies with his appropriately (we would argue, very honestly) titled session – “Separating Bullshit from Reality for XR, AI & The Metaverse.” According to him, Metaverses will behave like society does, as long as humans are involved. Products that carry less physical risk are invariably offset by lesser accountability and potential for harm. Moderation in any form will be perceived as “policing”.

Zeev’s new non-profit membership organization The XR Guild seeks to support XR professionals to achieve the most positive outcomes for humanity. His five principles for XR and AI are a good reminder of the true values developers must adhere to while embarking on building new products and experiences. Speaking technically, these five principles translate easily into “design-constraints” for product/platform/business-model creation.
– XR/AI must work for benefit of each person and with informed consent
– Creators should be able to make a living in a thriving ecosystem
– Those who benefit the most from a thriving ecosystem should be the one to pay for it
– Safety is non-negotiable and
– You can’t trust technology to solve anti-social human behavior.

We chose to make a special mention of the important role Qualcomm is playing to help mature the XR ecosystem and support developers by providing a hardware infrastructure and technology platform, and also inspiring ex-Qualcomm-ers to venture out and build XR startups themselves (We profile Campfire below). Qualcomm’s XR2 chipset powers most XR headsets, including Meta’s Quest. Presenters from Qualcomm including their head of XR technologies Hugo Swart took pains to describe how developers harness the power and purpose of a cross platform ecosystem through Snapdragon Spaces, an SDK (software developer kit) that Qualcomm introduced in 2021. Spaces also works with the Unity and Unreal Engine game development platforms.Using Spaces,developers can much more easily deploy applications against multiple devices

AWE 2023 made a sincere effort to bring in a less appreciated but vastly impactful category of XR players who serve enterprises and solve real problems of industry.

As an industry analyst studying the space of emerging industrial technologies and use-cases, ArcInsight Research took the opportunity to interact with an interesting cohort ranging from companies targeting problems on the industrial shop floor, the design labs and applications. They help customers manage error free product quality, the process of taking products from concept to reality, leverage earth observation imagery captured by Low orbit satellites now enabled through a synchronization with AR tools for better visualization of cityscape, vegetation and climate data and faster interpretation using AI capabilities with solving earth’s big problems such as climate change, feeding the growing humanity on this planet, even predict and warn against risks such as rising sea levels and animal extinction. The highly anticipated Auggie Awards of AWE 2023 reflected this too. We will cover more of this below.

The players came from United States, but a significant set were from Europe and Asia. Countries included Germany, Austria, Belgium, South Korea, Israel, India, and Spain. We profile a small set of XR players who we believe have what it takes to not only build robust industrial XR solutions. They have the intellectual, academic and research preparedness to survive the typical rigorous assessment that enterprises typically put them through before they are deployed on the field. Nevertheless, it is hard for developers to ignore the lure of working with well-funded giants willing to write big checks and give them a sizeable runway to deliver on their long term roadmap, even in a tough funding environment and steadily falling market valuations for startups in just about every market sector.

The highly anticipated AWE highlighted event, the AUGGIE AWARDS did not disappoint. With 16 categories of finalists, over 20 players got their chance in the spotlight. Almost all aspects of XR were covered well. Of the industrial/enterprise focused companies ArcInsight Research assessed on the Expo floor, we have profiled a few below that caught our attention for their current and future potential to deliver tremendous value on a large scale. We do hope they they stay focused on their strategy & roadmap, and execute consistently going forward.

Last but not the least, the AWE 2023 Auggie Awards launched a new category with a $10,000 award to highlight and encourage the work of unsung developers who created innovative evocative and impactful applications to support the climate change fight. This is a testament to the serious vision Ori Inbar and his team organizing the AWE event tirelessly around the world, have set out to chase for themselves. We believe this is the on category that will soon become the mainstream award of AWE. For those still unsure or sceptical of the climate change creeping quietly upon us, visit a few countries in South Asia during the onset of summer, the Middle East, the touristy alpine towns once a magnet for skiers now slowly reduced to snowless meadows, or the city of Venice during their routine “Acqua Alta” days. Or log on to your Apple TV+ account and watch this thought-provoking series “EXTRAPOLATIONS” that tangibilizes our real existence in a time of harsh climate change effects a few decades into the future. A must view series for the 15-18 year olds who might have to live through our emerging dystopian scenario.

But the companies that we interacted with at AWE sessions, mixers and the Expo give us good reason for hope and optimism as well. Take a look at them.

A finalist in the “Best Use of AI” category, Maxar Technologies is a space technology and earth observation company that designs and manufacture satellites and spacecraft components for communications, Earth observation imagery, exploration and on-orbit servicing and assembly. Its constellation of high-resolution imaging satellites and derived data layers, machine learning and rich domain knowledge helps customers map, detect and predict change across the globe. Maxar’s space-based satellite imagery and’s artificial intelligence are creating a digital twin of Earth and Unreal Engine 5 will bring it to life for developers. SYNTH3D delivers an earth digital twin, a high-performance, geotypical representation of the entire planet for virtual reality and metaverse applications developed in partnership with SYNTH3D contains the most current building vector database and vegetation coverage map, including semantic metadata, extracted from Maxar’s Vivid global cloudless satellite imagery basemaps, combined with’s unique texturing AI to transform Maxar’s 2D imagery into the stunning 3D visuals. Semantic information, metadata and material attributes for all objects are embedded—making it ready for simulation applications.

HOLO LIGHT’s AR 3S Augmented Reality Engineering Space
A finalist in the “Best Collaboration Tool” category, alongside the winner, Pfizer’s VR creation “Creating the Covid Vaccine at Lightspeed!”), Innsbruck-based Holo Light’s Augmented Reality Engineering Space offers a tool to streamline and optimize engineering workflows and collaboration, supported by XRnow, an enterprise-grade, centralized Industrial Metaverse platform for hosting, streaming, and scaling XR applications. The XR Streaming SDK helps developers create high-quality, immersive experiences by offloading the rendering process to the cloud or local servers. Live 3D Data Links easily integrate with any existing PLM/PDM data backends, storages or digital twin infrastructures. Built-in 3D Spaces allow collaboration with 3D context.

THREEDY’s instant3Dhub
Threedy demoed its platform technology instant3Dhub which facilitates flexibility to easy access and interaction with industrial 3D design data on any device instantly and build applications. Instant3DHub was incubated over 25 years of research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD in Darmstadt (Germany). Industrial 3D data and applications are often considered difficult to deal with due to the enormous interdependency and complexity of data size, algorithms and device capabilities in the IT and software environment. By connecting to 3D data sources and applications in a fully automated way, instand3DHub also allows cross-departmental collaboration from design, engineering, manufacturing and after-sales service while enabling complex and scalable visual computing tasks for almost any application scenario, platform and device.

We spent time with another Fraunhofer Institute spin-off, Visometry, a familiar presence at AWE events. Its offering is useful, powerful yet often misunderstood. Visometry’s Twyn is an intuitive, mobile AR platform for visual quality inspection using automatic object recognition and deviation detection based on 3D CAD data allowing manufacturers to meet production requirements and maintain quality standards consistently. We saw how Twyn Studio enables design and edit of inspection routines which can then be deployed to Twyn using its inbuilt GUI as a workflow, into comprehensive steps, from data import and optimisation, to defining inspection areas.

LEIA’s Lume Pad 2
A finalist in the “Best Interaction App” category, Leia’s booth displayed its impressive 3D Lume Pad featuring its accessible priced 3D tablet, the Lume Pad 2, which integrates ChatGPT and Dall-E for 3D image creation. Images literally jump off the flat screen and into the physical world. They seem to float a foot in front of the 12.4” screen. The stereo cameras on the front of the pad provide eye tracking, and also enable stereography, using a suite of Leia branded apps such as Leia Cam, Leia Player, Leia Tube, Leia Dream, Leia Pix, the Lume Tablet can convert both 2D images and video into 3D. We saw tremendous possibilities for Lume Pad to become a demo and training technology platform in industrial design settings, teaching hospitals, as well as demo settings.

Campfire demoed its remote collaboration platform for 3D design engineers and customers. The system has several components: the headset, magnetic tabletop strips, and a new kind of rubber floor tile that allows images to appear anchored around you. We observed how the Campfire app worked seamlessly across PCs, tablets, phones and headsets while not only examining static 3D equipment designs and their exploded BoMs, but also inserting simulated animations to oberve the same equipment in their dynamic states. Founded by a team that created the Vuforia platform at Qualcomm (now sold to PTC Technologies) Campfire certainly came across as a platform with potential to make design collaboration & review processes more effective.

METAVU’s Urban Data Management System
Based in South Korea, Metavu calls itself an Industrial Metaverse company solving industrial-grade problems using XR based solutions. The platform enables better site safety, a systemic work environment, better workflow efficiency, as well as prevent accidents, and allows faster response times should one take place. The company demoed us their XR Spatialized Urban Data Management System that allows integrated facility maintenance / management / analysis using core ICT technologies. Using core GIS technologies to map urban spaces, it then uses GPS and IoT sensors to enhance 3D visualization by layering additional features from data that often sits in other siloed databases within an enterprise, applying tilt by geographic features. Supporting both tablets and HoloLens, the Metavu platform enables detailed construction-site information inquiry, take notes of worksite’s situation, do photo capture of worksite’s situation, and measure distance & height through photogrammetry.

Founded by former Qualcomm, Apple, Broadcom and Texas Instruments engineers with combined experiences in omputer graphics, cloud computing, AI, wireless infrastructure, optical, mobile and software development, Grid Raster offers a shared software infrastructure for enterprise customers to build and run scalable, high-quality XR applications in public, private, and hybrid clouds; and deliver them on wireless mobile devices. The millimeter precision spatial mapping capability enables high fidelity 3D scene reconstruction, scene segmentation, and object recognition. This enables precise fusion of real and virtual worlds, with persistent overlay of real objects and their digital twins with 3D object tracking. GridRaster’s open architecture API-based approach uses standard APIs to input design models in their native format (Unity, Catia, AutoCad, etc.) as well as ensor data from devices (camera, depth, IMU), and converts them to the format for computations on the cloud.

SVARMONY’s visualizer
Svarmony CEO Arne Schoenleben explained to us how its “visualizer” offering enabled its optical metrology customer Carl Zeiss & chemicals company Linde to offer consultation and a customer experience demo using an AR app to place the virtual products into the real environment to explore them in all their diversity. The team also highlighted how Porsche uses the tool as a new employee orientation program complete with employee digital avatars presenting in a metaverse. Back in 2019 at Hannover Messe we also saw how Siemens used Svarmony’s visualizer to bring a virtual power transformer to the customer and show all its functions without bringing the physical product from A to B. An X-ray view into the device also made it possible to get to know the technical details in more detail and to provide trade fair visitors with all the relevant information all without having the transformer physically on site.

AJNA LENS’ AjnaVidya
A winner of the “Best Enterprise Solution” category Ajna Lens positions itself as an Immersive learning enabler targeted towards large customers in enterprise, defence and educational sectors. Its AjnaVidya platform features an advanced XR headset, digital 3D assets available from its NFT store to build training scenarios as well as an aggregation pool of talent to help its customers develop bespoke immersive training and simulation programs.

About the author: Praas Chaudhuri is a Silicon Valley based industry analyst & co-founder of ArcInsight Research Partners, a strategic research & advisory group focused on digital transformation driven by analytics, algorithms & pervasive connectivity.

Broad areas of research interest at ArcInsight Partners include – (1) Industrial-IoT enabled manufacturing & production process transformations. (2) Evolution of intelligent cities enabled by new mobility design, urban dynamics & renewables. (3) Emerging business trends enabled by SaaS models and new monetisation strategies.

Praas Chaudhuri spends a lot of time with executives at many interesting companies around the world discussing industry dynamics across sectors such as industrial equipment, transportation, process, healthcare & financial services, communications, agtech & mining, AI & computer vision, process control & IoT, as well as city managers & CIOs. He has written & presented on a wide range of strategic topics related to industry & vertical dynamics and on business related subject areas. He is also a frequent speaker & panelist at conferences & professional forums, and has published many research-based articles, white-papers and points-of-views.

A chemical engineer in his early years, Praas had a long stint as strategic management advisor with firms such as KPMG and Monitor, as well as at Hewlett-Packard, besides several early stage technology & bioinformatics companies. He has a bachelors degree in engineering, a MBA and a PhD. in decision sciences.

A Review of AWE USA 2023