Business Impact Of XR Training Simulations on Industrial Companies
Douglas Fajardo – CEO of Xennial Digital
I think we’ll go ahead and begin. Hello everyone and thank you all for coming to today’s webinar, my name is Max and I’ll be the host for the presentation. Please utilize the Q&A function for any questions you may have during the course of the presentation and our guest speaker will do his best to answer them at the end or if you have any questions during the presentation please don’t hesitate to throw those in the chat. Douglas leads Xennial Digital, a Miami based tech company focused on building XR platforms and solutions through virtual augmented and mixed reality technologies. Today he will be talking about how Argos, an international cement company, partnered with Xennial Digital to create a comprehensive VR training simulation that is helping the organization eliminate injury risks for its engineers, reduce the costs of training, and accelerate knowledge retention. Please welcome Douglas.
T you for the introduction. I like to start by sharing my screen. Just give me one second here. Can you guys see my screen? Somebody can acknowledge.
Yeah, we can see it.
OK perfect. So first of all, thank you everyone who’s participating. My name is Douglas Fajardo I’m the CEO of Xennial Digital. I like to have conversations as a matter of fact, so if at any point in time during my presentation any of you has a question, you know… I’ll be more than happy to have a discussion with you, explain everything in a little more detail. The idea here is to show you a little bit of what we’re doing and how we’re working with different, you know, with different types of technologies. Especially on the use case for easing international companies.
So, I’ll start by actually talking a little bit about our company and what we do just to give you a little bit of background on how we got to where we are. Our name is Xennial Digital, we are a three-year-old startup. Our focus has been on creating B2B solutions, as we work directly will corporations, higher education institutions, universities and colleges, as well as middle to high school institutions, as well. For these institutions we have been building quite a bit of different types of solutions using immersive technologies. Our team is very experienced and capable in all areas of universal technologies, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and as we’re seeing more and more adoption of Web AR and Web XR is where we see a really interesting transition there, from flat 2D web to immersive web. As a matter of fact, in about a month we’re going to be launching virtual reality version of our website, where everything that we do could be experienced in VR. Then the last thing is the areas of focus that we have selected for our.. for our… for our team. Within solutions and applications, very specifically for training, corporate training, skills development. So, everything around training people and different types of technical equipment, medical equipment. Education is a very strong area for us and we’re also seeing quite a bit of use cases in the sales area for both augmented reality as well as virtual reality. And at the end maybe if somebody wants to have a little conversation around what we’re doing sales, again, we have a couple of examples of opportunities that we’re about to close with the medical equipment companies.
Before we could actually implement anything in one of the biggest differentiators for our company in this… in this area, so of VR and AR and MR, has been the development of an enterprise platform. It will wear to focus only on content development. I think we will be one of, you know, probably hundreds of companies that are doing that type of work out there, but we wanted to differentiate ourselves by actually delivering an enterprise platform to which serve quite a bit of important and critical needs for our clients. So, we decided to create this platform as a way to deliver first and secure way to distribute the content, but also that allows to integrate with our client’s authentication systems and also be able to customize it based on their brand and so on. So, we’ve done quite a bit of implementations where we integrate, you know, with directory, different other authentication systems from learning management systems, and so on, so that we can, we can connect or the users or students can use their single sign on to be able to also access the content that we create for them.
The second piece, of course, it’s the content itself, will focus in quite a bit in building simulators or training simulators. A lot of labs as well. We build them in two different modes. One of them is the individual mode, so anybody can, you know, be, whether in an office, in a classroom, or at home learning remotely, you know we can deliver solutions to those headsets so that they can individually and offline, be able to consume that content. Our platform has a really key capability which allows, actually, an instructor to coming into the virtual reality environment at the same time, in real time, and be able to collaborate for real time instructions. We’re actually replicating what we do now in the physical world, but in virtual environments.
And then the third piece and the most critical one, at least for our clients, is to be able to actually gather performance metrics, assessment results, analytics, be able to create reports from all of the either individual users or from a group of users. So, this was a really key piece in terms of how being able to implement or deploy a lot of enterprise solutions has been because we have this comprehensive platform that allows us to do all the key things that they want, which is distributed content, create custom content, and the entire analytics and data from that content.
The platform has a lot of different features, but the ones that we focus on the most are three, in terms of when we work with our clients. As I mentioned to you guys, the real time multiuser collaboration is one of them. I would like to show your little bit of what something like that looks like. So I’m just going to access this YouTube. Sorry about this interruption. So, what you guys are seeing here, well, it’s actually also creating an aircraft ignition platform to train airplane mechanics. But what I wanted to show you here is what you guys see, these little avatars here, this is actually being done in real time, so we can have multiple people inside of this VR environments, collaborating, performing instruction, you know, supervision also that the technicians are actually learning what they’re supposed to learn. So, this is a really really key feature that a lot of our clients, you know, have really told us that this is, this is something that they really needed, especially now in the type of environment that we’re living in with COVID, where we need to basically create what we call in our in our area Digital Twins. It’s basically a replicate of real physical environments into the VR environments. I’m just going to close this one and I’m going to back to my presentation.
And then the other key feature that we have here also, it’s… we build all of these solutions for our clients, in a way which they can do guided mode. So, basically you either have like an avatar or you have some kind of voice. Then we see you through a process or a series of steps in order to perform a procedure, right? So that’s one of the ways in which we allow people to actually practice time and time again, in a locked process, so that they can really retain the knowledge of all of the things that they need to do to perform a certain procedure. And then the second piece, it’s the ability to do the training certification in free mode. What that allows us to actually do, that’s what we capture the data on the matrix or the analytics of what the users are doing. We capture all of their interactions. And that’s how we’re able to measure their performance, if they get it right, if there is any knowledge gaps, if they’re having issues with the contents, or we can do remediation practices on the user experience as well. So, those are the two types of modes that we are delivering right now into our client solutions.
And then the third piece that you see here that’s really key for us. It’s also multi language or platform can be delivered in a lot of different languages. One of the ones that we’re the most proud of. We work with a global nonprofit called The Nature Conservancy. Where we actually deployed a solution for indigenous farmers in Guatemala, they’re Mayans, or most of them are illiterate. So, with this solution we’re able to deliver Spanish and then three Mayan languages, and it allows them to create irrigation systems, to be able to recuperate the plants, so it’s become a really interesting case study because we have been able to replicate the way these farmers learn, which is by watching, by listening, and by doing. So anyway, I just wanted to show you because this is an important feature in how we can also deploy solutions at a global level, in terms so far of capturing international markets.
We’re technology agnostic. Our solutions can be delivered on the VR devices like the Oculus Quest platform. For standalone experiences, we can also deliver high enterprise but more computer-based experiences through HTC Vive and HP. We’re also doing some work on mobile AR, not as much, with it’s more limited in our opinion, especially for the type of experiences that we’re building and of course on the headset of mental reality, or mixed reality, which both terms are used for this type of devices when it comes to Magic Leap and HoloLens, we’re creating a lot of interesting solutions as well, especially in the medical field. But from our side we can really deploy and implement solutions on any type of VR device.
The other thing that we’re really excited about it’s worth coming in the future of VR. Of course, you know we have, you know, very, very immersive experiences where we use, you know these sound, the visuals, the 3D environments. But we have fixed accessories that are coming to the market like the Teslasuit Glove that you’re seeing right now on the screen. Will allow us to basically include all types of tactile experiences to the to the VR environments, where we’ll be able to, you know, have touch effects, resistance, textures, and things of that nature to be embedded into everything that we build, so it’s pretty great plus we can also capture a lot of biometric data from the sensors on the Glove, so we’re really, really excited about this type of accessories coming to market.
I’m going to then just go into the into the case story that we’re going to focus today, which is for international company Cementos Argos, so I’ll give you a little bit of background on our client. They’re a multinational data based in Colombia, but they have 13 cement plants across all of the Americas, including here in the U.S., they have running for distribution centers for the concrete production plants. As you guys can see they have a massive, a massive, I believe it’s about $5 billion in revenues, so it’s a massive company and one of the biggest pain points that the company had was actually being able to deploy training procedures in high-risk environments. So, they had a huge challenge doing that in all of their plants across their international markets. And the biggest challenges, as you guys can see here, is that they had to actually perform these high-risk training procedures. They had to shut down the plant which costs them, you know, 10s of thousands of dollars of productivity. Your piece is that all of these procedures are performed in concrete. In concrete cyclones that color this cycles that maybe temperatures of over 900 degrees. So, as you guys can imagine, something hits you and it can burn through your clothes, through your boots. Everything. It’s really, really hot environments. And of course, that would have a high risk of major injuries. So, with all of these, all of these limitations or restrictions to training actually being allowed them to do the kind of frequent training that they needed to do with their engineers, in order for them to be prepared, when an emergency of this nature actually came along, which is where the tanks, the cement tanks, actually get clogged. So, all of these were challenges, that they were looking to solve, from a training perspective.
So, we came up with, was a virtual reality training simulator. 43 key procedures when it comes to high-risk trainings. The first one is how to put all of your safety equipment and all of the processes, and how, and the steps that you need to put your safety equipment. The preparation of the tools that you need to use when you are unclogging the cement tanks. And of course, the procedure itself, from securing the area, or the way of going to it. It’s a plant that has about 10 floors. So, you have to go up to the fifth floor in order to perform the procedure. So, the procedure at the plants is pretty intensive.
So, the key requirements that we have from the client was that the experience in VR will be highly realistic. They really wanted their engineers to feel like they were there there, that they were at the plant, they were performing the procedure in the same way they do. The other piece was that it was easy to use. I mean, we, you know our end users are engineers. These are people that are just used to working in the field. These are not people that are always playing with PlayStation or X-Box or used to using control. So, we need to find the best way, to create a very simplified experience for them to interact with, and the third piece, which was also a key piece was, you know, are we actually creating some impact when it comes to training? So, we needed to capture a lot of analytics, from this specific solution.
So, in terms of the first requirement, when it comes to creating a highly realistic environment. The way in which we accomplished it, we actually went to the plant, the main plant, that’s similar model that’s replicated across all the different plants. So, we did a photography and video session of the entire plant from all different types of angles with drones, high end photography, high end video, and we actually use a process with a software called Photoparametry, where we can actually replicate the environments just as they are in real life, including all of the environment. As you guys can see, especially on the top photo here we have the mountains, and the sky in the back. This is exactly where most of the plans are located in Latin America, so it gave them a good sense of a real environment, in very realistic, for them to perform their training.
The second requirement was the ease of use. As I mentioned, most of these guys are non-gamers, so they’re not really used to technology as much. So, one of the things we did to simplify the way in which they would interact with objects, was actually used full-time recognition. So, as you guys can see, both in the top are in the small insert there as well as in the bottom photo. The headsets actually have a little device in the front for motion. Now a lot of the new devices this was implemented last year, so a lot of the new devices coming to market already have embedded sensors, so we can create hand recognition without any additional devices. For this experience, we use something called Leap Motion, so we’re able to do some recognition and with hand recognition with it, 2 interesting things that person was, we created hotspots as you guys can see in the top photo. Where there is kind of like feet or hot spots where they can point to with their open hand. Then they use kind of like a Spiderman effect to actually teleport to all of these different places. So, as they were teleporting, moving around these spaces, they use basically the virtual hands in order to grab their coats, their hats, equipment, anything that they needed in order to, you know, the tools and things of that nature, so this was a very interesting challenge for us to tackle in terms of how to create a full enterprise level experience or full hand recognition.
The third piece, as I mentioned, was the paid analytics. We also implemented our dual mode teacher from our platform into the solution, where we have the practice mode. So they had to expand on each of these environments, on the equipment environment, on the tool set up environment, and on independent environment. They had to go to a very locked process to learn everything they need to do and they needed to do it 3/4 times a week, in order to really get familiar with all, you know, there’s probably almost 100 steps in this entire procedure, so they needed to learn a lot. And of course, we had the free mode, which is what they would practice at the end of each month in order to… for us to do an assessment on how they were doing against the locked mode, right? So, we could capture like I mentioned, knowledge, jobs, steps they were missing, you know, using the wrong tools, and things of that nature. So, one of the key things, especially after three months, we did a full analysis of how this solution was impacting training with these engineers, and so we had a few roundtables, especially with their VP of safety, and he told us basically that now, you know, what the engineers would take a year to learn, they’re learning it in one month. So that was huge, huge improvement for the company and also in terms of knowledge retention and also if these procedures do, at some moment in time, need to be performed at the actual plant, they are better prepared to perform those procedures. And all of the data that we’re capturing from the assessment mode, we did a full integration with their learning management system, they used to sub SuccessFactors, so from there, like I mentioned, we integrated with their authentication system, so the engineers come in, they put in a code that ties their user ID with that profile in the element system, but then anything they are doing in that assessment mode, we’re capturing interactions like I mentioned, that they’re, you know, doing the right steps and so on. And they were able to then, the instructors and the executives are able to go in there, look at how an entire plant is performing or just a specific engineer, so that they can address all of those knowledge gaps that may exist after those assessments.
The results actually have been really interesting in terms of the key benefits. The first one and the most important is that because we have developed our replica in a full environment, where there is zero risks. Of course, there is no injuries that have been locations. As a matter of fact, there was an instance, I believe it was last year, where seven engineers actually die at a cement plant in Mexico, performing this exact procedure, because they didn’t do the procedure correctly, and one of tanks exploded. So, this is a super high waste procedure, so now we’ve eliminated completely that, the injury risk from it.
The second one was the cost savings. They’re saving now, you know, in the different plants, actually hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in terms of shutdowns that they don’t have to perform in the plants in order to do this high-risk training.
And the third piece is that, as I mentioned to you guys, will reduce the learning curve from 12 months to one month. So now not only is the training more effective, but it’s also more frequent and they have a higher retention of knowledge. And then we have the data to prove that which has been pretty incredible.
So, with that, maybe what I’d like to do is actually show you guys a couple of our videos of what the experience looks actually like. So let me just go over here to our YouTube channel. And I’ll take, I’ll just show you a few seconds from each of the different, each of the different modes. I’ll keep it in mute, in terms of the audio, because most of the instructions… this was first implemented in Spanish, so most of the captions that we did in Spanish, but you can see. So this is what we’re doing, we’re testing, so you guys can see, the hands pretty much moving in real time as you guys can see here, so we have the hot spot where, you know, the user is teleporting to the different areas. And then because we still don’t have the capability to see our body with VR, our entire body, we created a mirror, where as the engineers were putting all of their safety equipment, they could go back and forth in that mirror to ensure that they have all of the safety equipment placed on right, in order to perform the procedure. Let me get out of this one.
The second part, as well, it’s the part where they have to actually set up the different tools in order to, you know, before they go to the plants. So as you guys can see here, is we use exactly the same experience so they get used to, you know, teleporting themselves, using their hands, basically virtually touching components so they can put on their gloves. In this case, as you can see, you actually have to pull out the element of the component that you use in real time. They have a full free environment. In terms of the tools, because we wanted to use haptics, right? So we actually used, we actually used some of the controllers. So that they could feel vibrations that they could be able to knock or something, as if they were hammering something, and things of that nature. So, this was a… this was an interesting also way on how we use the controllers, but for very specific, for very specific interactions. So that’s a piece of the second part of the video.
The third one, unfortunately, the quality is not as great as I would like to show you guys, but… Basically what the… So, I just take you to a few frames here that are interesting. So, the first thing they do actually, once they get into the plants, they are able to have kind of like a communication device, where they set off the alarm and they also then have to secure the entire perimeter of the first floor, so nobody actually can access the third flow of the plants when they are performing this procedure, so they have to here teleport and secure the entire area. So that’s what they’re doing here and then at the end… let me show you guys. They actually have to… Then once they close and have secured the area, they actually, the same way which they do the plant, they have to move into an elevator, where they move all the way up to 5th floor. So. Once they go to the 5th floor, we also are able to provoke instructions, in terms of things that they need to know about the procedure. And then they’re able to step out into the into the full plant, and then there they basically proceed to perform the procedure, so just… move it little bit further here along. So you guys can see a little bit here, also some elements that are shiny, we also put visual cues for them to not only have the person guiding them through, you know, the different steps, but they also have visual cues in terms of the next step that they need to do. That also allows us to help them retain the information with the steps of the different areas in which they need to go in order to use the tools. On this one, and I want to as you guys can see in the little corner where the video is, we also used a stick with a sensor. That acts as the tool that they have to put it into the tank to unclog it, so we put the sensor in order to create the haptics and they can actually get the feedback, as they are performing the procedure of unclogging the tank itself. So, it was a combination of different hardware and software strategies to be able to, you know, basically, recreate what these engineers do in real life when they are performing these kind of procedures.
So, I mean, that’s really everything that I wanted to show you guys. I don’t know if you guys have any questions. I’ll stop sharing here. If you guys want me to go back to anything or show you anything, you know, go back to any of the slides or go back to the videos, just let me know. For now, I’ll just throw it back to you to ask any questions around the solution.
Well, I just want to say… while we’re waiting for some questions to come in, thank you so much Douglas, for that fascinating breakdown of your company’s business and showing those cool demo videos. For most I assume, or like most I assume, my main preconception of these technologies, is that, yeah, they were mainly for games, but what you guys are doing is such a creative application. I actually did have a question myself though is: does your company play a role in the development of these reality technologies or do you operate mainly with the consumer products? By that I mean, are these simulations created for the consumer headsets on the market today, like the HTC Vive? Or do you create or modify your own?
No, no, we… they’re built for the… for all these commercial headsets that are in the market already, so we don’t… We’re not a hardware company. We consider ourselves as a software company. So, we build these custom solutions for our clients. We are participating actively, as a matter of fact, this past week, I participated in one on one with the Oculus because they’re really trying to find from companies like us… what are the gaps on the hardware and software side that we’re seeing when we’re implementing more commercial and corporate solutions instead of just games right? So one of the key pieces, for example, when it comes to the deployment of these solutions in an enterprise environment, is that you have to, you know basically, shoot updates right to all these devices. They have to be protected. They have to be tied to an identification system. There is software updates or procedure updates, but they want to… that they want to send to these, this content, so, you know, working with… we’re working with these hardware companies to be able to tell them, you know, that we need, you know, more multi-device management solutions. You know, certain things in the software that are limiting us, especially with standalone headsets. The graphic, the graphics, even though they’re fantastic, there is still a lot of gaps versus running experiences from the computers, where we can get an incredible amount of quality. So, we do participate actively with these companies to help them, you know, hopefully include the type of features that we need as providers or as developers, but that’s our goal is to really utilize the leading devices out there to be able to deploy our solutions.
That makes sense. I’m yeah, that’s really cool, again, but it looks like that’s it for questions, so thank you again so much for presenting today and thank you everyone else for attending today as well. Please have a great rest of your Friday and a fantastic weekend.
Yeah, thank you guys for having me, appreciate it.