Enhancing Utility Operations with Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented and virtual reality devices are among the most cutting-edge technologies in today’s consumer electronics landscape. Electric utilities have never been known as early adopters of such technology, but that does not mean they must always be late to every party. Innovative hardware improvements and progressive software applications mixed with decreasing costs have opened the door for utilities to be pioneers in the deployment of industrial digital reality technology.

Historically, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have teetered precariously on the edge of practicality (outside of gaming), with limited perceived benefits and functionality, prohibitive costs, and developmental roadblocks. However, new key applications will drive utility interest in digital reality deployment in operations, training, marketing, and other departments. Meanwhile, hardware and device characteristics will either drive or slow the deployment of AR and VR devices. Navigant Research has identified six critical characteristics that a digital reality device must possess for significant penetration into utility operations, and each is identified and discussed in detail in the report.

This Navigant Research report discusses the latest market trends in digital reality for grid applications and explores current and potential applications for small- and large-scale utility deployment. It provides detailed and actionable recommendations on how utilities and device vendors can address the fast-changing market. The study also provides an analysis of key market developments and identifies several prominent AR and VR devices in the market today.

Key Questions Addressed:
  • What are augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) devices?
  • What are the AR and VR applications for utility offices?
  • What are the AR and VR applications for utility field operations?
  • What are the benefits of digital reality?
  • What are the key challenges related to AR and VR deployments?
  • How can utilities implement digital reality into operations?
Who needs this report?
  • Utilities
  • Software companies
  • Augmented reality (AR) device manufacturers
  • Virtual reality (VR) device manufacturers
  • App developers
  • Utility solutions providers
  • Investor community

Table of Contents

Spark

Context

Recommendations

Digital Reality Is Gaining Popularity across Industries

Digital Reality Applications Are Poised to Transform Utility Operations

Technological Breakthroughs Paved the Way

AR Applications Crosscut Utility Operations

Speedy Network Restoration Is Critical: Asset Management and Disaster Recovery

The Utility Workforce Transition Starts Now: Workforce Management

AR Devices Can Increase Efficiency and Accuracy: Inventory Management

Applications for VR Are Less Compelling than AR, but Still Significant

VR Devices Can Lower Safety Risks and Costs: Asset Inspection, Training, and Walkthroughs

VR Headsets Are Marketing Tools: Asset Modeling for Vendor Marketing

Utilizing a Hands-Free VR Interface to Explore Assets: Digital Twin Modeling

VR Provides Complete Digital Immersion

VR Devices Can Lower Safety Risks and Costs: Asset Inspection, Training, and Walkthroughs

VR Headsets Are Marketing Tools: Asset Modeling for Vendor Marketing

Utilizing a Hands-Free VR Interface to Explore Assets: Digital Twin Modeling

VR Drone Piloting Can Increase Safety and Precision: Asset Inspection via Drone Control

Key VR and AR Players Continue to Shift, Posing Challenges to Utilities

Applications Drive Adoption, but Challenges Still Exist

Digital Reality Can Streamline Utility Office Operations

Digital Reality Helps Utilities Streamline and Save with Virtual Training and Development

Field Applications Will Drive Digital Reality Adoption in Utilities

Digital Reality Devices Provide GIS Mapping and Asset Visualization Overlays

Challenges to Digital Reality Deployment Cannot Be Ignored

Impacts of Digital Reality on Utility Operations Will Continue to Grow

Vendors and Utilities Must Collaborate from Design to Deployment

Balancing Costs and Benefits

Recognize the Need

Identify the Solution

Experiment with Options

Demonstrate the Benefits

Decide and Deploy

Success Will Drive Future Progress

Vendors Can Make It Easier for Utilities to Deploy Digital Reality

Utility and Vendor Partnerships Will Realize Superior Benefits

List of Tables and Figures

  • Key Devices
  • Digital Experience Spectrum
  • AR GIS Overlay of Underground Network
  • Digital Realities Deployment Process

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