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Virtual innovation center: Coworking in three-dimensional space

3D avatars take part in a virtual workshop.

In this article you will read about,

  • how customers can move freely as avatars in T-Systems’ virtual innovation center,
  • how 3D workshops can be conducted smoothly thanks to powerful GPUs, and
  • how the Open Telekom Cloud enables the necessary scalable, data-protection compliant, and secure hosting.

Quiet whirring in the air. A drone slowly circles the smokestack of an industrial plant and takes razor-sharp images of the condition of the plant. Is the surface intact? Are there already cracks or even holes in the material? In real time, the drone sends the 360-degree view to the tablet of the service technician, who immediately initiates the necessary maintenance measures. The whole thing is monitored by the medium-sized plant manufacturer and its service partner T-Systems. However, it is all purely virtual, taking place in a digital showroom: because the drone and the service technician do not really exist, they are only a 3D projection in T-Systems’ virtual innovation center. Here, virtual reality (VR) vividly shows the plant engineering company how its service processes can be digitalized and thus also accelerated.

Plenty of space for coworking and innovative projects

Lab and showroom, networking and workshops: T-Systems’ innovation center in Munich is a creative forge and birthplace of innovative prototypes and new business models for companies. This is where customers, manufacturers, and partners meet to discuss trends and technologies. T-Systems shows products you can touch, demonstrates practical examples, and designs individual business solutions together with the customer.

Recently, all this has also been happening with virtual reality. For this purpose, the Düsseldorf-based TechBoost start-up doob group has virtually reproduced an exact replica of the innovation center – including the large showroom, smaller breakout rooms, and a kitchen. The basis for this is the start-up's gaming engine and software developed together with T-Systems to invite customers to the virtual innovation center and interact with them. Using full-body scanners, the 3D specialists also created 400 avatars of T-Systems employees that can be used in virtual reality and controlled in real time.

Visitors can also take part in workshops, video meetings, and presentations as avatars. They can choose to immerse themselves in the 3D world using VR glasses or a web browser. And they can move around there completely freely – strolling and looking around, talking to other avatars, listening to and watching speakers as well as applauding or interacting with virtual objects by mouse click. "In this way, we make innovation tangible and can develop new concepts for their digital challenges in interactive sessions with customers," says Andreas Droste, Senior Innovation Manager, T-Systems International. This is particularly useful during the coronavirus pandemic, as it also allows users who are working from home to participate.

 

Cloud computing as a scalable, secure basis

A platform with high graphics performance and low latency guarantees that all participants can move freely in the virtual world. However, the capacities required for this don’t have to be available around the clock, as the virtual innovation center is only used for certain periods of time. That’s a clear argument for the public cloud. Another important requirement: Since the innovation center also deals with personal customer data and sensitive business information, the platform must guarantee the highest level of IT security and be able to comply with the strict requirements of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The solution: flexibly scalable IT resources from the Open Telekom Cloud. To meet IT security requirements, the entire environment runs in various virtual private clouds in the Open Telekom Cloud. The required high computing power is available on demand and in real time. Virtual machines with P100 Nvidia graphics cards and correspondingly powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) provide the necessary 3D performance. In addition, the required CPUs and RAM memory can be booked from the public cloud. Thanks to the pay-per-use payment model, the costs are always transparent and also calculable in the future.

The platform is operated with high availability in the Open Telekom Cloud’s multiple-certified data centers in Germany. The high-security data centers, the German legal area, and the agreed service level agreements (SLAs) ensure compliance with the highest security standards and that all sensitive customer data and business information is processed and stored in a GDPR-compliant manner.

Mixed reality fully convinces

In particular, the social distancing prompted by the coronavirus pandemic has recently attracted a large number of visitors to the virtual innovation center. Employees and visitors alike praise the uncomplicated collaboration in the virtual world. Different media such as audio and video conferences as well as live streams can be easily integrated. This creates a real collaboration platform in a mixed reality environment: while audio and video conferences are used for face-to-face discussions, digitalized showcases help participants to engage with complex topics in a playful way. "The mix of 3D avatars on stage integrated with video conferences is a new, very realistic setting that excites us," says Roland Schütz, CIO of Deutsche Lufthansa.

Find out more about T-Systems’ virtual innovation center and the Open Telekom Cloud.


 

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