Charlie and the virtual chocolate factory

This is a great find if you ask me because I love hearing about how technology is being pushed within a business context. TCHO is a chocolate factory based out in San Francisco and are working in conjunction with a research lab in Palo Alto called FXPAL to explore the real-world application of emerging technologies such as applying lightweight social media and virtual reality for collaboration in industrial settings. What they’ve built is a “mixed reality” infrastructure that collects and delivers real-time data from a variety of sources piped to a variety of display types including virtual worlds, iPhones, iPads and web browsers. In essence, Charlie now controls the Chocolate Factory from his iPhone !

Now I’ve talked about this before and explored such concepts with a couple of organisations in 2009 (ReactionGrid being a great little team who run OpenSim virtual worlds. Roll 12 months forward and here we have a real and practical example of a team pushing the envelope by marrying up technologies most would only use in isolation of each other. The team take data sources including feeds from the commercial software (that controls the c.350 sensors/actuators on the main factory floor), video from a number of networked cameras, environmental data, and data from a subsystem, for physically controlling machines in a lab setting via the iPhone. TCHO can take visitors on a virtual tour via the virtual world environment (currently running in multiverse and teleplace) which is a complete mock up of the factory and the iPhone app is in daily use in the lab.

Now it seems to me that simulating processes via a business process suite using the same kind of technology could virtually (pun intended) be within reach here. Not only that but this also demonstrates how powerful an example of becoming a mobile-enabled enterprise can get.

If you want more information about what’s going on in the factory and how FXPAL are enabling this, visit: http://www.fxpal.com/VirtualFactory

It’s well worth a read to even spark your own imaginations on what can be possible. Plus given it’s in a chocolate factory I bet they really enjoy their work….

Everlasting gobstopper anyone ?

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