igus meets metaverse: the plastics specialist brings sales and engineering to virtual reality

Salespeople, engineers, and customers will work together in the iguverse

19 December 2022 – igus®, the Germany-based manufacturer of motion plastics, announced the igus iguverse®. iguverse is igus’s parallel digital universe that prepares sales and engineering for the metaverse.

Pokémon GO and other VR computer games enable users to participate in social events in a 3D simulation. The technology demonstrates how powerful a parallel digital universe can be. Over 12.3 million players gathered in a virtual space in April 2020 when rapper Travis Scott gave a digital concert with an avatar. A parallel digital universe could have similar importance for industry and commerce.

“We are pursuing the vision of the iguverse, a virtual space in which all of our products can be experienced as digital twins, but that is not all,” says igus CEO Frank Blase. “Customers from all over the world will have the opportunity to work with engineers and project managers in iguverse to develop machines, systems, and vehicles and to immerse themselves in projects and applications. This will save time and money.”

Sales in virtual space

Visitors to the 2022 IAA Transportation trade show in Hannover got a sneak preview of the iguverse. At the igus booth, visitors put on virtual reality glasses and, accompanied by igus employees, took a first look at the beginnings of the igus metaverse.

In the future, users will look at 3D models of products such as energy chains from all sides in a 360-degree panoramic view. They will experience the igus infrastructure, such as the 3,800-square-meter test laboratory in Cologne, without traveling and will immerse themselves in applications that use igus components. Such applications range from a plastic bicycle to a futuristic minivan with iglide® plain bearings, drylin® linear guides, and e-chains® to an oil platform that uses the modular e-loop® energy chain system. These impressions are not nearly as impressive and lifelike when conveyed with traditional media such as catalogs, brochures, multimedia presentations, videos, and previous 3D objects.

Customers are up to nine times as likely to remember experiences in virtual reality

“The iguverse represents a new way of presenting, selling, and engineering. It has plenty of potential for future sales. For many, the metaverse is still uncharted territory,” says Frank Blase. “We also want to learn more and are traveling this path with our customers. For example, salespeople and customers could wear VR glasses during customer visits and immerse themselves in the iguverse.”

Frank Blase continued, “Studies show that customers are up to nine times as likely to remember experiences in virtual reality and thus understand things better.”

Smooth, time-saving engineering in virtual reality

But digital twins of products and infrastructure are only one stage of expanding into the iguverse. In the future, customers, engineers, and material experts will meet as avatars in digital space, carrying out entire engineering projects faster and smoother than possible in just the physical world.

igus is also considering expanding the iguverse to include a B2B platform for other manufacturers. They can then present machines and systems in virtual space, using igus components.

According to Gartner, a US market research firm, this is a megatrend. Gartner reports that digital channels will represent 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers as early as 2025. igus, however, will use the B2B platform to create a growing reference database for motion plastics, which can also be accessed virtually.

Selling digitally with augmented reality

igus is also using a new form of digital sales and presentation with augmented reality. One example of this is the triflex® TRX energy chain series. Sales staff and customers used to have few opportunities to look inside a closed sample chain. Some mechanical principles that are particularly unusual in the triflex TRX had to be left to the imagination.

Augmented reality changes all that. If employees activate the software on their smartphones using a QR code on the e-chain, the application overlays the product on the screen with an animated virtual twin. This enables a kind of X-ray view of the mechanism inside the chain. Products that require explanation thus become clear.

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