digital development

University of Houston moves in on industrial metaverse with new partnership

UH — along with some industry partners — has announced plans to work on applications for the industrial metaverse. Image via Getty Images

The University of Houston is helping advance the industrial metaverse.

UH has teamed up with the AI Innovation Consortium, software company Nvidia, and oil and gas engineering and services company TechnipFMC to create applications for the industrial metaverse. The project is affiliated with the Artificial Intelligence Industry Incubator and Digital Oilfield Lab at UH’s campus in Sugar Land. The incubator and lab opened in 2020.

As VentureBeat defines it, the industrial metaverse can transform the way every physical asset — such as a building, plane, robot, or car — is created, assembled, and operated. The industrial metaverse marries the “real world” with technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud computing, edge computing, the internet of things (IoT), 5G, and extended reality (virtual, augmented, and mixed reality).

Global revenue for the industrial metaverse is projected to reach $540 billion by 2025. A key fixture of the industrial metaverse are “digital twins,” which are virtual replicas of physical entities or systems (such as factories).

Adam Berg, manager of learning solutions at TechnipFMC, has been working with the UH College of Technology and the AI Innovation Consortium to test an augmented reality program for management of upstream resources. TechnipFMC is a pioneer in extended reality.

One of the UH professors participating in this effort is David Crawley, professor of practice at the university’s College of Technology and a trustee of the AI Innovation Consortium. Last year, the consortium hosted an AI conference at the UH campus in Sugar Land. The consortium is a think tank whose members include UH, Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Louisville (Kentucky).

Crawley says the consortium’s “academic ecosystem” is critical to developing the workforce of the future.

Konrad Konarski, chairman of the consortium, says the group is building the world’s largest portfolio of industrial metaverse apps for the oilfield services industry and various manufacturing sectors.

“This means a maintenance manager, an operations technology expert, or whoever is responsible for a metaverse technology project will be able to pick up an augmented reality platform or a wearable computer, or simply a smartphone, and seamlessly interconnect their real-world operating environment to and from the metaverse,” Konarski, an AI and IoT expert, says in a news release.

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