Microsoft Shuts Down Industrial Metaverse AI Projects

Microsoft Shuts Down Industrial Metaverse AI Projects


This week, reports from BussinessInsider highlighted how Microsoft is closing down Project Airsim, an AI ambition tied to the firm’s Industrial Metaverse roadmap. As part of the closure, Microsoft is also laying off the project’s employees as it plans to discontinue the Azure AI-based service by December 15 2023.

An official Microsoft statement on the layoffs said:

We are proud of the impact this incubation created for our customers and we will continue to invest in both Azure as the computing platform that powers the industrial metaverse, and a wide range of AI projects within the company. We are working closely with our customers on this transition.

Moreover, the news comes after Microsoft shut down Bonsai, another acquired start-up set to play a significant role in the firm’s industrial Metaverse. The acquisitions were initially led by Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott, who also directed the firm’s OpenAI partnership, which seemingly has taken attention away from Airsim and Bonsai – therefore leading to each studio’s closure.

The Affect on Microsoft’s Industrial Metaverse

While the two services appeared to play an important role in Microsoft’s long-standing industrial Metaverse roadmap – with a 2024 launch window – the firm may be closing Bonsai and Airsim to streamline Metaverse-based AI services towards OpenAI technology.

Following the rise of emerging genAI, Microsoft entered a deep partnership with Chat GPT developers OpenAI to expand genAI business use cases across its digital services portfolio- including the Industrial Metaverse.

OpenAI is bringing great value to Microsoft. The firm is working on AI integrations into its Teams and Dynamics 365 portfolio, including Co-Pilot, which promises to bring great value to Microsoft customers.

The Open AI technology integration also crosses over into Microsoft’s Industrial Metaverse, so the roadmap is far from discontinued. Moreover, it appears that Microsoft is planning to use its Open AI partnership to spearhead emerging technology development due to its year of major headlining stealing success.

The firm sees AI as a core technology that fuels the emerging use of XR technology. Earlier this year, Lili Cheng, Corporate Vice President of Business Applications and Platforms at Microsoft, wrote on the keys to MR success for frontline workers, whereby she explained how the firm’s genAI-powered service CoPilot will also improve MR dynamics guide service for XR headsets – lending a hand in optimizing frontline operations.

Dynamics 365 Guides provides a spatial environment that allows frontline workers to access Microsoft brand collaboration tools, such as Teams. Allowing frontline workers to complete repair procedures – which can become a significant blocker – with increased efficiency, connecting workers “beyond their physical limits,” remarked Cheng.

The Microsoft exec mentioned the importance and roles of integrated technologies such as digital twins, which can be “further enhanced by AI,” saying:

Mixed reality is the eyes and ears of AI. Delving into operation nuances for personalized, in-depth learning becomes easier. When integrated, mixed reality and AI accelerate worker training, shortening steps and supplying users with the working knowledge they need for the task at hand.

Microsoft’s Industrial Metaverse Roadmap for 2024

Reports covering Microsoft’s enterprise-grade Metaverse and MR headset solutions appeared sparse towards the start of 2023. However, leading towards the new year, Microsoft explored Metaverse use cases again with significant partners such as the US Army, Boeing, and Nexco-East.

Starting with a simple avatar system that the firm integrated into Microsoft Teams, the firm then unveiled a revamped Industrial Metaverse roadmap at its Inspire 2023 showcase event that covers its latest innovations.

At the event, Microsoft quietly teased information regarding an industrial metaverse initiative, set to kick off in 2024 as part of its AI Cloud Partner Program, which brings significant partners together to fuel growth and innovation towards enterprise-grade AI – with this plan also supporting efforts to grow industrial metaverse solutions and related technologies.

The program looks to boost enterprise use cases of AI, Cloud, and Metaverse solutions to improve productivity, resiliency, and sustainability outcomes. Moreover, it supports the idea that Microsoft is continuing to streamline the integration of emerging technologies into its industrial Metaverse – following the closure of Airsim and Bonsai.

Microsoft’s industrial Metaverse roadmap will also offer a “curated learning path” to provide end-users with resources to introduce workplace XR technology, with considerations for integrated first-party technologies, such as Microsoft Co-Pilot, Azure OpenAI, AI, ML, Azure Databricks, Synapse Analytics (2024), Microsoft Fabric (2024), Microsoft Purview, Power Platform, D365 Field Service, D365 Guides, D365 Remote Assist, HoloLens 2, Azure Maps, Azure HPC product, and Azure Digital Twins.


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