Wipro showcases “the art of the possible” in Mountain View, CA. Here’s a peek inside the collaborative R&D and incubation hub.
Systems integrator, consulting and business process services firm Wipro on Aug. 1 unveiled a slick new Silicon Valley Innovation Center at its offices in Mountain View, CA. It’s the company’s only such facility outside of India, where it has an innovation center at headquarters in Bangalore. The new center will make it possible for Wipro customers and partners based in North America to collaboratively explore the art of the possible without traveling half way around the world.
Two years in the making, Wipro’s multi-million-dollar Innovation Center features an intimate multi-media theater space with a glass holographic screen. Surrounding this space are modular application and solution displays with room for groups of executives and developers to gather around and interact with state-of-the-art technologies. At the inaugural event, which was kicked off by Wipro CEO and Member of the Board Abidali Z. Neemuchwala, tech showcases featured artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, hyper spectral imaging, machine vision and collaborative robotics and automation.
An opening video featured an Internet-of-Things (IoT) application powered by Wipro’s Looking Glass IoT platform and co-developed with customer JCB, the U.K.-based heavy equipment manufacturer. The theater’s holographic screen added a wow factor, with the video seemingly appearing out of thin air. The application, which is now in production, includes predictive maintenance and automated parts ordering capabilities, which are getting to be routine, but it goes a step beyond with virtual reality “digital twins” of JCB equipment. Operators needing training on a backhoe, for example, can interact with a digital twin and learn about components and controls through hover-over pop-up screens and interactive tours of the digital twins while remote service experts can help local operators and mechanics to diagnose problems and make repairs.
Solution highlights included a retail “Store of the Future,” human-interactive systems and interfaces powered by the Wipro Holmes AI platform, an in-home banking experience integrated with Amazon Alexa, a social- and personalization-enhanced telco customer experience, and a connected health demonstration with facial recognition, imaging-based health monitoring and fitness coaching.
The innovation center’s modular displays are designed to be updated as state-of-the-art technologies evolve. For example, the Store of the Future was on display in January at the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York. Pick up an item off a sensor-embedded store shelf and a nearby displays lights up with detailed product information. Pick up a second item and the display offers product comparisons. Now in Mountain View, the store has added a mobile app that lets customers view shelves through their smart phone cameras and see pricing and product information superimposed over the items in view.
Wipro executives stressed that the point of the innovation center is not to demo finished products and applications, but rather to share the state of the possible and spark new ideas. The intention is to iteratively co-develop new and unique solutions with customers and partners, blending and extending concepts seen in the innovation center.
MyPOV on Wipro’s Innovation Center
Innovation Centers are all the rage Silicon Valley. Most major auto manufacturers, for example, now have software design and innovation centers in the Bay area, and the idea it to interact with tech startups and hatch new ideas. With this week’s launch, Wipro beat some of its larger rivals in the race to build an innovation center in the epicenter of tech innovation.
Like many of its rivals, Wipro has digital design labs around the globe, but these are more like conventional office spaces where customers and Wipro executives can hold design workshops and collaborate on short- and long-range projects. Innovation centers are more capital- and staff-intensive and, when done well, they require constant renewal and investment in the next generation of innovation.
Collaboration is also key, as it takes interaction to spark new ideas. Executives said the innovation center will a space for working with partners and tech startups, not just demonstrating Wipro platforms. The company puts money behind that collaborative bet though its Wipro Ventures investment arm, which is a S100 million fund that invests in early- to mid-stage startups, many of which are in the Bay area.
In short, the opening of Wipro’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center marks an important milestone for the company. It’s a statement about the company’s commitment to innovation and investment in a U.S. presence.