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Creative spaces for new ideas and insights

At the CREALab in Lyon, there are no normal rules. This is where Bertrand Félix got the chance to experiment with new ways of using augmented reality.
Creative spaces for new ideas and insights

In record time, Bertrand Félix and his team have developed a software prototype for hololenses: glasses that use augmented reality technology.

The idea is that these glasses will be used by operators at the Volvo Group’s plants to perform quality control with intuitive head-up display instructions.

The prototype is now going to be tested at the Volvo Group plant in Lyon after anchoring with global forums. At the same time,the team continues to investigate other possible applications for augmented reality.

 “I am actually manager of senior project leaders within Processes & IT, but, because I was previously involved with augmented reality, I recognised the potential it could offer the Volvo Group. I felt that, as the technology is now coming to maturity, this was the right time to explore it,” says Bertrand Félix.

So, he contacted the CREALab, a creative space on the Volvo Group’s site in Lyon. They believed in his idea and gave him access to their incubator. Bertrand Félix’s boss gave him permission to devote 20 per cent of his working time to the project and some 20 people from different business areas eventually joined him.

They all shared the same interest in augmented reality, creating a high level of energy and bringing knowledge from different parts of the Volvo Group.

“We started in January 2017 and we already have a finished prototype, so things have moved extremely quickly. What’s more, it is far less expensive than other projects,” says Bertrand Félix.

He sees the interaction with entrepreneurs and start-ups in the incubator as a huge advantage.

“Inspired by them, we adopted an agile mindset in the team. This includes overcoming silos thinking, to collaborate as much as possible, as well as putting pragmatism and a fast pace into the project. We’ve been using internal co-funding and have made external partnerships.”

Bertrand Félix does not think that his idea could have been realised without the CREALab, which was set up in 2015 by a number of pioneers.

Stéphane Parisot, is one of the founder member. He is Innovation Manager at the Volvo Group University (VGU) and regards the CREALab as a place where the Group can develop innovative methods inspired by small start-ups.

“The VGU can help with training associated with realisation, for example. However, it’s also a question of getting co-workers to think and act more like entrepreneurs,” says Stéphane Parisot.

Rumours about the CREALab have spread outside the Volvo Group and many other companies are currently expressing an interest in making study visits. In Lyon, more creative spaces have been set up to meet the huge interest shown by co-workers.