Augmented and assisted reality are a growing phenomenon within the extended reality space, particularly in gaming, education, communications, medicine, utilities, and entertainment. But, another sector that is seeing increased growth is that of industrial applications. Wearables are showing their worth for an increasing range of processes out in the field or within the factory. One of these processes is remote assistance.
Remote assistance is where a remote expert provides virtual support to an on-site technician through a wearable device such as the RealWear Navigator™ 500 and remote collaboration software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Using these technologies in this process allows the expert to be on hand when needed, and the technician gets the help they need when they need it. This streamlines the field service or maintenance process, leading to cost and time savings for the company.
- Image: Industrial Augmented Reality (Source: HQuality/Shutterstock.com)
How Assisted Reality and Augmented Reality Has Changed Remote Assistance
These wearable extended reality (XR) devices have had a clear impact on how remote assistance can be implemented. Having image overlay when using augmented reality, or a hands-free head-up display with assisted reality - the ability for an expert to visually and virtually assist a technician has changed the game in several ways:
Increased Efficiency With Faster Time-To-Resolution
One of the largest gains companies experience with the implementation of XR devices for remote assistance is the efficiency gains that are made. Instead of looking for someone to help, phoning around, and spending job time trying to get assistance, technicians can now be helped immediately because help can be given from anyone around the world.
(Note: sometimes using wearable devices and using a remote collaboration app like Zoom or Teams can still require you to struggle to reach the right expert - the RealWear Connect app solves this problem.)
COVID-19 drove many companies to make their workforce partially or entirely remote. Since the easing of the pandemic, many companies have chosen to keep those who do not have to be on-site at home. Assisted and augmented reality means that, while the technician does need to be on-site, the expert can work remotely if that is preferred. The expert can assist from in front of their computer at home or even from their mobile phones.
- Image: A remote expert providing assistance (Source: fizkes/Shutterstock.com)
Reducing travel costs is a typical objective of remote assistance programs because of the major savings available to the organization. A leaner but just as effective technician support structure can be adopted as fewer experts need to be hired when one person can assist multiple technicians all over the country in a single day. More timely technician assistance leads to better maintenance outcomes and, consequently, to fewer asset breakdowns.
Fewer people on an industrial site lead directly to fewer workplace injuries – analogous to a reduced “attack surface area” in cyber security terms. Since assistance now comes from someone off-site, there is less safety risk.
It’s Better For the Planet
Less travel = less pollution. The reduction in needed travel not only reduces cost but eventually will mean less pollution caused by car or air travel. Yes, one expert not traveling to all the sites that he is needed won’t make a big difference, but apply the rate of adoption of assisted reality and augmented reality devices for remote assistance and a significant contribution starts to be made.
Remote assistance within industrial companies has evolved significantly through the adoption of augmented and assisted reality devices to complete the process. Costs are reduced, efficiency is increased, and safety is improved. This is driven through the use of remote collaboration software and applications such as the RealWear Connect app.