How to turn speech into BI dashboards (with our SQL pipeline)

A Convenient Time To Collect Data With Voice

If there’s one thing our customers have in common, it’s that they are all dependent on data collected by their workers on the front line.

Whether it’s a facility manager doing maintenance inspections or a service rep delivering new parts to a customer, the businesses we work with rely on accurate data flowing from employees to their operational and management systems.

For a long time technology seems to have focussed only on ensuring data accuracy, with little regard to the convenience of data collection processes imposed on employees. As a result, data collection has often been slow (as workers need to find time to complete burdensome data collection processes after the fact) or even incomplete (as workers reject processes that over-burden them).

Thankfully, technology has moved forward and there are now easier ways for employees to collect data accurately and efficiently. What’s more is that, by combining just a few powerful technologies — RealWear, JourneyApps and Microsoft PowerBI — it’s now possible to collect data through voice and completely automate data aggregation and visualization.

This post deals with how to overcome the challenges of turning speech into visualized data on Business Intelligence tools like Gartner Analytics and BI Platforms Leader, Microsoft PowerBI.

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The data journey from distributed sources to a central database and finally visualization through business intelligence tools like Microsoft PowerBI.


Challenge 1: A Safe, Convenient Way to Capture Data (Without Using Your Hands)

For most technicians, it’s impractical to repeatedly interrupt their flow in order to enter data through a keyboard or touchscreen, as they complete work.

Any home cook can empathize: think of grocery lists that have missing items because you were halfway through grilling when you noticed that spice was running low.

RealWear provides a solution: instead of having to stop what you’re doing, their head-mounted tablet (HMT) allows users to navigate apps hands-free. The HMT-1 has 4 microphones and unique noise cancellation technology which makes it effective even in noisy, industrial environments.

Much like “Hey Siri…” comes to the rescue of the home cook, the RealWear HMT-1 is here to help the technician with their hands full.

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Featured Technology: RealWear HMT provides a way to use apps hands-free.


Challenge 2: Using Speech To Collect Structured Data

Using voice commands to navigate through apps gets you halfway there, but the other half is having apps available that allow the collection of organized or structured data.

In the home cook metaphor, it’s the difference between having a note on your phone simply listing ingredients and organizing the ingredients into categories, with corresponding quantities or amounts and perhaps even acceptable substitutes.

JourneyApps provides a solution here: it allows the collection of structured data through speech with a number of pre-built voice-enabled components such as:

  • Free text input (for comments entered as text through dictation)
  • Limited text input (for specific inputs like numbers or email addresses)
  • Single choice radio buttons (“select option 1”)
  • Multiple choice radio buttons (“select options 2, 4 and 5”)
  • Dropdown lists
  • Data tables
  • GPS position capture/tracking
  • Photo capture

Any input data can be organized however necessary, for example by relating the parts used to a specific work order, or by combining all entered data into a single report.

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Featured Technology: the view of an app built on JourneyApps as seen on a RealWear HMT-1. Single choice radio button selection is one way to capture structured data.


Challenge 3: Aggregating Data In A Central Database

An often overlooked challenge is how to ensure data is accurately aggregated into a central database where users are using multiple different devices and may be offline from time to time.

The challenge here stems from the fact that, in order to allow users to access and use apps when they don’t have network connectivity, it’s important to have a local database with a subset of data residing locally, on the device. However, this distributed architecture creates a challenge for keeping these databases in sync.

The JourneyApps PowerSync engine manages this by ensuring data is synchronized between the local and cloud databases, keeping a full audit trail of any changes made.

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Featured Technology: JourneyApps PowerSync ensures accurate data aggregation in a central cloud database.


Challenge 4: Plugging Data Into A BI System

Because the JourneyApps Cloud DB is in a no-SQL format, data cannot be connected directly to a PowerBI environment.

Fortunately, it’s easy to deploy a SQL data pipeline that replicates the no-SQL database to a SQL database hosted on Azure. The replicated database is automatically kept up to date, with data collected in the field appearing on the SQL database in near-real time.

From there, it’s simple to select that database as a data source for PowerBI where reports and dashboards will be updated as the SQL database is updated.

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Featured Technology: JourneyApps provides a SQL Data Pipeline that can be selected as a data source within PowerBI.


From Data To Insights To Action

Combining RealWear® and JourneyApps provides field and frontline employees with a way to collect structured data without disrupting them from their flow. This convenient approach increases not only the speed of data collection and aggregation but also the accuracy of data.

Using tools like the JourneyApps SQL Data Pipeline opens up a way to display data collected through voice by distributed workers into a central business intelligence dashboard.

With RealWear and JourneyApps, the possibilities are only just beginning to be explored…


JourneyApps provides a rapid way to build custom apps for RealWear® HMT, mobile and desktop. Voice commands are simple to set up and manage, we provide offline support out of the box, and deploying apps happens with a single click. Comes with prebuilt ERP integrations. If you are interested, please contact us to schedule a demo. You can also visit our RealWear page to learn more and subscribe for notifications about new blog posts.


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