By Brian Albright, Field Technologies
Virtual and augmented reality solutions will help field service organizations improve first-time fix rates and streamline training.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) used to be the stuff of science fiction — from the holodeck on “Star Trek” to the barrage of virtual screens in the Tom Cruise film, “Minority Report.” Those sci-fi scenarios are a lot closer to reality now. VR interfaces have been developed for gaming applications, and designers and engineers are already using both VR and AR for simulation work. Field service will not be far behind. In a survey conducted by the Service Council in 2014, 21 percent of respondents said they were considering augmented reality applications for the future.
Virtual reality systems immerse the user in a digital environment that isolates them from the actual world surrounding them. Everything they see or hear is computer generated — which is the experience that game manufacturers are looking at.
Augmented reality systems, on the other hand, blend digital content with the real world. These systems can be used with smart glasses or other head-mounted displays, tablets, or even phones (think Pokémon Go). Digital content or images can be overlaid onto a view of the real world. “With AR, when you put the smart glasses on, you see the same live reality around you, but superimposed on it is a layer of digital sensory input — such as annotated graphics, images, and video — that helps you to interact with the real world,” says Evyatar Meiron, CEO of Fieldbit.