By Brian Albright, Field Technologies
Augmented reality (AR) technology is still a bit of a novelty in the service space, but more companies are rolling out solutions that utilize heads-up displays or smart glasses to provide hands-free access to schematics, instructions, and other service information to techs in the field.
Case in point: at ServiceNow’s recent Knowledge17 conference in Orlando, Fujitsu showed off its new augmented reality visor, which is integrated with the ServiceNow platform so that companies can generate service requests, assign engineers, and send ticket and repair information to the technician’s AR visor. Fujitsu is a managed service provider for the ServiceNow solution.
The new head-mounted display is an immersive AR device. At the conference, Fujitsu demonstrated two different service scenarios.
In the first, a SharePoint server was identified as being at risk of running out of disc space. The service software flagged the problem and generated a change request, which automatically created a task for an engineer – in this case to install a new disc.
The AR display then provided specific data to the wearer about where the disc needed to be installed. After the installation was completed, ServiceNow recorded the job and closed the ticket.
The second scenario involved sensors installed by a utility company that detect an imminent pipe failure. The service system selected an engineer with the proper training and dispatched them. The AR display allowed the engineer to receive step-by-step details about the required repairs. Dispatch had a real-time view of the progress of the job and could even monitor the health of the engineer to ensure employee safety.
The Fujitsu head mounted display includes an adjustable, solid display that can be positioned in front of either eye. There is also a wearable keyboard, integrated camera, and voice control/command features, and it is equipped with sensors that can be used to monitor the safety of the user or the environment.
Other companies are also making headway in the AR/hands-free space. RealWear announced that a number of companies have joined the Pioneer Program to use its HMT-1 head-mounted tablet. New pilot users include ABB, Ford, Volvo, Dell, Boeing, Airbus, and Verizon.
The company also partnered with Librestream Technologies to demonstrate hands-free video collaboration.
“That some of the world’s most revered companies recognize the benefits of the HMT-1 is a huge validation of the market need for our product,” said Andy Lowery, CEO, RealWear. “As we approach the HMT-1’s general availability, the real-world experience that these companies have already put the HMT-1 through has reinforced our position that our product will transform how work gets done by today’s connected industrial workers.”
And according to this piece in Installation International, a number of other industries have begun embracing AR or mixed-reality technologies. Those include healthcare (where the technology can e used for health screenings) and design/engineering where AR can help designers manipulate digital prototypes. Property marking can also benefit by providing overlays to help guide staff as they mark construction sites or utility lines.
“We’ve been looking at how we can use AR as a field service tool so that you don’t have to carry around a laptop and a huge amount of technical manuals, and also so you can share what you are seeing with an expert back at base,” said Steve Plunkett, CTO of Ericsson broadcast and media services. “So you still have skilled technicians in the field, but if they need more data, first of all they can pull back to the AR device. If they then need to stream a video, they can then fire that back to somebody who can look at it and then get them more quickly to a resolution. It’s very interesting.”