Why AR is Worth a Thousand Words to Frontline Workers

Techspective released an article last week detailing how Augmented Reality is the solution for remote coaching where video calls and manuals are ineffective. As Andreas Haizmann articulates, certain objects or issues need to be seen to be understood, as each individual will have a slightly different perspective of a part, therefore rendering simple phone calls insufficient. This is particularly crucial in the engineering or manufacturing industry, as specialised pieces of equipment will require occasional maintenance and repairs, potentially with remote guidance.

Due to Covid-19, restricted travel and social distancing requirements have accelerated AR-based solutions for remote assistance, since it has now become a necessity for industry operations. As opposed to video-calling applications such as Zoom or Skype, Augmented Reality is software technology allowing users to overlay graphic material onto video images via mobile network. For instance, an expert and on-site technician could both view a panel of switches on an annotatable screen connected via their own PC, phone, or tablet. The expert could then circle or drop a virtual arrow on the part that needs attention for the technician to see on the screen.

Key advantages of AR-based remote assistance noted in the article include:

  • Instantaneous feedback system – users interact with the elements of their work in addition to with one another
  • Highly mobile form of communication – includes annotations, on-site images, and graphic augmentation as well as a two-way voice connection
  • Increases safety – e.g. reduces number of healthcare workers needed in a hospital room, limiting exposure to Covid-19
  • Helps maintain workflow continuity
  • More intermittent, special-purpose vehicle of communication than video conferencing

Other potential features of AR, dependent on the specific software, include:

  • Retaining images
  • Issuing push notifications
  • Looping in multiple users
  • Recording a session for future training
  • Object character recognition
  • Transferring files

The article concludes by stating that, even post-pandemic, AR is likely to become a prominent tool for operating personnel and frontline technicians to rely on.

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