AR technology merges computer-generated elements and physical objects to provide an enhanced picture of the real world. The application of AR technology in manufacturing and industry promises to provide cutting-edge solutions that include augmented reality remote assistance for technical and maintenance teams.
Advancements in AR technology in recent years have enabled solutions that help companies stay competitive by improving productivity and reducing unplanned outages.
This article will look at the benefits of AR in the business world and how AR is being used to assist workers with tools to perform functions such as augmented reality maintenance.
What is augmented reality remote assistance?
Augmented reality remote assistance is a combination of traditional remote technical assistance with AR technology. The addition of AR components promises to enhance the functionality and capabilities of remote support teams.
Remote assistance is not a new concept and has become an essential component of many businesses. A familiar example is the technical support specialist who routinely connects to the computers of physically distant users experiencing problems with their machines.
The introduction of remote assistance has enabled small, centralized teams to immediately help customers located anywhere in the world.
AR support merges the physical and virtual worlds and offers virtually limitless possibilities for applications in business and industry. Augmented reality will enable more diverse and intricate implementations of remote assistance.
Teams will be able to perform augmented reality repairs on dangerous equipment without putting human lives in danger. Technicians will have the capability to successfully perform AR maintenance on machines with which they have had no previous experience.
How does AR remote assistance work?
Multiple technologies are used when implementing AR remote assistance. The technological components are designed to synchronize communication between an end-user and a human or software embodiment of an expert. In many cases, details that would be hard to capture in conversation or the written word can easily be shared by overlaying generated visual images on physical objects.
The basic technology required for AR is specialized glasses, goggles, or a software display that overlays virtual elements on physical objects. An illustrative example of visual remote assistance involves a member of the technical support staff performing a repair on a complex piece of industrial-automation machinery. A dedicated AR headset is used that enables the technician to see a projection of visual information on top of the physical equipment being repaired. This information is used to guide the repair which can be done by team members with little to no experience with a particular piece of equipment.
A survey published by PwC suggests that many jobs are projected to be enhanced by the introduction of AR technology as can be seen in the following chart.
A large percentage of these jobs are in the industrial sector and workers will benefit from augmented reality maintenance and repair capabilities. As augmented reality technology matures, it will find applications in all aspects of business and society and become a part of everyday life for a majority of workers.
Industries benefiting from AR remote assistance
Companies operating complex assembly lines and plants can take advantage of augmented reality maintenance and repair procedures to maintain high levels of availability. New team members can quickly get up to speed and take a full shift with the assistance of AR technology. This reduces the need for on-site visits from experts to assist less-skilled workers while maintaining the continuous operation of a production facility.
According to a guide by IDC, over $4 billion is expected to be spent implementing AR technology to enhance employee training and industrial maintenance capabilities.
Pilots, drivers, and heavy-machinery operators all benefit from training with AR support components. Individuals can engage in experiences that closely replicate those they will see in the field without incurring undue risk or expense.
These factors can save enormous amounts of time and money for organizations as diverse as the military, construction companies, and the transportation industry. Training can be accomplished without risking individuals or equipment until the required skills are attained to safely operate the equipment.
What are the uses of AR remote assistance?
Let’s look at some specific use cases in the manufacturing sector where augmented reality remote assistance is currently being utilized or will be soon.
As can be seen from the results of the survey conducted by Perkins Coie, XRA, and Boost VC, the largest percentage of respondents are making use of AR support to provide remote and real-time assistance, feedback, or instructions to employees.
These instructions can be as simple as starting a production process or as complex as disassembling and repairing a critical piece of an automated assembly line. Potential mistakes can be proactively addressed and communicated to an employee through their AR display, improving productivity and worker safety.
The next most popular use of AR will be for employee training. The ability to use AR technology in this way reduces the need for human experts to engage in the training process. Their talents can be put to use optimizing the AR training materials to the benefit of the entire organization. Standardized AR training helps maintain consistency across an organization by giving all employees access to the same high-level education.
As can be seen from the chart, many of the benefits of augmented reality revolve around reducing errors and accidents, thereby improving employee safety. The ability to eliminate preventable injuries and assembly-line outages are welcome in any industrial or business setting. The benefits of AR impact an organization’s bottom line and improve the work-life of its employees.
The ability to furnish real-time assistance to workers in the field can solve many logistical problems and spur creativity. Product design and prototyping employing visual remote assistance enable changes to be made on the fly at a minimal cost.
Optimized products can be brought to market more quickly with the help of augmented reality.
Other uses of AR support include managing complex supply chains, verifying inventory, and providing the capability for performing remote inspections and maintenance. It will soon become commonplace for workers to wear AR headsets to assist them as they go about their daily activities.
Augmented reality maintenance and repair will continue to be implemented in a wider array of industries and businesses. Virtually any company can find an application for providing enhanced information and operational instructions to its employees.
What is the future of AR remote maintenance?
As a given technology matures, more organizations find ways to use it productively. This will certainly be the case with augmented reality and its use in remote maintenance for the foreseeable future. The limitless possibilities of augmented reality maintenance and repair make it an attractive target for hardware and software developers.
Large tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google are working on consumer-centric AR glasses and headsets that will be widely applicable in a business or industrial setting. Smartphones using AR technology will benefit from new cellular networks that offer more speed and reliability.
The future looks bright for augmented reality from a financial perspective. Investment in augmented, virtual, and mixed reality is expected to increase almost tenfold between 2021 and 2028 as seen in the following chart.
The human brain processes visual data very efficiently. Augmented reality maintenance takes advantage of this fact by demonstrating how an activity is performed rather than simply providing a description. This enables a more thorough and consistent exchange of information, as there is no chance of misinterpreting written or verbal instructions.
The field of augmented reality maintenance and repair is still in its infancy. As more companies discover the benefits of AR, their investment will increase resulting in new products and applications for this cutting-edge technology. Businesses in multiple market sectors that take advantage of AR maintenance and implement it wisely will have a competitive edge over their rivals. Companies risk falling behind the competition if they ignore the possibilities of augmented reality maintenance.