Is augmented reality useful for something? Many times we talk about very promising technologies that never come to fruition. And augmented reality is one of them. In the last year we have seen companies such as Google or Apple that have been presenting their tools but still today it is difficult to see practical applications of augmented reality on a daily basis.
One of the practical uses that is beginning to emerge is remote technical assistance. Using augmented reality applications different companies can help the user easier than by phone. And in addition, the client can receive the instructions more clearly. Simply point the camera of the mobile at the problem and on the screen of this will appear the indications just above the machine, the computer or the coffee maker that we want to fix.
Here we leave you a series of solutions and companies that are betting on this remote technical service. These are applications and techniques that have either not been extended enough or are part of paid services, but seeing how they work it would not be surprising that in the future they become popular and can become a habitual solution within the field of technical assistance.
“You must press this button”
One of the companies that has always opted for remote control tools is TeamViewer. And related to technical assistance has its Pilot program, a service with a cost of 24.90 euros per month in which the customer can have unlimited sessions with support, share their camera and receive instructions through 3D pointers in augmented reality .
It is a solution to help customers on the ground and learn how to configure products. TeamViewer Pilot allows you to see drawings and diagrams on the screen so that we can see clearly which button we must press or the key to which we must give it.
Normally assistance is accompanied by voice instructions via IP call, but as they say: “a picture is worth a thousand words”. And here having a direct image about the object is sometimes more intuitive and easier to follow than not a detailed explanation.
The sessions are also encoded with 256-bit AES to be used in business environments. In the case of the TeamViewer tool, we have available the free application on Google Play and the AppStore.
Vuforia Chalk, applying ARKit and ARCore to technical assistance
Another similar but free solution for the end user is Vuforia Chalk, a tool created by Qualcomm so that companies can use technical assistance systems based on augmented reality.
The Qualcomm platform allows you to use your mobile’s camera and display annotations, drawings and specific instructions. Among the requirements is to have a mobile with at least Android 6.0 or iOS 11 and a recommended connection of 2Mbps so that the quality of the video is acceptable and the remote person can see in detail what you are focusing.
As we had in TeamViewer, Vuforia Chalk combines augmented reality with voice instructions. But in this case it also adds video call, varied annotations and allow contact outside the application. The latter is a use that can be useful in case the client wants to take advantage of the augmented reality camera to receive applications, but does not want to call through the application.
Several maintenance companies move to augmented reality
In addition to large manufacturers, in the sector of remote technical assistance are emerging small businesses that focus on augmented reality to offer their services. This is the case of new companies such as VIVAR, Inscape, Acty or RE’FLEKT, the latter founded in Munich in 2012 and with 60 workers. And more specifically, one of its products is precisely Re’Flekt Remote, which offers a technical assistance service with experts, group chats, offline annotations, scanning QR codes or bars and instructions in real time.
Re’flekt is an example of how companies dedicated to virtual reality and augmented reality have found in remote technical assistance one of the main business models to take advantage of their knowledge of this technology.
Also to fix the car
Another company that has caught our attention is Scope AR, an augmented reality solution compatible with Android, iOS, Hololens, wearables and even Windows. In this case, it is not the technical capabilities, which are quite similar to the rest, but the use they give it.
Scott Montgomerie, Scope AR executive, tells SiliconAngle that: “a 2D image is not the most intuitive thing to interact with, but with 3D graphics it’s as if we had our hands and eyes there.” To which it adds that they are finding a good reception in the repair of vehicles, where the mechanics can mark in an easier way the pieces to be moved. “Move the spark plug, that’s not the one on the right, no, more on your left.” A complicated mechanic where by voice is almost exasperating, explains Scott.
Remote Assist: the Microsoft solution goes through the Mixed reality
Microsoft is a company that is making big investors for the future and also has a tool for remote assistance. We are talking about Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, a solution combining mixed reality video calls and Hololens. That is, we have a combination of their augmented reality glasses, instead of simply the camera of the mobile, and holographic video calls created by the glasses, instead of through the mobile.
Microsoft currently offers this service to other companies and uses it in their internal computers, but it is a good example of how augmented (and mixed) reality could change remote assistance and facilitate the repair of devices without having to call the technician so that he comes to visit us.