Augmented Reality is a hot topic in tech circles. And, the number of companies looking at how it can support and enhance the field service sector is growing.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) is often confused with Virtual Reality (VR). But they are not the same thing. VR provides a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world (e.g. via a headset). Other the other hand, AR adds digital elements to a live view. Often by using the camera on a smartphone or tablet.
How could Augmented Reality be used in practice?
Consider a typical job in the field service industry. A customer reports an issue, a job is created, and an engineer is dispatched. This engineer goes to the job and tries to identify and fix the problem. If they can’t, then a repeat visit is scheduled. The engineer then updates a system with any notes (hopefully using a mobile app).
With Augmented Reality, when a job is created, that same engineer would attend the visit with more interactive and personalised work instructions. This could include an online training video along with a more detailed step-by-step guide. At the same time, Augmented Reality technology would be used to monitor how the engineer is performing and interacting with the instructions provided. And, the technology would alter them if they were failing to adhere to the necessary compliance and safety standards.
Furthermore, if the engineer appears to be struggling, the technology could ask them how they are doing and provide additional guidance. For new engineers not accustomed to a specific piece of equipment, this could make it much easier to solve the fix in one visit.
Crucially, because all activities are tracked in real-time, in an interactive manner, there would be no need for engineers to update systems once done. Furthermore, when you combine AR with Artificial Intelligence (AI), any instructions and support would be continually enhanced in order to provide engineers with exactly what they need. And, should the customer ever need to know what is done (e.g. when making a claim against a warranty), you’ll have an accurate record of exactly what took place.
Moving beyond Augmented Reality?
As you can see, AR could be a game-changer in the field service sector. But, believe it or not, when we look into the future, it’s easy to see how AR could be replaced by an even more innovative technology.
Mixed reality (MR) combines AR and VR to allow real-world and digital objects to interact. And, with access to MR, engineers would be able to communicate and share information on an unparalleled scale.
Eventually, we might even see a situation where consumers and business customers use MR to show engineers any problems they are having. Customer service teams could see in 3D exactly what the customer sees, allowing them to better help solve the problem. This could even enable businesses to instruct self-service fixes remotely and in real-time.
How soon will AR & MR technologies become the norm in the field service industry?
While you shouldn’t expect to see changes happening overnight, AR products are already infiltrating the sector. What’s more, Microsoft is exploring how MR can be used to serve business needs. So, while these technologies many not yet taken a prevalent hold, that could all be about to change.
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