A lot has been written about WFH (working from home) recently. We wanted to share what our clients are experiencing and how they have overcome an almost intractable problem, providing hands-on services in the remote, WFH environment we find ourselves in with Remote Assist.
“Remote Assist” is a term used for a suite of applications from Microsoft Dynamics. With Remote Assist two or more people can interact with real-world objects in an intuitive manner. It encompasses elements of video chatting, but with placeable, persistent, 3-D objects, text, video, and instructions. The great thing about this solution is the almost zero thresholds for functionality. If a user can participate in a Teams video conference, they can work with Remote Assist.
We at SphereGen started to work with this type of offering using the HoloLens 1. Recent advances have allowed the solution to work well on phone/tablet clients and even better on the HoloLens 2. It is most often used in the manufacturing space but isn’t limited to just the plant floor. This solution can be utilized anywhere that can support typical Skype/Teams client bandwidth.
We have clients that use Remote Assist on different devices, HoloLens – and now more recently on the iPhone, providing support to the manufacturing plants in off-hours. Here is a scenario showing how it is being used:
An onsite plant maintenance person gets called to a production line problem with a particular machine that is shutting down production.
The maintenance worker tries to solve it but needs help – they phone a colleague (phone a friend). They can’t resolve the issue – the problem escalates to a co-worker who is more familiar with that machine – again, the problem is not resolved.
Typically, the “expert” would now have to drive into the plant to address the issue. Instead, the worker makes a Teams call to the expert. They then use video from their phone or a head-mounted PC (Microsoft HoloLens) to share with the expert what they are seeing. The remote specialist can direct the onsite employee’s actions through video, audio and real-time placement of information, that identify specific points of the machine. PDF manuals can be shared and highlighted with specific pages appearing next to the locations needing attention. Videos demonstrating tasks can be anchored in the field of view or be moved by the worker to gain greater insight. The onsite worker and offsite expert can collaboratively work together to not only solve the problem but better understand the solution. If using the HoloLens, the technician can also work hands-free to fix the equipment as they see and hear their work partner collaborating with them.
The results we have seen are impressive. Our clients are implementing solutions that make their customers happier, keep products flowing and reduce burnout. Before, some of these problems would require technical people to fly around the world to solve them. Today, using the phone apps or the head-mounted/hands-free units, problems are solved in hours instead of days, all done remotely.
If you are challenged by the need to provide hands-on support in a WFH world, give us a call or shoot us an email. We would love to help you explore Remote Assist and see if it fits your needs as well as it has our current customers.