Globalisation and a dramatic uptick in both the need and desire for remote working have resulted in a dispersed workforce — in which it is easy to lose both professional and personal connection
But the unprecedented speed of digital transformation, technologies such as 5G and improving consumer hardware such as smartphones, means that the prompt adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) in remote support is rapidly coalescing to close the connection gap. As these emerging technologies continue to develop, they will become an ever more important driving force in enabling people to transcend time zones and locations, as well as connecting us to others in both our personal and professional lives.
AR is already enabling technicians to guide employees through fixing deeply technical issues step-by-step, inspections to take place in remote locations, and has even given grandparents the opportunity to show their grandchildren how to knit. But this is only the start of what will become possible as new features in this technology provide easy, fast, and secure remote assistance to identify and solve problems in the real world.
Shifting the boundaries of possibility
In recent years, AR has come into its own in the form of remote support. For example, if a critical production machine stops working and the technician is thousands of miles away, the employee on the ground can use AR to allow the technician to see the problem through their eyes. This technology has been a game-changer for our society, and it’s only getting better. The latest developments in the AR game include the use of the LiDAR scanner. This method creates new depths to the video we see on camera as it calculates distances between objects by sending out laser light and then measuring the reflection with a sensor. Technicians, or any expert, can then place markers on targets that will now scale automatically on the screen with high precision. By connecting through video sessions, technicians can use these newer features to help identify the problem and guide the person on-site to solve it faster than ever.
A new reality for training
AR, however, is not limited to streamlining maintenance or fixing issues. We can use it to teach others, upskill colleagues and progress in our roles by using tools to support and improve our day-to-day work. Training new employees is one of the most valuable applications for augmented reality, particularly as there is currently a shortage of key experts, particularly in manufacturing. In fact, Deloitte’s research found that as much as 50% of open positions remain vacant due to skill shortages in this industry.
AR can be used to upskill these employees, and train new ones. When onboarding a new member of staff, ensuring that the employee is aware of the correct protocols and procedures is often critical. For example, when a new employee is familiarising themselves with a machine, an AR-capable smartphone or tablet can provide relevant training to ensure it’s operated correctly. If this technology was not available, uncertainties could lead to a break in compliance, safety issues, or even increased downtime — all critical issues in multiple industries, including manufacturing.
Today, this technology goes beyond needing an AR-capable device to hand though. Features such as session recording and being able to take a screenshot of the live video stream are increasingly being used to create a pool of expert knowledge that is readily available on demand. This also helps to maintain high standards of documentation and protocol across the business, and enables new employees to work without constant supervision. They can refer back to the recording and see any part of the training to troubleshoot themselves, before having to engage a supervisor. AR experiences like this mean businesses, in a range of industries, can develop more dynamic and cost-effective training programs.
Bringing the world together
There are many applications of AR that are already helping us to become more connected in our domestic lives too.
As some of us become distanced geographically from colleagues, family and friends, many people are reconnecting and sharing knowledge virtually. Whilst not everyone will have sophisticated remote assistance tools, people can still send invites via SMS for people to join live sessions. In turn, everyone really can connect at the click of a button. A mechanical engineering class can meet across different countries and time zones to learn how to build a remote control car, while grandparents in London might teach their grandchildren how to knit in Arizona. Physical human interaction, by nature of humans being social beings, will likely always be our preferred method of communication, but technology can help us maintain productivity and keep learning when that’s not possible.
The world of work and our social lives will continue to undergo an evolution over the coming years, and AR-powered remote support will be there to help people solve day-to-day professional and personal challenges. In the next few years, AR will deliver multiple benefits to the world, and it’s an exciting journey that is only at the beginning.
About the Author
Bhaskar Mitra is Global Product Marketing Manager at TeamViewer. As a leading global provider of remote connectivity solutions, TeamViewer empowers users to connect anything, anywhere, anytime. The company offers secure remote access, support, control, and collaboration capabilities for online endpoints of any kind.
Featured image: ©Rymden