AR in Practice – Field Service

On June 13th I gave a workshop-based seminar on Augmented Reality applications in Field Service.  Seminar attendees received a guided hands-on experience for:

Each product will be reviewed to provide a quick summary of what attendees experienced.

After reviewing all of these products, it becomes very clear that we haven’t left the nascent stages of Augmented Reality applications for Field Service. I say this because the majority of tools remain technology and tool centric, giving little, and sometimes no thought to the full workflow that would normally surround their usage.

Field Service can be though of as falling into two very basic categories:

  • Independent, task based field work, such as executing a standard maintenance or repair procedure
  • Field work with remote assistance to diagnose and resolve issues

Either one of these can easily morph into the other.  A standard maintenance procedure can become a remote assistance situation when the field engineer runs into a situation that they are not familiar with.  A remote assistance situation often concludes with a requirement for a standard repair procedure.  Each of these categories starts with a relatively standard and well-defined workflow, which is where many products fall down.

Some products assume that their tool will be used to follow simple maintenance instructions, with no facility in place for a remote assistance session in case there are problems with the maintenance operation.  Others assume that there will be a remote assistance session, but no standard procedures or workflows can be applied.  Although the world of Field Service has been using CRM and Helpdesk software for decades, few of the tools available integrate seamlessly into other CRM / ERP / Helpdesk tools.

Another “tell” regarding the maturity of the market is that most tools are hermetically sealed.  They have very little by way of configurability. You get what you get and that’s about it.  No ability to add or remove fields. No ability to change the screen layouts. And most seriously, no ability to extend the tool beyond its own basic capabilities. Those who have worked with mature CRM, Helpdesk and ERP systems know that every business has their own way of viewing the world and just about everybody eventually modifies the “out of the box” behavior to better suite their own needs.

One additional note – if you are using a Pad or Phone as the remote device, then you should be wearing an audio headset.

Each remote device used will need to be provisioned individually, which will not be covered in this document. For the purposes of this document an iPad Pro was used. Please keep in mind that while the overall functionality will be the same for each device used, how it is displayed will be dependent upon the device’s capabilities. Clearly, with Smart Glasses, this will be different.

Product reviews are listed in alphabetical order to avoid any impression of bias.