Product Review – Atheer

Atheer

Atheer is a workflow-based AR tool that allows for live connections to multiple participants. While this document attempts to be comprehensive, it will not be an exhaustive review of all functionality. Rather, it will highlight the most important aspects of the tool and leave it to the reader to explore independently to discover additional functionality.

Administration

The administrative side of Atheer is a browser interface that allows you to manage users, author Taskflows and view utilization statistics. When you sign up for Atheer you will be given a URL for the browser interface and login credentials. Logging into the system, the first thing that you will see is a status screen showing some basic information about the current state of the users.

Adding Users

Users are added and removed at the “Admin Users” screen.

Interestingly, when you add a user you are only given the opportunity to add their name and email address, and then select a role. The admin can only add and remove users. The users have individual control over their information in the system.

The roles can be either Admin, User, Remote Expert or Guest Expert. The role definitions are:
Admin – Customer admin level permissions with access to manage user accounts, configurations, full reporting as well as capabilities of other security roles
Expert – Authoring, file management (content files and contextualization), limited reporting, limiting configuration
Guest Expert – same as Expert, but limited to only have access to their data
End User – Primarily uses mobile app. On app, only sees their data (if multiple users share a device). On a browser, has read only access to certain areas. Can author Taskflows and can manage their Content Assets.

Once the user is added, they are sent a “welcome” email and given the opportunity to add their phone number, position, location and set a password. Or, if they are using Office 365, they can use these credentials. If you need to change any of your user information, this can be done later using the browser interface.

Taskflows

We will start by looking at what Atheer refers to as Taskflows. Taskflows are sets of instructions to be followed by remote users. Instructions can be any number of the following items:
• Task Step – text instructions
• Barcode Step – The user is required to read a barcode with a specific value before they can continue. This can be a means to verify that the user is working on the correct instrument for the Taskflow
• Condition – A decision block that leads to two different potential flows based upon the result of the condition
• URL Step – A link to a URL based resource.
• Note Taking Step – Where the user documents values by either taking a voice note, taking a photo or recording a video.

Designing Taskflows

The Atheer browser interface provides a very easy to use drag and drop interface to create Taskflows. Taskflows can be created by clicking on the + icon at the bottom of the Taskflow summary screen. An existing Taskflow can be edited by clicking on the pencil icon which is shown when you place your cursor over a given Taskflow row.

When you create a new Taskflow you are shown the empty editor screen with Start and Stop icons.

To add an operation simply select the operation that you wish the user to perform and drag it into the editing area.

Once you have placed the operation, connect it to the Start and Stop icons by dragging the circles on the top and bottom, respectively, to the icons. Then you will need to fill in the fields associated with the operation and attach images and/or videos, if relevant.

One of the things which can be a bit misleading is the fact that your operation attachments are not displayed until you scroll down the properties card. The error display below the properties card always takes up the same screen space even when there are no errors present.

When you are done editing the Taskflow, simply click on the check icon at the top right hand of the display. This will save your work and return you to the Taskflow summary screen.

One nice feature of the Taskflows is that for auditing purposes you can see a summary of changes to the Taskflow by looking at the history.

Usage Auditing

One very important aspect of any Field Service app is to be able to audit usage. For this purpose, Taskflow usage is tracked and can be found under the “reporting and analytics” icon .

The Atheer App

Atheer supports a multitude of remote devices:
• Apple iPhone 6, 7, 8, and X (iOS 12 and later)
• Apple iPad and iPad Mini Gen 2+ (iOS 12 and later)
• Google Pixel 2 XL
• Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8 Phones
• Samsung Galaxy Tab S2/S3
• Moverio BT-300/350
• ODG R7
• Realwear HMT-1
• Toshiba dynaEdge
• Vuzix m300

Each device 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. With the iPad, for example, the work environment was not visible in the background of the display. Clearly, with Smart Glasses, this will be different.

Logging into the Atheer App

Once you have the App installed, the first time you use it you will need to sign into the device. The process for this is relatively unique. First, log into the web-based facility using the login information provided to you by Atheer. Then, click on the “sign in on device” icon found at the top right hand of your browser. This will bring up a QR Code that you would then need to scan with your App.

To scan the QR Code, you will first need to start the App and tap on the icon to the left of the text “Click here to add user”

From there you will be given a screen that requests you to scan the QC Code created from the Administration application. You can scan the QR Code directly from your computer screen or you can print it off via a screen capture and scan from that.

Once the QR Code is scanned, you will be required to enter a 4 digit PIN. There is nothing special about the PIN except that you will notice that the numbers are scrambled. This is an interesting security step to help ensure that anybody looking over your shoulder doesn’t easily determine the PIN entered.

Once you successfully add the PIN, you will then be able to use the App.

Taskflows

While you can explore the interface at your leisure, one of the most important tabs for our purposes is the folder where the Taskflows are stored. Tapping on this gives you access to your Taskflows. Tapping on a Taskflow initiates its execution.

Before you start, it is worthwhile to note that there is currently no intuitive way to abort a Taskflow once it has started. If you need to abort a Taskflow, then simply click on the folder icon and select another Taskflow

When a Taskflow step is shown, you will have the instructions at the very top of the display and controls at the bottom. If there is an attachment associated with the Taskflow, the background of the attachment button will be green. You may notice that in the first step, the icon for going back one step has a grey background, indicating that it is disabled.

If the step has attachments, simply tap on the attachment icon in the middle to bring it up.

Return to the Taskflow by tapping the “back” icon at the top left of the display.
If the Taskflow step is a decision block, you will be prompted to determine which direction to take.

If the step requires that you document something, you will see this because the right arrow to the next step is replaced with a documentation icon.

The type of documentation required is defined in the browser interface, with the options of Photo, Video or Voice.

The documentation you take in this step is automatically uploaded and stored as a “Content Asset”.

Assets

Assets are stored media – image, audio, or video – that is either captured while a Taskflow is executed or created for consumption by the remote user.

Content is an individual asset such as a pdf, jpg, png, mp4 or obj which can be shared to a mobile device user by an expert or admin.

Context is just-in-time media that can be downloaded by the mobile device. An admin/author can create a QR code and link one or more assets to the QR code. An end user can scan the QR code using the mobile device and download just-in-time information linked to the QR code. These can include files such as pdf, jpg, png, mp4, obj and Taskflows (step-by-step guidance).

The creation of a Context Asset is a three-step process. First, you need initiate the creation of the asset by clicking on the plus icon at the bottom of the screen . When you do this, you will see a new icon showing up that is used to create a QR Code.

Click on that icon and you will get a dialog for creating a QR Code. Each QR Code needs a title and a value. Because the values have to be unique, it is probably easiest to take the ransom code generation option.

Once the QR Code is created it will be displayed to the right of the QR Code summary.

The next step is to link Context to the code. You do this by clicking on the button at the top right of the display. From there you will be taken to a dialog for adding assets.

Simply drag and drop the assets to the right side of the Asset Viewer and save when you are done. When this is done, the QR Code can be downloaded, curated and printed out for use in the field.
In the field, the codes are accessed by using the QR Code icon on action bar in the app.Communicating with others

Communicating with Others

One of the most important functions of the Atheer tool is to allow for remote users to communicate with the central helpdesk or whoever else they need to assist them. This is accomplished by tapping on the “directory” tab on the right. The user list is derived from the user list on the Web Application, which you can see under the “admin users” tab .

As is common practice, the status of the user is visible from the directory view and contacting them is simply a matter of clicking on the icon associated with them. After this, you are given a choice of entering a chat session or making a video call.

If you create a chat session you have the ability to manually enter messages or to enter predefined text.

A video call can be established from here by tapping the “video call” icon. You can also return to the directory by tapping the “directory” icon.

When making a video call, you see the call connection being established.

And once the remote side picks up you will through your camera.

If the recipient, hereafter referred to as the desktop user, is on the Admin site, they will see a notification of an incoming call and who is calling, assuming that browser notifications are enabled. A notice will display if they are on the Atheer interface in the browser even if notifications are not enabled. Notifications will allow a notice to appear similar to a Windows notification if the browser is not active.

Once the call is connected, the browser user will automatically see the camera of the remote user.

Image Annotation

It is important to note two very significant design details of the video connection.

First – the remote user cannot annotate the video stream. If they want to show something, they can point it out with their finger or some other pointing device.


Second – the browser user can annotate the video, but only as an image. Specifically, when the admin user wants to annotate, the click on the pencil icon on the bottom right of the screen and still frame of the video that they can edit will be uploaded.

Once the image is uploaded, the pencil icon is replaced with a close icon and a series of annotation tools is shown on the right side of the bar.

While options here are complete, Atheer hasn’t yet given any of the icons on the bar hint text, so you may have to experiment a bit to know precisely what everything does.

Once you are finished editing the image, you can save the annotation by tapping the save icon, at which time the annotated image will be sent to the remote user. After the remote user is finished reviewing the annotation, the admin user clicks the close icon and the video streaming resumes. One issue I have with this is that the remote user has no control over what happens during this interaction. They are completely at the mercy of the admin user’s actions.

Conference Calling

Additionally, one very important feature of Atheer is the ability to conference in additional users. This is capability is limited to the browser user and is enabled by clicking the add connection icon at the bottom of the screen.

The browser user can also screen share by clicking the screen share icon, but just be careful that when you are finished, you select the remote user’s screen again, otherwise you will see through your own camera. You select the remote screen by clicking on its image on the top right-hand corner of your display.

API Interface

Atheer has an integration studio of available APIs that are exposed based upon customer demand. The API interface is not included in this evaluation.