Smart glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) software: What was initially used mainly by the gaming industry is now open to a wide range of applications. In the industrial context, 5 clear benefits of smart glasses software are crystalizing to convince company after company that it is time to venture into the brave new world of AR. Read on to learn more and dive into success story examples from leaders in the automotive, logistic, and food and beverage industries. [by Stinne Mattle]
The Benefits of Smart Glasses Software
Benefit #1: Hands-Free Workflow Support Increases Efficiency
Frontline workers and technicians in industries across the board need tools that support them to work more efficiently in highly complex setups.
Compared to paper-based information or information provided via smart phones or tablets, smart glasses have several BIG advantages as they:
- allow workers and technicians to get relevant visual information while keeping their hands free to continue the task at hand.
- can be voice command-enabled so workers can pull up relevant information while handling machinery. Again, this allows for a continuous, more efficient workflow.
- can cut training time in half because newcomers can take a “learning by doing” approach to new tasks with visual step-by-step guidance on what to do next.
Compared to a process where instructions are available in paper form, frontline workers can perform a workflow 37% faster with a lower error rate and higher confidence when supported by smart glasses with augmented reality software.
Benefit #2: Instant Remote Expert Assistance Reduces Costs
With the right smart glasses software, it’s possible to boost the collaboration between on-site and remote experts and save service costs significantly. How? Whenever an on-site worker or technician faces a technical problem they cannot solve, they can use their smart glasses to directly contact a remote expert and share a live stream of what they are seeing with them while discussing how to best solve the issue at hand.
This bidirectional video and voice communication enables teams to:
- Solve problems faster and more cost-efficiently
Smart glasses software enables immediate expert-supported error analysis. This empowers on-site technicians to confidently service more units within a working day, which again translates to saved costs.
- Reduce travel-related costs
Remote expert assistance eliminates travel costs otherwise incurred by the expert service technician.
- Minimize machine downtime
Those who can have their maintenance processes performed remotely significantly extend the life of their machines. Importantly, downtime can also be reduced in this way, which in turn translates into saved costs.
- Increase customer satisfaction
Exceptional and first-class service increases customer satisfaction. This does not require additional resources thanks to Smart Glasses software. Instead, AR technology supports companies all along the way.
- Facilitate onboarding
Rapid knowledge transfer allows junior technicians to benefit from steady field training. Thanks to remote visual support, they can easily take on tasks on their own.
- Close knowledge gaps
Instead of relying on emails or phone calls, technicians have permanent access to expertise. This allows knowledge to be passed on in real time.
Benefit #3: The Maturing Hardware Market Provides a Good Fit for Everyone
Since 2011, when Google introduced the very first pairs of smart glasses aimed at the consumer market, the available hardware has rapidly expanded with a variety of form factors to also cover different industry needs. Brands such as RealWear, Vuzix, or Microsoft have allowed the future to gain a foothold in the industry today.
The use case, the working environment, and the users themselves decide which glasses model does the trick:
- Models that consider specific light conditions, noise levels, dust, dirt, and moisture, or high or low temperatures
- Models that are very robust (and hence heavier) or quite light (and hence more fragile), so companies can select a suitable model that balances out the concern for workers comfort with the environment the smart glasses must endure
- Models that come with different camera resolution and microphone quality to cater to different needs
- Models that come with different wi-fi options, battery performance, and operating systems, which in turn define the overall performance, price and suitability
Here are more tips on how to select the right smart glasses hardware.
Benefit 4: Hands-Free Instructions Improve Workplace Security and Ergonomics
The ability to use both hands is a major security advantage of smart glasses. For example, it is a lot safer for a logistics worker to climb a ladder using both hands instead of operating a hand scanner in elevated positions.
The punctual display of safety instructions directly in a worker’s view can also reduce the potential of injury in high-risk occupational fields, utilities, or in production.
Step-by-step instructions increase security by indicating temporary prohibited zones, e. g. for tests in laboratories, or notes on hygiene regulations.
Less Strain and Better Ergonomics
Overall, the fact that smart glasses are worn, not carried around, improves workplace ergonomics because there’s no risk of the one-sided strain that comes with holding and operating a phone or tablet for a daily 8-hour shift.
In addition, warnings about ergonomically questionable situations can be displayed directly on the glasses, for example when unhandy or heavy parts need to be handled as is often the case in industrial environments.
Benefit #5: Tailored View Options Open New Dimensions
Smart glasses software is very flexible when it comes to what information is displayed and how it is displayed in a worker’s view. The right software can adapt to the specific needs of a work setup and process to boost workers’ output significantly.
- Retain full view for optimal work safety
Depending on the display option available, workers retain a full field view while seeing essential information on a transparent or very small untransparent screen in front of their eyes. This is a major advantage in industries where a restricted view can be dangerous, e. g. construction sites.
- Make processes more intuitive with mixed reality
Selecting an AR solution enables you to take the industrial workplaces to the next dimension by providing workers with digital information, three-dimensional elements, and multimedia content that helps them execute tasks in a more intuitive, interactive way.
- Create, interact with, and modify 3D product models
With virtual information or holograms placed in the real world, you enrich your employees’ reality by adding spatial instructions to objects for visual process guidance or letting them interact and modify 3D models of a product. Mixed reality is already in use in maintenance and quality assurance processes where smart glasses display 3D models of complex objects to workers as a guide on what parts to check on the real-life object.
A Glimpse into the Very Near Future of AR
Driven by the advancements of smart glasses and AR technology, the industrial metaverse is no longer as futuristic as it may sound. As the real-life examples of this article point out, companies are already using AR and MR solutions today.
The trend makes it clear that the entire value chain is being digitized. The automotive industry is a good example of this: for production, employees must be trained, logistics must be managed, parts must be assembled, and quality control must be carried out. All these processes can be digitally supported and mapped in the industrial metaverse. Nevertheless, the industrial metaverse is still far from receiving the attention of its consumer counterpart. However, this may change in the very near future as even more companies and industries start putting AR into action to harvest its clear benefits.
What is the Industrial Metaverse and how well does the public know it?