David Cabañeros Blanco Computer Vision & Extended Reality Lead

Remote assistance based on augmented reality

The concept of remote assistance enables an expert to visualize and intervene, in a limited way, on systems accessible through a remote connection. For example, in the case of IT support, the intervention could happen by connecting to the equipment in question to diagnose and solve a problem related to its software.

However, when the diagnosis and / or solution to the problem require visualization and intervention on physical elements, it is necessary to have a mechanism able to bring closer the real and virtual world. The use of augmented reality in support processes in the field represents one of the applications with the highest degree of maturity and adoption in different sectors, proving its effectiveness in increasing productivity and in minimizing errors while reducing drastically intervention times and costs.

What is and how a remote assistance system works on augmented reality?

When a customer faces a problem that requires the assistance of an expert, he will traditionally make him a phone call. In it, the client will try to describe the problem on his own terms, selecting those details that he considers relevant. Starting from them, the expert will try to identify the problem and from then on, will communicate to the client the instructions to follow in order to solve it.

This method can be effective in cases with high repeatability for which correct procedures are well known . However, it is not very efficient in most cases and also not very effective when the problem to be solved deviates minimally from usual.

A remote assistance system based on augmented reality relies on a real-time image streaming channel, from which the remote expert has a direct perception of the problem. In this way, we already have the "eyes" of the expert on the physical stage, which is essential in the diagnostic phase.

On the other hand, at the time of the intervention, the client is able (thanks to bidirectional streaming) to visualize an augmented layer of information on the real stage through graphic elements, such as indicators, geometric shapes, images or documentation. With this, the "hands" of the expert move to the place of intervention. The client only needs to follow the instructions he perceives through the augmented reality layer and execute them as instructed.

What applications does remote assistance have on augmented reality?

Remote assistance using augmented reality has applications in very diverse sectors. Some examples are the following:

  • Insurance companies. Insurers will find great value in the use of augmented reality as a remote support tool applied to claims management. Experts contact the insured using this means, facilitating and speeding up the damage evaluation processes. The results are immediately noticeable, both in expertise cost reduction and in the increased customer satisfaction with the service.
  • Suppliers of industrial machinery. As part of the support and maintenance plan, these companies can offer their customers an innovative assistance service, with high added value for both parties,  immediacy for the customer and savings in travel and intervention costs for the supplier.
  • Service companies. Support technicians can evaluate the problem first hand from visual information, which allows to assess with greater certainty the need to send a technician to the place. It is also possible to plan the intervention, necessary materials and field coordination before executing it, minimizing the possibility of making mistakes.
  • Technical support. In providers of technology and communications, customers usually require assistance of support technicians to solve various problems with the equipment and its configurations. A layer of augmented reality helps to guide the client visually and interactively.

Conclusions

The combination of augmented reality technology with communication systems based on videoconferencing represents a collaborative solution with great potential in remote support. It is more efficient -and especially effective- to follow a strategy based on visually demonstrating the action to be executed, so that the client manages to interpret  and execute the instructions in an agile and uncomplicated way.

In the industrial and services sector, these tools allow you to achieve a competitive advantage and added value for your customers, increasing production and reducing waiting and intervention times. Using augmented reality a collaborative space is created, where the person who faces the resolution of a problem will be constantly supported by a remote expert from a support centre.