Is Augmented Reality (AR) the future of industrial maintenance? In March at the CeBIT in Hanover we presented possibilities for using AR in service and maintenance processes. The visitors could experience an industry-related scenario, supported by the Microsoft HoloLens glasses and VIOS AR.
Our demo was about the process of examining an aviation component for material deficiencies.
The component could be examined by using an Ultrasonic Measurement Device. The procedure is called Non-destructive testing (NDT) – evaluating the properties of a material or component without causing damage. Usually a technician has to look at the monitor of the device, which the Measurement Device is connected to, in order to see results. With the HoloLens there is no need to do this, which allows for more efficient work. Within the demo the technician can see suspected damage areas as well as the scan results. This way he is guided through the inspection process.
But how was the AR Demo received by our visitors? Does AR have the potential to improve service processes and make them cheaper or does it make them more complicated?
To answer these questions, we collected feedback from our visitors at the CeBIT.
The HoloLens offers modern technology and is available in Germany only since November 2016. That’s why it was interesting for us to know, how many of our visitors had used a HoloLens before. Only 18% had prior experience using it, while 82% tried it for the first time at our booth. The result shows that the topic AR and the HoloLens don’t have a high presence right now, unlike for example Virtual Reality (VR), which has been presented frequently for several years.
The next questions covered our AR demo. First we wanted to know, if our demo was designed consistently and easy to understand. There were four possible answers: Very negative, Negative, Positive or very positive. Only 3% answered with negative and found the demo to be difficult to understand. The overwhelming majority (97%) found their way around and 60% even gave a very positive answer.
There was also next to no difference between first time users and users with HoloLens experience.
The next question handles the usage of the HoloLens. We wanted to know, if the demo is easy to use, or not. Again a majority of the visitors (88%) answered the question positively. But this time there were also very negative answers as well as 9% negative. The cause for this can be partly explaines by the comments of the users. The small field of view of the HoloLens was mentioned multiple times. This is justified by the compact design by using it near the head. More computing power would lead to a high heat build-up. But the first impression lessens after a short time, and the wearer gets used to it. Additionally, in some cases it can be useful to see the reality without influences.
Occasionally the gestures used to control the demo did not work optimally. This shows again how new the technology is, and how gesture control can cause problems when using the HoloLens for the first time.
The central question for us was: Is the use of AR and the HoloLens advantageous in this kind of scenario, or in other words, does it make completing the task easier? This is crucial to see if Augmented Reality has the potential to be used in service and maintenance. And actually 100% of our visitors thought that the task could be completed easier with the HoloLens und VIOS AR. More than half (58%) even saw a significant simplification.
Especially the results of the last question showed us the potential of Augmented Reality to strongly influence digital service processes in the future.
Overall, our AR demo was well received with our visitors, both in design and in usage. And the scenario used is only one possible application of AR in industrial service processes.
If you want to learn more about VIOS AR with the HoloLens, do not hesitate to contact us.