Expert assistance using VR and AR glasses
The Sovelto project experiments with using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) glasses in revolutionising service work. With the help of the glasses, an experienced expert can support a novice with the help of remote access as if they were present in the same room.
What kind of problem is the project trying to solve?
The maintenance of industrial, logistics and built environments employs over 200,000 people in Finland. The objective of maintenance is ensuring reliability. The importance of preventive maintenance and competent repair work grows continually as the society gets increasingly more technical. The installation tasks in building and transport industries are also becoming increasingly more versatile and demanding.
Installation and maintenance applications are expected to be among the most important uses of VR and AR glasses. This will reduce the number of unnecessary maintenance visits, the need for qualifications and the number of errors and increase the possibilities of using remote maintenance significantly.
The use of VR and AR glasses is expected to grow into a market worth a hundred billion euros in early 2020s.
Objective: More confidence for maintenance workers
The service is based on the VR glasses worn by the assisting expert, pointing devices paired with the glasses, and AR glasses worn by the maintenance worker or technician.
The projected concept is as follows: The field technician carries AR glasses with a sufficient data connection, the expert wears VR glasses and data gloves. A 3D image and the voice of the technician will be transmitted to the expert, and the expert’s hands will be merged to this image by using VR technology, as if the expert was in the same room and in the same position as the technician. The hands of the expert will be shown in the technician’s field of vision in the same position in relation to their surroundings as the expert sees them with their VR glasses.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the solution also makes it possible to archive all realised remote assistance events and maintenance tasks carried out without any problems. Thus, the archived instructions and successful maintenance tasks can be reviewed when getting ready for a similar task, even if a data connection or expert was not available when performing a maintenance task. The technician can also view instrument manuals and tutorial videos using the same equipment, even if remote assistance was not used.
What is done in this project?
- Procurement of essential VR and AR glasses that look promising according to the preliminary study that will be on the market;
- Experiments with the glasses in continuous professional use;
- Construction of a VR and AR glasses assembly and software that allows tasks 1 to 3 to be realised;
- Examination of data communication needs and other boundary conditions;
- Examination of usability and practical benefits;
- Organisation of workshops to assess the results;
- Organisation of a closing seminar;
- Pilot studies of the tasks of each participant.
- Remote assistance in a manner that allows the technician to see the expert’s hands on site while the expert shares the same view.
- The use of AR glasses in marking and observing maintenance tasks.
- Archiving maintenance tasks and accumulating a collection of archived instructions.
In the long run, the availability of the necessary data on the glasses benefits a large group of actors in the fields of installation, maintenance and field service. For service providers and third-party actors, this makes it possible to develop the aforementioned value-adding services.