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How mixed reality is disrupting delivery of remote services including training and maintenance for industrial plants


Given the complexity of industrial plants, the opportunity to receive training and support remotely through mixed and augmented reality can save significant costs explains Simran Bagga, Vice President at Omnix Engineering & Foundation Technologies

“The primary benefit value of this reality is the manner in which the digital world blend into a person’s perception of the real world.”

Simran Bagga, Vice President at Omnix Engineering & Foundation Technologies

A combination of imaging, digital, and computing technologies is helping businesses and consumers to create entirely new hybrid worlds involving virtual and digital objects in real-time.

Augmented reality is the experience of interacting with the real-world through computer-generated perceptual information, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory, according to Wikipedia. Augmented reality takes place in a physical world, and digital information and digital objects are added virtually on top of real-world objects like an overlay.

The most beneficial use cases of augmented reality are when dynamic semi-transparent and even opaque displays are overlaid on images of the real-world allowing imaging, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory interactions to take place in real-time.

Virtual reality on the other hand is a simulation of the real world or any world using immersive digital technologies. The best examples of virtual reality are immersive video games and 3D video theatres. The worlds of virtual reality are not real and there is no real-time correlation and connection with the real world. Virtual reality immerses its users into a completely virtual world that has no connection with the physical world.

While augmented reality adds benefits and changes the users’ perception of a real-world environment, virtual reality totally replaces the user’s real-world environment with a simulated one.

Moving further, mixed reality is said to exist when real and virtual worlds are mixed to create new environments and visualizations. In a mixed reality environment, physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality is therefore a hybrid of augmented reality and virtual reality. And this reality exists in a world that is a hybrid of the physical world and the virtual world.

Mixed reality is creating some of the most disruptive use cases and requires real-time interaction and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects. The primary benefit value of this reality is the manner in which the digital world blend into a person’s perception of the real world.

It is not just a simple presentation of data, but rather integration of immersive sensations, which are perceived as natural parts of the real world. And that is the real power of mixed reality.

Remote locations and mixed reality

Mixed reality plays a very important role in remote support. Remote assistance using augmented reality allows businesses to provide the same high-quality services that are usually delivered on-premises, delivered remotely. It allows field technicians using their mobile augmented reality compatible devices, to have access to instant and high-quality support wherever they are working. The use cases include training machine operators on new equipment and processes, and training personnel in health and safety, amongst others.

Field support engineers are able to leverage mixed reality whether they are working in a factory, at home, or in a remote rig. Wherever they are, they have access to the most skilled resources who can view their location and their equipment in real-time and provide guidance using the data overlays as part of the augmented reality experience.

Since highly skilled engineers do not need to travel to the site, this saves travel costs, provides rapid remediation services reducing downtime, and saves on the cost of professional services.

Augmented reality headset panels, that clip onto hard hats can project hands-free instructions that a technician needs to conduct an inspection or repair a system. Augmented reality animations help to reduce errors by displaying steps, tools, and parts. They also provide checklists and sensor data, and can visually demonstrate which parts to adjust, remove or replace. Dependency on physical manuals is eliminated, and augmented reality enables this information to be presented visually.

Another benefit for businesses is in the upskilling and training of their engineers. Using augmented reality, engineers no longer need to travel to distant classrooms and institutions. Now they can receive instructions and classroom demonstrations on their augmented reality panels as if they were inside the real-life classrooms themselves.

Given the complexity of industrial plants, the opportunity to experience real-life training before entering these environments is invaluable. Companies can save significant costs by leveraging augmented and mixed reality services from specialized channel partners.

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