Augmented reality innovation is changing hardware support

By: Eugene Young | Co-written by: Ignacio M Sierra Ruiz


Augmented reality is making its presence felt in the modern work environment in a number of ways — and one of the more novel use cases lies in the field of hardware support and repair. Join our upcoming webinar to learn more about IBM’s Augmented Remote Assist platform, which enables techs to model and transmit live-work environments with remote product specialists for a smoother and more effective repair process.

Maintaining the high-tech gear that populates the enterprise requires specialized skills that few organizations can afford to retain in-house. Not to mention, even trained technicians encounter situations that exceed their expertise. This requires lengthy consultations with product specialists or deep-dive research into system specs and other documents. All this takes time and drives up the cost of equipment lifecycle management.

At IBM, technology support specialists now have access to our Augmented Remote Assist platform, a mobile application that utilizes Augmented Reality to efficiently guide the repair process to a successful conclusion.

Simplify the support experience

IBM’s Augmented Reality platform empowers standard smartphones with advanced computer visualization tools and 3-D modeling to enable technicians to capture and share real-time images of the technical issue they encounter and create live interactive voice and video links with remote product specialists.

The key to this system is the software’s ability to anchor images in place to allow graphics and annotations to remain in place even as the live image shifts within the screen. This gives both the field technician and the remote specialist unparalleled flexibility to highlight trouble spots or system components using arrows or other graphics — these can be seen by the remote viewer, but they aren’t lost as the view is reoriented within the camera.

This ability to relay visual instructions linked directly to the 3-D model also provides a crucial context for the repair process. Techs can see what needs to be done and how to do it in real time. This method is vastly superior to the standard practice of consulting with off-line materials, which must be cognitively translated to the task at hand, often with varying degrees of success.

Another advantage is that this modeling capability is handled completely in software and is product-agnostic: It requires no additional training in object recognition or algorithmic processing by the technician — just point and click and the model is created automatically. This is a distinct improvement over standard marker-based tracking solutions or systems that require special camera technologies that tend to provide limited scale.

Indeed, the simplicity of the system is one of its greatest strengths. It can be easily downloaded and installed on any iOS or Android device, and the intuitive interface allows on-site and remote technicians to communicate as if they were right next to each other. It can also provide support to any IBM product in virtually any environment, all while addressing a full range of maintenance challenges.

Lower costs, better results

The system delivers substantial benefits to both the enterprise and the consumer. Both the efficiency and cost of maintenance operations are significantly lowered. Technicians facing new or unfamiliar technical problems get connected to senior experts quickly and directly to solve any problems that may occur. It also gives the technicians an opportunity to serve a greater number of clients at once, since they no longer need to visit each site personally.

The system also provides a more effective means of capturing the tacit knowledge and experience of the maintenance workforce, enabling technical knowledge base to expand rapidly.

Meanwhile, our customers benefit from the reduced human error during routine maintenance as well as an emergency repair — not to mention a more rapid return of their devices to active status and shorten wait times for specialized repair jobs.

Currently, IBM’s Augmented Remote Assist platform is available to IBM tech support agents, but a user version is expected later this year, giving customers a unique advantage to perform their own repairs under the direct guidance of IBM support professionals.

Even in the age of software-defined infrastructure, hardware still matters. The longer critical systems are down, the greater the load on surrounding resources and the poorer the return on investment over the life cycle of the equipment. Giving technicians immediate access to the right know-how for any situation is the ultimate win-win-win: It makes their job easier, lowers the cost of support operations and, most importantly, makes consumers happy.

To learn more about IBM’s Augmented Remote Assist platform, watch the below video and check out our upcoming webinar


About The Co-author

Ignacio Sierra Ruiz

Ignacio Sierra Ruiz

World Wide Innovation Program Manager (Augmented Reality), IBM Technology Support Services

Ignacio has worked close to 16 years in Services and Maintenance Business, Support, Proactive Service Management and emerging technology management at TSS. Ignacio’s current role focuses on the adoption and implementation of Augmented Reality cross IBM platforms and Geographies. He envisions Augmented reality and immersive technologies as the next digital transformation revolution

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About The Author

Eugene Young

Global Leader for Augmented Reality, IBM Technology Support Services

Eugene has worked close to 20 years in product development, strategy, new ventures, and emerging technology management at IBM Research, Nokia Research, Nokia Finland/USA, and Verizon Wireless. Eugene's current role focuses on furthering the use of Augmented Reality tools to enhance IBM Technician's ability to perform remote problem resolution in a faster and more accurate... Read more