Many industries are discovering the advantages of Remote support and Remote assistance. There are several ways to approach this topic; for instance the Argus system that utilizes large machines, or the more subtle approach of companies like RealWear that enhance the view of employees using augmented reality. It’s this second application that we will examine in this article. How can the RealWear AR smartglasses be used for Remote support and how does the Realwear HMT-1 compare to other products?
What is RealWear not?
In order to examine the HMT-1 headset on its own merits, it makes sense to compare it to other products that can be used for Remote assistance. Here are three products that are definitely not RealWear:
1. Not a Daqri headset
The current CEO of RealWear Andy Lowery was formerly involved with Daqri. This company designed a futuristic helmet that seemed to come right off the set of a Star Wars movie. This versatile mixed reality product can best be compared to the Microsoft HoloLens, and delivers similar features. Lowery was not convinced the large form factor is the right solution for industrial use and jumped ship to RealWear. So it’s not a large and high powered mixed reality device.
2. Not a Magic Leap device
On the other end of the spectrum we have the sleek looking Magic Leap 1, another mixed reality wearable. This product is decidedly smaller in form factor, although the SciFi design is definitely still present. Where the Daqri headsets were aimed at industry professionals, the Magic Leap 1 seems better suited for gaming and creativity apps. Although the concept is promising, the lack of business oriented features make for a limited use. So it’s also not an entertainment device.
3. Not an Argus Remote support system
A very different solution comes from Argus Remote Systems, a company that builds gigantic machines that can be operated remotely. This solution eliminates the human presence from the location, which is certainly beneficial in some circumstances. In many cases actual people are still important to perform manual operations, for those situations Argus is not a valid option. So it’s also not a ‘human free’ solution.
So … what is RealWear AR?
Now we have determined what the RealWear HMT-1 is not, we have to examine what it is and how we can use it. In simple terms it’s an Android based wearable headset with one small monoscopic screen that is able to display a multitude of information. A high resolution camera, noise-cancelling microphone and high fidelity headphones are built into the headset.
There’s no option for advanced 3D graphics, the screen can be rotated so the user is not obligated to look to or through a screen. Unlike the Daqri headset the form factor remains compact, and unlike the Magic Leap 1 the HMT-1 is specifically aimed at professional use. This means an IP66 certification with water resistance, drop proof and dust tight.
How to use the Realwear AR smartglass for remote support
There are a couple of options upon purchasing the RealWear smartglasses. There’s a standalone version that can be worn on the head with an adjustable headband, there’s also a version that can be attached to a helmet for use in hazardous locations. The main feature of this particular product is the 100% hands free operation.
This is achieved by using four microphones that sample the environmental noise and filter it out. This way speech is clearly rendered, even in noisy environments. The same principle applies to the built-in headset, that remains clear even under challenging circumstances.
Controlling the device
The RealWear system is built on the Android operating system, this industry standard will speed up software development. The company has already partnered with various application builders so a robust selection of apps is already available. The apps are optimized for voice control, it’s not necessary to swipe, scroll or tap. This allows for full hands free operation that will prove to be very useful in all kinds of situations.
A potential drawback for continuous use is the battery. The RealWear HMT-1 form factor doesn’t allow for a powerful and heavy battery pack. This could diminish its usability for Remote assistance, however the field swappable design solves this issue. If a person has to work in the field without the option to recharge, extra battery packs are a must-buy accessory.
The small display does not take over the complete field of view. This means that operators will be able to observe their surroundings clearly, with additional augmented reality information when it’s required. This is a very different approach compared to virtual reality devices that completely take over the natural view point. The RealWear wearable is designed to be user friendly, long training sessions are fortunately not required.
For AR Remote support the RealWear HMT-1 is currently one of the most advanced products on the market, built on a customizable platform for industrial use.