Faster Maintenance with Augmented Reality

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Faster fix: A U.S. Marine technician wears an augmented-reality headset as he carries out a maintenance task inside an armored vehicle. Credit: Steven Henderson and Steven Feiner

This article in Technology Review is a very good example of the use of AR in a Reverse Logistics scenario.  It demonstrates a real world use with quantifiable benefits.

Columbia University researchers have developed an AR system that allows Marine mechanics to perform a maintenance routine in approximately half the time traditionally taken.

The Columbia researchers worked with mechanics from the U.S. Marine Corps to measure the benefits of using an AR headset when performing repairs to a light armored vehicle. Currently, Marine mechanics have to refer to a technical manual on a laptop while performing maintenance or repairs inside the vehicle, which has many electric, hydraulic, and mechanical components in a tight space.

A user wears a head-worn display, and the AR system provides assistance by showing 3-D arrows that point to a relevant component, text instructions, floating labels and warnings, and animated, 3-D models of the appropriate tools. An Android-powered G1 smartphone attached to the mechanic’s wrist provides touchscreen controls for cueing up the next sequence of instructions.

I’d love to see this being applied more widely in the technology repair industry.  Keeping abreast of all the designs and build methods of the equipment we repair is one of the biggest challenges for us at Service Plus.  AR systems could dramatically improve our performance and ensure consistent service levels.  Obviously, there are also significant benefits in developing countries.

A great video of the system here.

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