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Microsoft HoloLens and field service

As the new team of four fresh-faced graduates in Empired’s Adelaide office, we were tasked early with coming up with an efficient and viable use for the Microsoft HoloLens device, one that Empired team could potentially bring to clients.

Empired Graduates and the Microsoft HoloLens

The four of us – Bethany, Kyla, Clayton, and Aron, started at Empired in late 2018, each of us starting down different paths. While Bethany joined the Project Management Office team, Kyla and Aron joined the Digital & Experience Design team with Kyla focusing more on front-end and Aron on the back-end, and Clayton joined the Dynamics Solutions CRM team.

We bonded quickly due to our complimentary-differing personalities and skills. In order to cement our growing team-like structure, as well as utilise our fresh perspectives, the Empired team gave us a project for the HoloLens device that had, up until this point, gone unused.

The initial idea was to create an application to suit a current client. We started the brainstorming process, with guidance from some of Empired’s longer-serving team. For each of the ideas we raised, we would soon learn it was already a polished solution. Guidance from other members of the Empired team gave us a new perspective – let’s take what we already have, and integrate it with the HoloLens, much like how smartphones and tablets have been integrated with business processes over the recent years.

Finally, we had a project. We were to come up with a solution using Microsoft Dynamics and the HoloLens in order to provide an efficient, worthwhile package for our clients to integrate with their current processes. After looking at the HoloLens capabilities we decided field service optimisation would be a good process to tackle.

The HoloLens is a mixed reality computer in the form of a headset. Users wear the device and use familiar Windows and Microsoft interfaces to interact with their data and applications in an augmented environment. The device uses a combination of sensors and cameras to digitally track the environment so that it can be used as a workspace. Further sensors allow for gesture and gaze interaction, and built-in speakers allow for immersive audio. It is a new paradigm in computer interaction, but one that is worth the effort, as it is bringing about inspiring digital transformations.

Aircraft giant Boeing is utilising the HoloLens to train their staff in complex and expensive tasks such as installing electrical wiring on an aircraft. With 3D augmentation capabilities, trainees are able to see and better understand the layout of the wiring by moving around the aircraft whilst wearing the HoloLens and seeing it for themselves. Trainees can also bring up wiring diagrams and place them wherever they desire in the augmented environment whilst completing the task, making for easier, cleaner, and safer training.

A HoloLens application released by Microsoft under the Dynamics umbrella, Remote Assist, is the cornerstone in our project. Remote Assist allows users to call each other through Microsoft Teams software. When a call is made through the HoloLens, the recipient can share the HoloLens experience. The recipient can share documents and pause the view at any moment and make annotations over it, which translate to live 3D shapes and drawings in the HoloLens user’s view, providing a far more beneficial experience for this context than standard telephony. We decided to create our solution around this, as it is a powerful tool for field service.

As it currently stands, our project consists of two pieces. First, a presentation outlining the aforementioned topics (HoloLens technical specifications, use cases, etc.), as well as what we consider to be the business values of our solution. Secondly, a demonstration where we present a hypothetical, generic use case to showcase our solution. The solution essentially creates a modernised workspace by integrating Microsoft Dynamics and Teams with the HoloLens technology and utilising the Remote Assist application for field service.

Think about a field service scenario, where all relevant information is stored in a cloud-based service. A technician would generally need to use a tablet or smartphone to access this information while on-site. With the HoloLens, they can just access this information and leave it anywhere within their real environment, freeing their hands to work safely.

With this solution, we expect to increase business process efficiency, improve customer satisfaction and staff confidence, thereby increasing reputation.

Our solution aims to bring together existing and widely-used software such as Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Teams, and the new and exciting augmented reality workspace through the HoloLens device. The HoloLens is not a replacement within business process automation, but rather a worthy addition.

We have presented our project to our own team here in Adelaide, and representatives from Telstra and Microsoft, with great feedback. We look forward to bringing the project to the Graduate Bootcamp in Perth in February, as well as beginning to put this solution in front of clients within the coming months.

Posted by: Bethany Kamitakahara, Graduate Project Coordinator | 07 February 2019

Tags: HoloLens, Microsoft HoloLens

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