What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality will provide the user with an interactive experience, where the object/device in the real world (user/device side) will be enhanced with the AR app-generated information. The basic features of AR are a combination of the real and virtual world, real-time interaction, and accurate 3D registration of virtual and real objects.
Augmented reality works by adding the digital content/image from a live camera and making the image look as real as the actual device around the user. Also, it will add sound effects or digital visual elements to the image that has to appear to the user.
Where can it be used?
Augmented reality technology can be applied in almost all fields like retail, marketing, education, healthcare, etc. AR technology can be applied within the medical field in numerous ways. One way would be to view the specific human body system as a highly detailed, 3D image that can help the medical students/professionals in their training. This can be achieved by just pointing the mobile camera onto the body system. As augmented reality technology matures, the usage of this technology has also grown in healthcare, ranging from patient care to medical equipment servicing/support.
In health care, AR technology can also be used in physical therapy, in-flight medical emergencies, pain management, digital impressions on dental work, testing medical devices, and so on.
AR in medical equipment servicing:
The servicing of medical equipment is challenging, as it needs to be addressed immediately and requires knowledgeable dedicated resources. Without AR, repairing or troubleshooting such machines was a lengthier process going back and forth among lab technicians, service persons, and product experts, which aggravates the inconvenience for the clinic or hospital team.
The medical equipment downtime should be reduced/avoided because it can even risk the life of patients who need immediate medical attention.
The advancement of AR technology and its use in servicing medical equipment reduces downtime and human intervention. Also, it helps to give the solution quickly. With the usage of AR, even the complex equipment with so many hardware/software components can be easily serviced, and issues can be resolved remotely with the AR app installed on mobile.
How can an AR app be used in service?
Step 1: Identifying the problem/equipment
The service person will have an AR app installed on his mobile/tablet/google glass. With google glass, the technician will be hands-free to perform any action/repair work. When the technician sees the equipment with the glass/mobile, the camera will capture the equipment. With the image recognition technology, the device will be compared with the database content available on the AR app. This will help identify the model of the equipment or even the problem in it.
Step 2: Fetching relevant AR data
Now the app will access all the AR data (voiced guide, tips, scenario steps) relevant to the problem. With these tips, if the technician is confident, he can make a decision and resolve the issue by making adjustments.
Step 3: Augment in real-time
The image recognition algorithms used in the AR app will help to dynamically augment the live camera feed with text, videos, or 3D objects. This step will provide the technician with more possible solutions, with illustrations to guide him in resolving the issue. If the technician could not arrive at a solution, he can even contact the engineer/expert by using the video call option available in the app. This way, the expert can see the augmented content, which is made available to the service person, and he can suggest the solution immediately, which will reduce the service time considerably. It helps to reduce the downtime of the machine as well.
Additional features in AR app
Along with these options, an AR app can also have video communication to interact with engineers, service persons, and users. They can also have chat options to communicate among them. This feature can help the service person to guide the user more effectively.
The success of the AR-based equipment service depends mainly on AR content preparation. Even though the AR content preparation is a long-term and costly procedure, it will reduce the other costs like technical training, skilled professional recruitment, and also the travel time of the service person.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” So the time/cost spent on content preparation will help with effective and continuous maintenance.
Implementation of this technology in medical equipment servicing will not affect the existing workflow and can be easily adaptable in the field, which will help gain a market for such apps. Even though one can argue on the time/cost spent on data collection, providing effective equipment service is more important for the growth of the business and to gain the trust of customers. So, we can see a bright future for service companies that adopt AR in servicing their devices.