Augmented reality unlocks remote technology support for a new normal

How to maximize the value of expert technology support from a distance

By | 2 minute read | June 16, 2020

Let’s get real about augmented reality. Unlike virtual reality, which plunges a user into a digital world, augmented reality technology is used to layer virtual elements over a user’s real environment. Augmented reality technology is widely known for its use in popular mobile games like Pokémon Go, but the practical applications of augmented reality go far beyond entertainment.

Augmented reality enhances the real world everywhere, from retail apps that allow a prospective customer to see what a piece of furniture would look like in their living room to medical aids that superimpose digital images and critical information into a surgeon’s field of view so they never have to look away from the procedure.

And, to cut to the chase, augmented reality is an effective tool for reimagining technology support in a post-COVID-19 world. Now more than ever, businesses around the world are searching for ways to support employee health through social distance without sacrificing critical business operations.

Augmented reality is the key to unlocking a whole new stratosphere of remote support — for field technicians and clients alike.

Technology support from a safe distance

No matter how experienced they are, field technicians are likely to come up against unfamiliar or complicated repairs. “Imagine you’re an engineer in the field,” said IBM Services Emerging Technologies and Innovation Leader Kevin Wahlmeier. “You’re on a client site and they have a tape drive for backup, and you haven’t seen one before. You pull up your augmented reality app and connect with a support agent for a walk-through of the procedure.”

In the best of times, discovering an IT problem and waiting for a technician or specialist to arrive can be a lengthy, frustrating process. Augmented reality can help clients bypass this part of the process altogether, which is even more critical during this time of social distancing.

Using an augmented reality app, the support agent can see what you’re doing and overlay virtual elements to direct you, said Wahlmeier, “Arrows to say, ‘Stay away from this because it’s hot,’ or circling the screw that needs to be undone, or even directional information like which direction to turn the screwdriver,” he said. Similar to the support available for field agents, remote support agents are able to guide clients — even those with little to no technical background — through repairs with the help of visual guidance and instructional overlays.

“Augmented reality has really opened up the world of real-time technology support,” said Wahlmeier, “It allows remote support providers to assist users almost like they are standing right next to each other.”