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AR For Remote Assistance: A True Game Changer

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🔴 Sometimes, the biggest obstacle preventing a customer from receiving a service is not cost or availability, but rather distance. Even in our highly interconnected world, situations occur when customers live in remote regions with no option to get service quickly, or even when the service is quite rare and not represented in all cities where customers reside. Such circumstances might seem hopeless at first glance, but can often be counteracted with remote assistance, or even better – remote assistance through AR.

◈ How do remote assistance and AR work?

Remote assistance traditionally refers to the provision of support and service through various forms of communication – voice and video calls, text messaging and chat, mobile apps, and web platforms. The listed approaches are far from perfect, but they can be improved with augmented reality (AR) technology, which allows digital elements to be projected on real visuals (e.g. live camera footage) with certain devices (usually smartphones, tablets, or smart glasses). Let’s take a look at how and why the technology is being used in this field.  👇

◈ Benefits of the AR Approach for Business

Many businesses are already using online and mobile tools to support their customers and employees, but AR makes the service superior through multiple benefits:

1. Faster data analysis

AR technology focuses on analyzing footage and identifying objects in a camera stream. Applications of this type often have pre-programmed markers (images of an object) that it will detect in a photo or camera stream, and the process often happens much faster than a person looking at their surroundings and identifying a particular detail. Consequently, someone can just aim their camera at a piece of equipment, and their AR app will provide information and/or digital visuals in seconds as opposed to sharing the image via message and waiting minutes for an expert to identify it.

2. More relevant and informative visuals

🗨 In addition to speed, the tracking systems of AR apps do a much better job of providing accurate and relevant information. To begin with, remote specialists are quite limited in their approach to identifying objects and issues affecting them. They might ask for descriptions, photos, or a video to get a grasp of the issue, and even they sometimes make mistakes. On the other hand, a well-crafted tracking system will analyze many factors around an object in a live camera feed and can make a more accurate judgment about the situation. Accordingly, the information and/or visuals that the AR app then displays will be more relevant and better tailored to the user’s surroundings.

3. Improved automation

🎯 Given the advanced tracking and visualization systems present in AR apps, they can take on many of the functions typically delegated to support specialists. The application can include step-by-step support for dozens of situations and scenarios, so users are able to resolve issues by themselves. However, it is unlikely that this type of solution will replace support staff entirely, as not every problem encountered by users can be prepared for, and there are also times when the hardware and software fail to make the right determinations.

4.  Ease of development

👉 Just 10 years ago, AR was an unknown concept to most businesses and developers, with only a select few companies (like Layar) paving the way for the technology to thrive. Today, AR development services are thriving with thousands of developers working in this field. Furthermore, Android and iOS have embraced the technology and provided the tools (ARKit and ARCore) to build such software for their platforms with no hassle. Thus, the creation of such solutions should not be thought of as much more complex than ordinary app development.

5.  Standing out from the competition

🗨 For service providers competing with other companies for market share, the elaborate level of support provided through remote assistance with AR could be the game-changing factor that puts their business ahead of the rest of the pack. Besides outshining competitors, this approach should also impress users and give them a better experience more closely tailored to their circumstances.

Where can AR Remote Support be Used? 👈

Given the broad capabilities of AR, it can be used in nearly every industry – even support for online services. Still, certain industries lend themselves to the technology best, and some examples are below:

● Automotive

Helping drivers make repairs or learn how certain features work. Making the jobs of mechanics/salesmen easier with quick scanning and information

● Retail

👥 Customers can use their devices to navigate stores more easily and find needed products faster. Employees can train to quickly identify where products are located and how goods are organized.

 

● Healthcare

Patients and their caretakers are guided through medical tasks, medical readings are made clearer and visualized. Medical staff can quickly interpret results and provide recommendations.

● Utilities

Workers at utility plants and stations can quickly troubleshoot issues, share relevant footage and data, preview changes to facility functions.

● Military

Servicemen can learn how to work with equipment properly, scan gear and objects for potential dangers, and get accurate descriptions of various items.

👉 And many more

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating AR experiences.

Where is AR Already Being Used for Remote Assistance?

With thousands of businesses already using AR in their operations, it is safe to say that hundreds have applied it to remote assistance. Some prominent examples include: 👇

1. CITIC Telecom

The CITIC Telecom company has a massive amount of infrastructure that must be kept in working order, and AR is helping with this. Their field engineers and maintenance staff are using AR devices to troubleshoot issues with equipment and boost productivity by over 50%.

2. Scandinavian Health Ltd

With the recent lockdown and quarantine measures, many auditors are not able to come to work. However, the company has invested in smart glasses, which are worn by employees that do visit their facilities and allow the auditors to see the data crucial to their work visualized.

3. Renault

Renault is a French automaker that integrated AR devices to improve cooperation with dealerships. Using the special software and hardware, Renault engineers can cooperate with dealership technicians to resolve warranty issues, reducing the need for engineers to visit the dealerships.

4. Nestlé

The giant food corporation Nestlé is applying AR technology to improve collaboration among its various production and R&D sites. Specialists in the facilities are linked with the software and can easily share photos and video streams, files, visualize systems and processes and therefore work more efficiently.

 📖 Conclusion 👇

At the most basic level, AR-based support answers the biggest demand that people in need of help have – show, don’t tell. Though voice and video support are helpful in many situations, augmented reality apps provide can resolve most troubleshooting situations much faster and more accurately, as long as the proper care and attention to detail are invested in their development. As the approach grows and grows in popularity, we see a rising number of businesses use it to their advantage.

🗨 In case you are interested in the implementation of AR technologies to enhance your business processes or accomplish other goals, you can contact any of the numerous companies that provide AR services. One of the leading companies presented in the matrix above is Program-Ace – an AR development company that has worked with immersive technologies since they first appeared on the market. Whichever company you choose will be lucky to have you, because the implementation of new tech in your business will allow you to stay a few steps ahead of your competitors.

 

↘ Source: 👤 Mikhail Shcherbatko is a creative writer, translator, movie buff, and fantasy book fan. Writing guest posts for Program-Ace, he strives to bring useful insights to the masses. 🔚

 

AR/VR

Solaris Offworld Combat’s Squad Update Allows Friends to Teamup

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Current Oculus exclusive Solaris Offworld Combat launched back in September, offering team-based multiplayer combat. Yet there was no way to define those teams, or more importantly buddy-up with mates. That’s due to change this week with the ‘Squad Update’.

Developer First Contact Entertainment says the feature is its ‘most requested’ since launch, which is no surprise seeing that teaming up with friends is a highlight of online multiplayer. The studio does note the feature is ‘still in its infancy’ but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

The Squad Update will also include a bunch of other additions. There will ‘Fury Major’, a new map which has been “redesigned to focus on more centralized player engagement and close quarters combat” notes the team. Stamina cooldown has been altered so that you can ‘enjoy unlimited sprinting with a cooldown that happens only if you spam slide’.

Players will get new daily XP bonus and weekly challenges to work towards plus there are a couple of tweaks to make the gameplay more immersive. The option to slide by crouching in real life will appear as well as being able to move both arms independently while playing.

At the moment Solaris Offworld Combat only supports Oculus Quest and Rift but First Contact Entertainment has previously confirmed Steam and PlayStation VR versions are on the way. The latter was originally slated for this year, with time quickly running out.

Solaris Offworld Combat is a 4v4 arena battle shooter, offering one gameplay mode called ‘Control Point’, where teams have to hold a specific location. Every player starts a match exactly the same, with a singular pistol, finding better weapons and other bonuses hidden in each arena.

As further update details are released, VRFocus will let you know.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/12/solaris-offworld-combats-squad-update-allows-friends-to-teamup/

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CREAL Raises $7.2 Million to Bring its Light-field Display to AR Glasses

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Switzerland-based CREAL is developing a light-field display which it hopes to bring to VR headsets and eventually AR glasses. In November the company raised CHF 6.5 million (~$7.2 million) in a Series A+ investment round to bring on new hires and continue miniaturizing the company’s light-field tech.

Creal says it closed its Series A+ investment round in mid-November, raising CHF 6.5 million (~$7.2 million) led by Swisscom Ventures with participation by existing investors Investiere, DAA Capital Partners, and Ariel Luedi. The new funding marks ~$15.5 million raised by the company thus far.

Over the last few years we’ve seen Creal make progress in shrinking its novel light-field display with the hopes of fitting it into AR glasses. Compared to the displays used in VR and AR headsets today, light-field displays generate an image that accurately represents how we see the real world. Specifically, light-field displays support both vergence and accommodation, the two focus mechanisms of the human visual system. Creal and others say the advantage of such displays is more realistic and more comfortable visuals for VR and AR headsets. For more on light-fields, see our explainer below.

Light-fields are significant to AR and VR because they’re a genuine representation of how light exists in the real world, and how we perceive it. Unfortunately they’re difficult to capture or generate, and arguably even harder to display.

Every AR and VR headset on the market today uses some tricks to try to make our eyes interpret what we’re seeing as if it’s actually there in front of us. Most headsets are using basic stereoscopy and that’s about it—the 3D effect gives a sense of depth to what’s otherwise a scene projected onto a flat plane at a fixed focal length.

Such headsets support vergence (the movement of both eyes to fuse two images into one image with depth), but not accommodation (the dynamic focus of each individual eye). That means that while your eyes are constantly changing their vergence, the accommodation is stuck in one place. Normally these two eye functions work unconsciously in sync, hence the so-called ‘vergence-accommodation conflict’ when they don’t.

On more advanced headsets, ‘varifocal’ approaches dynamically shift the focal length based on where you’re looking (with eye-tracking). Magic Leap, for instance, supports two focal lengths and jumps between them as needed. Oculus’ Half Dome prototype does the same, seems to support a larger number of focal lengths. Even so, these varifocal approaches still have some inherent issues that arise because they aren’t actually displaying light-fields.

Having demonstrated the fundamentals of its light-field tech, Creal’s biggest challenging is miniaturizing it to fit comfortably into AR glasses while maintaining a wide enough field of view to remain useful. We saw progress on that front early this year at CES 2020, the last major conference before the pandemic cancelled the remainder for the year.

Through-the-lens: The accurate blur in the background is not generated, it is ‘real’, owed to the physics of light-fields. | Image courtesy CREAL

Creal co-founder Tomas Sluka tells Road to VR that this Summer the company has succeeded in bringing its prototype technology into a head-mounted form-factor with the creation of preliminary AR and VR headset dev kits.

Beyond ongoing development of the technology, a primary driver for the funding round was to pick up new hires that had entered the job market, Sluka said, after Magic Leap’s precarious funding situation and ousting of CEO Rony Abovitz earlier this year.

Image courtesy CREAL

CREAL doesn’t expect to bring its own headset to market, but is instead positioning itself to work with partners and eventually license its technology for use in their headsets. The company aims to build a “complete technology package for the next-generation Augmented Reality (AR) glasses,” which will likely take the form of a reference design for commercialization.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/creal-light-field-display-series-a-plus-investment/

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Flight Combat Game ‘Project Wingman’ Launches Today with SteamVR Support

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Project Wingman, an aerial combat game for PC, has launched today after beginning life as a successful Kickstarter in mid-2018. In addition to traditional monitor support, the game is fully playable with SteamVR headsets.

Update (December 1st, 2020): Developed by Sector D2 and published by Humble Games, Project Wingman launched on Steam today with support for SteamVR headsets (as well as regular monitors), priced at $25. The original article, which offers an overview of the project, continues below, now including the launch trailer.

Original Article (November 27th, 2020): The game, which was born out of a successful Kickstarter back in mid-2018, lets you fly a number of fighter jets across various missions and game modes, something the game’s Steam page says will range from “intense aerial dogfights to large scale ground assault in an alternate scorched earth setting.”

Now Sector D2 says VR support for Project Wingman is arriving at launch, which will provide a “1:1 experience with traditional players,” which puts you in the cockpit for some high-flying dogfighting against users with regular monitors.

Image courtesy Sector D2

Although you’ll be able to use any traditional controller, be it a HOTAS setup or gamepad, VR motion controllers are unfortunately not supported at this time. The team investigated motion control support during early prototyping, but it sadly never made it past the testing phase.

“If there’s enough demand we can try reinvestigating it, of course, as it was an interesting novelty, and an option for those of us without controllers,” the studio says.

Users playing in VR will likely need a higher than min-spec VR-ready computer to run it without a hitch. Lead developer Abi Rahmani says that, while using his Windows VR headset, he was able to playing at “very playable frame rates cranked all the way up at 150% render scaling.”

Granted, the following components below shouldn’t be considered officially recommended specs, but it should give you an idea of how the game will run on your computer.

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz
  • GPU: GTX 1070

To see VR support in action, check out full mission ‘Operation Blackout’ played in VR below:

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/project-wingman-vr-release-date-steamvr/

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Quest 2 Stock Starting to Slip Following Cyber Monday

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Following Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020, Oculus Quest 2 stock is starting to slip, with estimated deliveries between two and three weeks in most countries for the 64GB model.

Updated – December 1st, 2020

At the launch of the headset, Facebook told Road to VR the company was planning to make “many more” units of Quest 2 than the original Quest headset, which was very difficult to find during the previous holiday shopping season.

Despite additional challenges to manufacturing and logistics due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Quest 2 stock has been relatively easy to find from both Oculus and third-party retailers up to this point, but following Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2020, estimated delivery dates are starting to slip.

Oculus Quest 2 & Rift S Stock Check

We checked stock availability for direct purchases from Oculus.com for Quest 2 (64GB), Quest 2 (256GB), and Rift S across all regions where the headsets are sold. The latest shows shipping delays of two to three weeks for the 64GB model in most regions. The delays are greatest in Canada, Ireland, and United Kingdom, with estimated deliveries just a day or two before Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, the 256GB version of Quest 2 remains largely available with prompt deliveries in most countries.

See chart for: 11/23/20 | 11/25/20 | 11/26/20 | 11/27/20 | 11/29/20 | 11/30/20

Rift S availability is also holding steady so far, though less demand for the headset is expected considering Oculus has announced the Rift product line will be discontinued in 2021 as the company fully shifts focus to standalone VR headsets with optional PC tethering.

Where to Buy Quest 2 and Look for Stock

We expect to see Quest 2 stock becoming increasingly scarce this holiday season. If you’re unable to find it direct from Oculus, here’s a complete list of official third-party retailers in each country, including the local MSRP so that you know you’re getting the right price.

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/buy-oculus-quest-2-stock-black-friday-cyber-monday/

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