Experts may soon have an easier and quicker method of supporting on-site technicians without having to step outside their office, by using an augmented reality system developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Communication (information processing and ergonomics), Wachtberg.
The system allows technicians to record the malfunctioning machine with a camera fixed at the back of their laptop monitor. The computer is mounted on a swivel arm, so that the technicians can view the screen while carrying out repairs. An image processing programme calculates the camera's position and direction of view and sends the information to the manufacturer over standard telecommunications networks. This enables experts to view the machine on their monitor from the same perspective as the technicians.
They can even use the software to write instructions on specific parts of the machine. These instructions pop up on the technicians' screen on exactly the same part of the machine. If a technician walks around the machine with the laptop, the image moves accordingly, while the written information remains where it was intended to be. Once technicians carry out the experts' instructions, the pop-up information can be deleted by simply clicking on it. The system is based on a chat protocol, in which everyone involved can communicate through the chat function or by telephone.