We all know the expression ‘the devil is in the detail’, meaning that when you do not concentrate on the details of something you may run into unexpected problems. Problems on large projects can often be attributed to small mistakes that were overlooked. This expression certainly applies to a lot of ‘frontline’ work done by maintenance operators, quality inspectors, field service engineers or surgeons and other healthcare workers. The ability to collaborate in real-time and visualize contextual details without physical approaching can be very important to do the job correctly.
Remote assistance as a game changer
The pandemic has changed remote assistance from being an exciting approach that a best-in-class section of the industry were adopting, to a primary method of working to solve on-site problems. The tools are certainly there: there is a wide variety of smart glasses on the market and the remote assistance software solutions have matured and become widely available.
The final goal of remote collaboration is that a problem can be solved fast and in a correct way. To do so, smart glasses are a perfect tool: the glasses wearer can speak in real-time with a centrally located subject matter specialist, who can follow via live-streaming. He sees exactly what the on-site operator sees and can guide him to find the right solution. As smart glasses are head-worn and can be operated using voice commands, the operator keeps both hands free to do the job.
For the subject matter specialist to give the best advice, the position and quality of the cameras is of utmost importance, since the images captured by the cameras are the input for the remote assistance session. Good images give the best overview for the remote expert and are the basis for good ‘assistance’.
Two different cameras in 1 pair of smart glasses: safer and more efficient
1. Central camera to capture the real human perspective.
The position of the camera capturing the images for remote assistance are not a ‘form factor’ issue but rather a vital ‘functional’ issue. In order the capture what you would see with ‘your own eyes’ the best position of the camera is in the middle of smart glasses, between the eyes of the operator. Each of our eyes see a slightly different image. The brain, by a process called fusion, blends these two images into one 3-dimensional image. Central cameras imitate that natural function. Not only does it reflect the way human eyes look at a certain situation, it also follows the movements of the operator wearing the glasses in the most natural way.
2. Zoom lens to capture important details.
Most smart glasses have 1 camera, capturing images with the same resolution and focus all the time. This means that an operator has to approach an object, machine, patient etc. in order to give a closer view on the situation. Moving your head close to a complex machine, a patient on the operation table, or a dangerous located instrument can be dangerous or at least feel ‘unnatural’. That’s why having an additional zoom lens on smart glasses is more than a gadget. In some industries, it can be of vital importance for both operator safety and quality of the remote assistance guidance.
Why a zoom lens makes all the difference
1. Better diagnosis of a situation during a remote assistance session
For a remote subject matter specialist, it is important to see all the information he needs to give the best advice to the on-site operator. Imagine a service engineer on-site trying to fix a problem to a complex sterilization machine. He calls a remote expert and explains the problem while streaming the situation. But zooming in on the exact calibration of some critical parameters can be crucial to fix the problem.
2. Visualize details that are hard to reach
Imagine a maintenance engineer on an oil rig, hanging on a safety belt meters above sea level. Using a smart phone to visualize a technical issue is not an option, for safety and practical reasons. But even visualizing the details of the situation at hand wearing smart glasses is difficult since switching position is dangerous or impossible. This a where the zoom lens is vital. The zoom lens can be operated by the remote expert via the remote assistance software, of by the operator using voice commands.
3. Switch between long and short distance barcode scanning
Order picking is one of the most important process steps in logistics. Fast and correct barcode scanningis a cornerstone of a modern warehouse. But packages come in all sizes and shapes, so it’s not always possible for the warehouse operator to pick up the package and scan from a short distance. Smart glasses with a built-in zoom lens make it possible to scan barcodes from 2 meters distance. Also constant switching between long and short distance scanning is made possible. That’s why Iristick smart glasses are used to innovate the airfreight industry.
Benefits of a liquid lens
1. No mechanical movement, saving on weight and space
Inspired by the functionality of a human eye, liquid lenses offer manufacturers and OEMS improved speed and reliability over mechanical solutions. The human eye can adjust to the surrounding environment at incredibly fast speed. Similarly, liquid lenses emulate the eyes’ fluid and adaptable characteristics to create a rapid response to variable circumstances. This process is made possible by a technology called electrowetting, which uses an electrical signal to manipulate a liquid solution into a workable lens.
2. Can be used in both ATEX and non-ATEX environments
Being one of the unique elements of the Iristick product range, the lenses have been designed to be fully intrinsically safe. The liquid lens has no moving parts and the electronic circuits have all been redesigned and tuned to be below intrinsically safe thresholds. Additionally, the entire control-circuit has been connected to protection circuitry in the ATEX design. All these measures make the zoom-lens intrinsically safe by design and avoids the need for additional potting. Another smart way to reduce weight and increase user comfort.