“I believe virtual or augmented reality will take off first in a business to business context and Nokia’s augmented reality for the field force is an excellent example of this,” said Joe Hoffmann, Vice President Strategic Technology at ABI research, following a demonstration of Nokia Augmented Reality at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.
He’s right. The biggest buzz at MWC 2016, was the Internet of things and virtual or augmented reality (AR). And while long lines of tech savvy visitors tried out the Nokia OZO virtual reality camera, equally large crowds were gathering to see a demo on how Nokia Augmented Reality for the field force, can reduce the field costs and improve quality associated with managing a communication network.
Introducing Augmented Reality for the field force
The promise of this application is to reduce human error in resolving trouble tickets by nearly 20%, significantly speeding up resolution time and empowering a wider base of engineers to solve complex jobs. Here’s how it works. With Augmented Reality for the field force, the field engineer receives a view of a physical network element such as a base station or radio network controller using any device with a camera and display, ie. his smartphone or tablet.
In practice, the field engineer scans the serial code of the network element with his device, which then summons the alarms from Nokia NetAct. He then receives a visual overlay on his device of the alarms and a set of instructions to follow in order to resolve his trouble ticket. The AR glasses come into play when he needs free hands to work on the resolution. This technology will help him resolve the trouble ticket much faster so he can move on to his next field job. And there’s no need to tote heavy manuals and paperwork along, as it’s all stored centrally and can be updated remotely.
As an initiative of Nokia’s Care Mobile Networks business, this solution is complemented by Nokia global delivery center experts, who will closely support the field force using the augmented reality technology for 24/7 monitoring and network performance improvement. If a field engineer has trouble solving his ticket, he’ll have the option to set up a remote video call with a Nokia expert in the global delivery center. The remote expert gains an immediate view to the field engineer’s location, the trouble ticket in question, and can see the physical network element on his screen so that he pinpoint where the field engineer should replace a cable, for example.
Communication service providers were able to experience this AR application live at the Nokia booth during MWC16 and were very enthusiastic. By slipping on the augmented reality glasses, everyone had a chance to step into the world of a field engineer and resolve the alarms and the live video call over a tablet in action. With the majority of the costs of managing a communication network still in the field, AR will definitely show its worth in the B-to-B arena.
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