“It’s so surreal,” said Boon Leong. The technician was standing in front of a stalled industrial printer at an HP manufacturing partner facility in Malaysia, when the printer’s authentication device began to appear in his field of vision. “I can see everything!”
A few minutes before, he had placed a Microsoft HoloLens 2 mixed reality headset on his head — just like you would a pair of goggles. When he turned it on, a friendly face appeared in his field of vision. It belonged to Karen Ng, an HP expert in Singapore who had remotely joined him for a live troubleshooting session using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist AR software. “OK, here’s what we’ll do,” Ng said, as she guided him through the steps for renewing the security keys that had expired.
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Augmented reality (AR) technology allows manufacturers to rapidly repair machines and improve production, onboard new hires, upskill current employees, retain the institutional knowledge of recently retired workers, and enable highly technical customer service from afar. They can also tap AR to improve compliance and safety, cut costs associated with travel, and reduce their carbon footprint. This type of immersive technology, which usually involves a headset or smart glasses and specialized software but can also include tablets and smartphones, is leading manufacturers into the metaverse and opening up new opportunities for the future.