Overcoming Barriers to Technology with Pilot Programs

Overcoming Barriers to Technology

When a company  starts to research the use of Augmented Reality, or any technology new to your organization to help improve  maintenance operations or training, the first moment of truth is critical.  As we engage our clients in designing pilot evaluations of AUGMENTOR™, concern over whether a workforce will take to the Microsoft HoloLens is inevitable. In almost any job, if a worker is suddenly asked to wear an AR headset their natural instinct will be to wonder why. Most of the apprehension stems from three concerns:

  • The workforce is aging and may not be technically savvy enough to use it
  • They won’t bother for fear of looking foolish
  • Maintenance technicians are resistant to change, happy with legacy solutions

These are valid concerns. In the transportation industry, which craves modernization, faces a shortage in technicians and suffers from less than ideal work conditions, not addressing these challenges can lead to failure. These concerns are also reasons why DI recommends engaging in a pilot evaluation. A pilot evaluation engages technicians immediately and prevents frustration by making them critical members of the evaluation team. It is inevitable that not all feedback or experiences will be positive – the key is to design the pilot such that this feedback evaluates the technology and not the person.

1. Set expectations

The most critical aspect of any technology introduction is to set clear expectations of your goals. DI’s AUGMENTOR™ for example, uses the HoloLens and its use will not be perfect day one. The expectation that it will must be tempered. Additionally, no two enterprises are the same. Personnel, policies, management style, work structures, etc. are always different. A pilot needs to be planned early, including how to introduce technicians to the technology. Allow them to use it and be very clear about what the limitations are. The technology introduction period is also a great opportunity to involve your personnel in crafting the metrics you use to evaluate the solution and make them feel as though they are a critical part of the feedback process.

2. Engage users in the feedback process

The goal of the pilot is not just to evaluate effectiveness, but to get valuable feedback. The feedback provided will be used for decision making and future technology adoption plans.  To ensure quality feedback, the pilot has to incorporate periodic evaluations from the team. The pilot structure must be designed in a way where feedback is continuously received. Engaging users in how they are doing with the headset and what are they finding difficult is critical for not only pilot success, but long-term implementation. Depending on the organization feedback can be provided on a daily or weekly basis. The key is inclusion – not seeking or accepting feedback and soliciting ideas for best practices is a recipe for pilot failure. You will not be able to overcome the barriers of technology adoption  if you don’t engage your personnel.

3. Choose champions not just participants

A pilot requires an executive champion, someone influential that guides the group. However, there should also be a champion at the team  level who is adequately trained on the headset prior to the pilot kickoff. A trusted technician who can be relied upon to ensure the evaluation is carried out as designed and solicit feedback from co-workers. Notice they are not selected to ensure the hardware or software is ultimately adopted, rather they are chosen to help make the pilot a success. A successful pilot is determined by collection of valid data following an extremely thorough evaluation. The champion can make sure the headset gets worn and the software is used as intended. They can bring challenges to the success of the pilot to the leadership team early and often and help course correct as needed.

4. Adequately train technicians

When transitioning the team from static training, PowerPoints and worksheets, to fully immersive virtual training can be a challenge. From adjusting to wearing the HoloLens to navigating the hand gestures. With a properly implemented pilot program your team has the ability to learn and adjust to the technology.  We have had the pleasure of teaching many technicians of varying age and experience how to use the HoloLens. There is almost a universal law of usability as it relates to the HoloLens. If you can learn to coordinate head-tracking and the finger gesture to select (the equivalent of point and click on a mouse), the rest comes easy. Focusing on training the basic interaction through gesture, head tracking and voice first will make learning software like AUGMENTOR™ inside the headset much easier. It doesn’t have to take long, but it should be structured and presented like anything else you train. It is easy to overlook these basic interactions, but without them, your team will perceive the software as very difficult to use.

5. Don’t underestimate your technicians

During one initial demonstration, a fleet maintenance manager was adamant that his older technicians would not wear any headset, let alone a HoloLens, exclaiming, “No way in hell they will bother with that thing.” Interviews with these technicians actually revealed a keen interest in the headset and AUGMENTOR™ with many of the technicians not only having already heard of augmented reality, but had played games or seen videos online. They were a lot more open to the concept than once thought, and if it could make them more efficient or offer a safer workplace, they were more than willing to give it a shot. One technician in particular spoke of purchasing a virtual reality headset for his grandson, but after first testing it out, decided to keep it for himself. We can’t underestimate the appetite personnel have for trying new things if the technology is positioned to help them.

The first moment of truth, often the introduction of an augmented reality headset, is critical. For organizations that are considering modernizing their fleet maintenance operations, a well-run pilot is paramount. It is your opportunity to introduce something new and exciting, but if not done strategically, it may put up walls instead of breaking them down.

For more information on AUGMENTOR™ and the pilot program click here or contact Matt Johnston at matthew.johnston@designinteractive.net.

Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.

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How Remote Collaboration Can Help You Stay Connected

Staying Connected

Trying to navigate through the worlds new normal of remote work, social distancing and distance learning can be tricky. With millions of people finding themselves in new work environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to stay up to date and connected is now more important than ever.

With the rest of the world temporarily on pause, the trucking industry has seen more demand than ever to transport the supplies needed to help meet the needs of grocery stores, gas stations and hospitals. Companies across the country are starting to look to digital collaborative efforts to help fill in the gaps that social distancing has created.

Credit: Smithsonian Magazine Senior shopping at empty grocery store

Trucking an Essential Service

Venture to any local grocery store and you’ll find one way directional aisles, limit 1 quantity signage and of course no toilet paper! As people flock to stores to stock up on their essentials, the trucking industry has been a pillar in helping to transport and provide the supplies for grocery stores, gas stations and medical facilities. Deemed as an essential service, enterprises have to remain operational to help meet the demands of supply needs for their communities.

Some shops have resorted to having fewer technicians on the floor or routing shifts to help slow the spread of COVID-19 within the shop. Implementing an augmented reality training solution can help to ensure that your offering a safe work environment, while maintaining communication and keeping repair cost and time low.

Stay Connected and Productive 

Remote Collaboration Video Calling provides technicians with the ability while working on a truck to contact other technicians and simultaneously see the procedures they need to execute in real time. This capability is important now more than ever as it allow for anyone within industry to remain connected to their techs while maintaining social distancing practices.  With  AUGMENTOR™, this capability helps to speed up the techs ability to solve a problem or complete a repair correctly.  This technology can help reduce down time and get trucks back on the road helping communities faster and safer. 

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The Road Ahead

In the coming weeks and months the United States will begin to reopen its doors.  The fact of the matter is, the manner  in which people interact, work and train has been altered permanently. How is your organization prepared to stay connected, productive and healthy?

For more information on how remote collaboration can help improve your maintenance and training process, contact Matt Johnston.

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DI’s AUGMENTOR™ Introduces Remote Collaboration Video Calling

Design Interactive’s AUGMENTOR™ , an Augmented Reality(AR) training solution for fleet maintenance personnel, vendors and OEMs, announced today the release of their latest feature, Remote Collaboration Video Calling (RCVC). “ Technicians now have the ability when they are working on a truck to contact other technicians or experts and simultaneously see the procedures they need to execute in real time,” said Matt Johnston, DI’s Commercial Solutions Division Head. “With this new capability, the AUGMENTOR™ platform becomes a highly interactive device. This speeds up the techs ability to solve a problem or complete a repair correctly.”

New Feature Connects Technicians Instantly

With RCVC technicians are instantly connected to several sources. From other technicians, managers and training personnel, techs now have access to procedures, OEM and/or manufacturer’s technical center. Also, while on a call technicians can access procedures they need to execute repairs in real time.

RCVC Makes Jobs Easier

For suppliers gone are the days where you physically need to go to a facility to solve a problem. Remote Collaboration Video Calling can be used to provide training modules, and document advice. Enterprises can also use the system to manage multiple calls or to follow up if call volume is high. Utilizing augmented reality ,video- and computer-based technologies, technicians can be effectively trained regardless of their environment. With AUGMENTOR™ you can ensure consistent training as well as shorter repair and diagnostic times.

AUGMENTOR™ also features a web portal for creating, editing and distributing training modules to Android, iOS ,and the HoloLens quickly and effectively across multiple locations.

The new Remote Collaboration Video Calling feature for AUGMENTOR™ is now available on mobile devices and in the AUGMENTOR™ web portal, and a version for HoloLens headsets will be released in the in first quarter of 2020.

For more information on how you can schedule a demo contact Matt Johnston at matthew@designinteractive.net.

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How Augmented Reality software AUGMENTOR™ is reinventing maintenance training

One of the largest annual aftermarket conferences is AAPEX, with about 161,938 attendees and 71,350 of those attendees being buyers. AAPEX is the place to be when it comes to learning, trying and potentially buying anything in the aftermarket space. Spanning two days industry professionals could expect to attend networking events and seminars in addition to exploring the booths of thousands of vendors. Design Interactive’s AUGMENTOR™ team partnered with MOTOR Information Systems to showcase how useful AUGMENTOR™ augmented reality technology can be to the automotive industry.

Companies have started to investigate augmented reality training software

Developed by Design Interactive, a family owned technology company,AUGMENTOR™ is an augmented reality software for maintenance training and repair. This software provides its users the ability to create, publish and apply their own content onto a Microsoft HoloLens or mobile device. In addition to the products ease of use, it is easily adaptable by automotive mechanics regardless of their technology level. However, with the need forr younger technicians to enter the field, automotive companies have started to investigate AR training and troubleshooting software to help attract the next generation of techs who are already familiar with this type of technology

AUGMENTOR™ brings interactivity and hands-on learning into the shop

Associated with MOTOR Information Systems, Design Interactive showcased its flagship product, AUGMENTOR™, to over 160,000 attendees. The partnership demonstrated a concept product that utilizes the more than 8.9 billion data relationships behind all of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. The concept demos utilized AUGMENTOR™’s new virtual equipment training functionality to demonstrate how easy it is to educate newly hired technicians.

The “F150 Demo” featured multiple parts of a 21-point inspection by demonstrating part location and identification, wiring & parts diagrams, OEM video instruction, and Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) info. Rather than offering technicians mobile and/or desktop video training solutions, AUGMENTOR™ brings interactivity and hands-on learning into the shop – even when training parts or classrooms are not available. This leap in instruction not only increases retention, but is the perfect tool for improving your techs knowledge during downtime between repair jobs. Using integrated MOTOR™ data, shop owners can be confident their technicians are receiving accurate and standardized training in an industry that is constantly evolving while not forgetting its roots.

Investing in technician training can be incredibly expensive considering the travel, shipping, and time costs associated with leading this effort on a per shop basis. With AUGMENTOR™, up-to-date repair procedures are rapidly shared across your enterprise over multiple locations.

Still on the fence about why your company should be investing in augmented reality?

Then check out our blog post here.


For more information on AUGMENTOR™ contact Matt Johnston at matthew@designinteractive.net

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Augmented Reality for Maintenance Training

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests there will be a shortfall of approximately 75K heavy truck service technicians by the year 2022 mainly due to retirements. That’s only 3 years away! This exodus of knowledge and skill is often termed the “silver tsunami”. The impending tsunami threatens to dramatically reduce maintenance productivity.

So why should a fleet, vendor or OEM invest in an augmented reality software like AUGMENTORTM? Not only are the next generation of technicians growing up in a world with augmented reality on their mobile phones, but the trucking industry is competing for this talent with industries that are already investing in this technology. Firms in manufacturing, aviation and utility sectors are making significant investments in augmented reality to support a significant amount of use cases including maintenance training and repair.

But why augmented reality?

#AR is the most effective way to train and instruct. AR keeps a technician’s hands on their tools head up, and can visualize real time data or provide instructional overlays otherwise buried in a binder or a difficult to search intranet database. In short, it keeps the technician productive and can accelerate their acquisition of knowledge because they can learn by doing, not just watching or reading. And in the case of software like AUGMENTORTM, experts can be empowered to rapidly share their knowledge too.

AR is more effective not just because it can be heads up, but because it is more interactive than solutions used today like YouTube videos.

Today, when an expert is called to help solve a problem, they have limited or no means to share how they solved the problem with other technicians, particularly those remote. AUGMENTORTM solves that. The expert can create step by step guidance, capture videos or use virtual sticky notes and audio clips. The guidance is stored in the cloud, downloadable by any other technician across the enterprise. Now a technician can reference the most up to date expert guidance hands free increasing productivity and reducing errors which increases uptime and decreases part and labor costs.

Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why you should invest in AR technology:

1. Hand’s Free: Unlike paper presentations, AUGMENTORTM is experienced through a heads up display. This keeps your hands free. Instead of holding pages from a training manual technicians can be hands on. This build muscle memory. A technician learns better while doing. With information heads up, they can measure a king pin or inspect the feel of potential irregular tire wear instead of flipping pages or using a mouse to navigate on the computer in the maintenance bay.

2. 3D Imagery: Printed repair guides may include 2D pictures or complex diagrams. Spatial AR like AUGMENTORTM present more detail in 3D holograms. Imagine a technician inspecting wear on a tire walking around 3D holograms of one sided or river wear, comparing directly to the tire on the tractor. Compare this to a 2 inch by 2 inch 2D close up jpeg of the same type of wear. Which content do you think would be more effective?

3. Spatial Visualizations : Currently if a technician needs a diagram they have to print it out and reference it every time they need to reference a certain procedure. Or with augmented reality technology like AUGMENTORTM , you could place that same diagram directly in their field of view. It is always available, in a convenient location. They can import a diagram, place it right in the field of view of a technician considering where they will be looking during their procedure. With augmented reality its always conveniently available.

The pool of qualified new candidates is shrinking

4. In the shop, in the classroom, it is flexible: When you need to train new technicians the trainer is typically confined to the classroom with PowerPoint presentations .With this type of training style it leaves room for errors, inconsistent training outcomes and increased repair cost in the future. with AUGMENTORTM you can train anytime anywhere. It allows your experts to import virtual models of the part that they wish to train on with step by step instructions to walk your technicians through the repair process. Resulting in a decrease in overall training time, an increase in compliance and higher training standards.

5. The next generation expects it: AR Is inevitable. Large companies such as Apple and Google have made huge investments in AR software and hardware. Others are following to enable software like AUGMENTORTM to run in the cloud. Therefore AR will available to everyone. You should expect the next generation will use AR daily on their phones very soon. Schools are using it to educate and vocational schools agree that it is a great technology to train new technicians.

AR is more effective not just because it can be heads up, but because it is more interactive than solutions used today like YouTube videos. Technicians will develop muscle and mental memory faster than VR or relying on printed documentation. As a result you will see a reduction in mean time to repair. The return on investment can be significant.

But you do need to start. They silver tsunami is real. Experts will leave a massive knowledge gap and the pool of qualified new candidates is shrinking. AUGMENTORTM can help. As a trusted maintenance expert once old me this “genie can’t be put back in the lamp”.

For more information on how an AUGMENTORTM solution can meet your enterprise’s problem solving needs, contact DI here or directly email DI’s Matthew Johnston at matthew@designinteractive.net.

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AUGMENTOR™’s Guide to Exploring AR & VR Technology

In this DI blog post, Director of Consumer Experiences Matthew Johnston dives into what considerations enterprises should make when selecting an AR or VR solution.

Replicate Your Experts™

The market outlook for Augmented and Virtual Reality is impressive. Price Waterhouse Cooper forecasts the augmented reality (AR) market to reach $83B and the virtual reality (VR) market to near $25B by 2021, with the technologies combining to cross $600B by 2025. This makes 2018 and 2019 critical to the growth of these technologies.

This also means that many organizations are beginning to explore how AR and VR can support their operations. The most common use cases currently are remote field maintenance assistance, procedural guidance in production settings and training.

However, this rapid growth also means that those unfamiliar with the technology are being task with investigating its value, purchasing solutions to evaluate the efficacy of their application to specific use cases or create a strategy for a digital transformation.

This can be overwhelming and DI is here to assist, providing a unique ability to develop solutions based on a foundation of human factors and ergonomics principles. Our software development team is supported by experts in human performance, perception, user experience design and training which enables our solutions to meet the needs of your user.

Do you know how a static 2D heads up display may impact the situational awareness and ultimately the safety of your employees? If not, we are here to help. We can help you create that proof of concept, evaluate the safety and comfort of the experience or assist in planning your digital transformation. The following topics are areas where DI can leverage our expertise to ensure you make the right choices in adopting AR and VR technologies.

1.) Choosing the Right Headset for your Application

It is all about optimal performance and experience. We evaluate your use case, environment and intended user population, then align those characteristics with the available headsets. Our team can objectively predict the headset that will permit optimal performance.

2.) Experts in Simulation and Cybersickness

Our team has decades of experience understanding how humans respond and perform in VR and AR environments. Our research, design guidelines and application of biometrics have improved the comfort and safety of amusement rides and training simulations for leading entertainment companies, manufacturers and defense contractors.

3.) Design and Build a Headset for Optimal Performance

Are you interested in developing a head mounted display for a specific application? Are you considering the appropriate environmental, task and user population characteristics? DI can develop system requirements for you and iteratively evaluate your hardware designs for your target use case. Get it right the first time.

4.) Understand the Value of AR for your Application

DI is offering a low cost pilot program for our AUGMENTOR™ software. AUGMENTOR™ is an augmented reality troubleshooting application that guides users through diagnosis and repair and has applications in operations and training. The pilot program provides you the opportunity to explore the value of AR and AUGMENTOR™ over a 3 month period with no long term commitment necessary.

5.) Custom AR and VR Development

DI develops custom augmented and virtual reality applications including medical training, industrial operations or collaborative, immersive solutions for the military. No matter the industry or application, DI can develop a solution.

6.) The Human Factors Approach

DI was founded as a human factors company and everything we design and develop for our customers is built on a foundation of user, environment and task characteristics. For example, if you are an industrial firm and concerned about safety, we understand how to design solutions that optimize situational awareness and cognitive workload. This approach means less errors, optimal efficiency, and greater user satisfaction.

7.) Choosing or building an effective training solution

Many AR firms promote their software as a training solution. However, these are often solutions designed for procedure walkthroughs in production environments re-branded for training. If you can’t set an objective or perform knowledge checks and if the firm has no experience in designing content for different levels of mastery, their software probably won’t train effectively. DI has decades of experience in developing training solutions that accelerate a new hire to competency and have experts in –e-learning on hand, fluent in the foundation theories of learning that speak your language.

Design Interactive is founded on the principles of human factors and no other firm can approach our understanding of how the characteristics of your user population, environment and tasks impact performance and safety. Unlike the start-up firms you may encounter, nobody has the breadth of experience and expertise bridging training and operations like DI.
If you are exploring AR or VR, interested in trying a solution on a limited basis or are looking to develop a custom application, we can help.

For more information on DI’s products and services contact Matt Johnston at matthew.johnston@designinteractive.net.

Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions.

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