21st August 2015
Field service industries rely on new and evolving technologies to remain competitive. Here we look at the development of photo and video capabilities and their ability to revolutionise an industry
New technology is providing the means to improve overall customer service, whilst saving both time and money. Mobile technology in particular has been a key enabler for those field service industries, with many businesses relying on it to aid the completion of general tasks and maintain communications with members of their team both on and off site.
Mobile technology allows users to utilise one device for a variety of tasks, which is one of the many reasons field service professionals have adopted it. Mobile devices provide field service professionals with the ability to take pictures and play and record videos, helping to improve first time fix rates, minimising administration activities and the assisting with the creation of training materials.
The ability to take pictures onsite provides field service professionals with the ability to document pivotal elements of the work they undertake. With NAVmobile users can attach these photos to an account or record, something that is already proving to be valuable to those in the field service industries. The reason for this is that it can have a profound effect on the relationship with your new and existing clients, improving trust and loyalty, through visual documentation that puts in to context what you’re trying to explain and fix.
As customers are naturally weary of what they don’t understand, the ability to take images to demonstrate what is required is a welcome addition to those in field service industries. For example if a photo is taken of something that is broken, field service professionals can illustrate what will happen should it stop working. Furthermore, it helps build credibility, providing evidence of before and after shots that can serve as a testament of your work.
Developers are finding new ways of assisting those in the field by capturing and manipulating images, including through the use of video, which is predicted to grow at a rate of 113% into 2017. This is no surprise, as Derek Korte explains on FieldService.com, “Streaming video is one of the most impactful innovations ever to hit field service. The appeal is simple: With a mobile device and an Internet connection, technicians can troubleshoot problems with company experts from anywhere.” He goes on to explain the reasons video is so popular, in that, “There are many applications for live video in the field. Imagine eliminating technician dispatch for user errors, reducing problems with failed customer self-installs and improving the triage of service calls by ensuring technicians have the right parts on hand — and that the right tech, with the necessary skills and training, responds to the call. This amounts to significant benefits in terms of time, resources and costs.”
Through the use of live streaming video technology, work can be tracked and staff can collaborate, providing virtual support to their colleagues, which can significantly improve first time fix rates and make field service operations much more efficient. Furthermore, these real life video recordings can be used as training and support resource materials and can replace the need to write up reports. New wearable devices are already developing upon this technology, including m-View, which provides cloud-based video streaming and has the ability to enable those with large mobile workforces to share live video with suppliers, colleagues and off-site specialists. This device aims to streamline field service operations, overcome geographical boundaries and reduce travel times and costs.
Is augmented reality the future?
The photo and video technology we already have access to is being developed to form innovative software and hardware that has the ability to vastly improve field service industries and many believe the next natural step is Augmented reality.
Augmented reality provides an enhanced version of reality, which overlays digital information over an image of whatever is being viewed through a device. This is not to be confused with virtual reality, which is an artificial world of images and sounds created by a computer. There are a variety of devices that already look to utilise this technology and revolutionise field service industries, including the DAQRI smart helmet. This smart device displays 4D content through the display, records videos, takes photos, provides 3D mapping, and much more. Furthermore, it provides object recognition and tagging along with real-time data capture and visualisation to assist field service professionals and vastly improve efficiency.
The DAQRI smart helmet is just one of the many devices being developed to aid staff in the field. Other wearables that utilise photo and video technologies are smart glasses such as Epson’s Moverio Smart Glasses and Google glass. The wearable and mobile device market is becoming filled with a plethora of inventions that are likely to disrupt our industries in a bid to create hands-free cameras that use augmented reality to help analyse assets and assist with servicing. The possibilities are endless.