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How Are AR, VR, Spatial Computing, and 3D Changing Field Service Training?

Advanced technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, spatial computing, and 3D instruction are rapidly changing field service training.

Two men in field service training use interactive instructions to install hvac equipment. One man in the background holds a tablet in his right hand.

For field service professionals and trainees, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become, well, a reality. AR, VR, spatial computing, and 3D technologies are making increasingly wide-ranging transformational changes in how field service teams train and do their jobs. Here’s a review of the exciting new applications of AR, VR, spatial computing, and 3D technologies in field service training that are taking hold now.

A Quick AR, VR, Spatial Computing Primer and the Role of 3D Instruction

To start, let’s review the key features of today’s AR and VR technologies.

AR is a technology that displays digital text, data, images, and animations between a user and the physical world. Users view the superimposed images on a smartphone or tablet screen, often by wearing smart glasses or headsets (such as Google Glass), or through a head-up display. 

By inserting digital imagery into a live view of the world, AR provides real-time information users can employ in recognizing people or objects, following processes, or evaluating their surroundings. Advanced AR technologies are becoming increasingly interactive by enabling the manipulation of superimposed digital images, collaboration with other users, object and facial recognition, and eye and body movement sensing.

VR is AR’s fully immersive cousin. It is a technology that delivers moving images and sounds to a user wearing a headset equipped with gyroscopic sensors that respond to the user’s head movements. Users of VR leave the real world and enter a virtual one they can move through and manipulate, often by using handheld controllers or smart devices.

Leading VR technologies connect users in a virtual space where they can meet, collaborate, and problem-solve. They may also incorporate high-definition imagery and advanced eye and body movement tracking capabilities that deepen the immersive experience.

Spatial computing blends virtual and the physical world. It combines elements of virtual reality and augmented reality to create immersive, interactive experiences. Users can often interact with and manipulate three-dimensional virtual spaces and objects, often integrating these with the real world. Spatial computing enables users to perceive and engage with digital information in a way that mirrors real-world interactions. It can provide a sense of spatial awareness for the user that isn’t fully replicated with AR or VR alone.

Related: AR, VR, or XR: Best Mixed Reality Use Cases for Digital Work Instructions 

It’s important to note that while these newer technologies are exciting, they can also be impractical out in the field. Advanced 3D instructions offer a compelling alternative—or addition to—AR, VR, and spatial computers by providing a seamless, accessible transition to mobile instructions in the field. Stakeholders can access content on their own devices with practically no set-up time compared to headsets. While spatial computers and other headsets are best in organized training environments, many 3D technologies like BILT Intelligent Instructions can be securely accessed on almost any smartphone or tablet. 3D technologies are often more mobile-friendly for on-the-go technicians compared to AR, VR, or spatial computers. This accessibility ensures that a broader audience can benefit from interactive and immersive guidance without the need for special equipment.

Related: How 3D Instruction Helps with Field Service Labor Shortages

work instruction software technician with clearfield work instructions

AR, VR, Spatial Computing and 3D Training Applications for Field Service Professionals

AR, VR, spatial computers, and 3D instruction hold immense promise as tools for training workers, especially field service professionals. Educators and researchers have long understood that hands-on, interactive learning is far more effective at conveying concepts and helping learners master skills than training lectures or paper instructions. With their emerging suite of interactive and immersive features, these advanced technologies unlock the possibility of interactive, technical instruction at a scale never before achieved by enterprises and institutions.

The field service training applications are virtually endless. They make it possible for businesses to teach product knowledge and technical skills through features like:

  • Immersive learning environments: Trainees learn in a virtual classroom or at a virtual job site, practicing the procedures and techniques of field service as often as they need before putting them into action in the real world.
  • Interactive training modules: Trainees can be tested through sequential challenges and problems, providing a learning progression to follow (and repeat if necessary) until they have mastered the essential knowledge and skills.
  • Real-time simulations: Learners navigate common field service tasks and scenarios, giving them opportunities to hone their capabilities in a lifelike virtual or augmented setting.
  • Remote training capabilities: Instructors are able to meet with trainees in virtual training spaces, which both reduces training costs and adds flexibility to training schedules.
  • Increased equipment familiarization: Trainees can be given instant access to a constantly updated, virtual library all of an enterprise’s products and tools.
  • Adaptive learning paths: A trainee’s progress can be tracked in detail, with areas that need reinforcement easily identified, and instructors can supplement instruction with additional modules.
  • Reduced downtime for equipment and systems: Field service professionals can have the most current, technically complete, interactive information at their fingertips, showing them how to make a repair or replace a faulty part.
  • Continuous learning: For experienced field service personnel, advanced instruction technology can provide ready access to refresher modules and product updates.

These are just some of the exciting capabilities that mixed reality and 3D technology can bring to the field service training environment. Today’s advanced instruction technology stands ready to revolutionize how businesses train their workers for field service tasks.

Related: How 3D Instruction Apps for Field Service Transform Operations

Creating Seamless Field Service Training Experiences with 3D Instruction

If there is only one essential, multi-sensory app among the features enhanced field service training can offer, it’s 3D instruction technology. In a nutshell, 3D instruction transforms paper training manuals into interactive, three-dimensional guides to an enterprise’s products, systems, and services.

Trainees and active field service professionals who have access to 3D instruction materials on their smartphones or tablets can rotate, zoom, and examine products and parts, and view step-by-step instructions for performing any task they might confront. With the right platform, a 3D instruction manual can be available online or offline and can be quickly and efficiently updated with the latest products and techniques.

Interactive 3D instruction is a modern approach to guiding field service technicians through complex tasks, such as assembling components, installing equipment, or performing maintenance activities. This type of instruction leverages detailed, step-by-step 3D animations and interactive elements to make the process more intuitive and user-friendly. Here’s how it typically works:

  • 3D visualization: Users can see a 3D model of the item they are working on. This model can be rotated, zoomed in and out, and viewed from different angles to get a better understanding of each part and how it fits together.
  • Step-by-step guidance: The instructions are broken down into clear, manageable steps. Each step is accompanied by a 3D animation that shows exactly what needs to be done.
  • Interactive controls: Users can interact with the 3D model, often being able to click on parts to get more information or see how they fit into the overall assembly.
  • Voice and text instructions: In addition to visual guidance, there may be voice instructions and text descriptions to provide additional clarity.
  • Error prevention: Some 3D instruction apps can highlight common mistakes and offer tips to avoid them, making the assembly process smoother and reducing the likelihood of errors.
  • User Feedback: Some 3D instruction platforms allow users to provide feedback on the instructions, which can be used to improve future versions.

How guided instructions are used in field service training:

  • Product assembly: Users can follow the 3D instructions to assemble products like heavy equipment, furniture, or electrical components. The app ensures that each part is correctly placed and secured, reducing the chances of mistakes.
  • Installation: For appliances or other equipment, interactive 3D instructions can guide users through the installation process, ensuring that everything is set up correctly and safely.
  • Maintenance and repair: Guided interactive instructions can also be used for maintenance tasks, showing users how to disassemble, clean, and reassemble parts, or how to perform repairs.
  • Training purposes: 3D interactive instructions can be used in educational settings to teach students about mechanical processes, engineering concepts, or other technical skills.

Thanks to immersive and interactive instruction platforms, trainees and experienced field service professionals alike will have instant access to not just every bit of information they need, but also to the three-dimensional visual, and even tactile, experience of doing their jobs efficiently and correctly event out in the field. Not only that, their employers will have given them that training at a fraction of the cost—and with far greater flexibility—than has ever before been possible.

BILT is a leading developer of 3D instruction technology and spatial computing for field service training and enablement. Contact us today to learn how we are taking field service training to the next level.

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