Smart glasses are just one device in Linde’s remote support solution portfolio, which also includes specially adapted smartphones and tablets. The beauty of the smart glasses however, is the ability to go hands-free. These connected, wearable devices have integrated audio and video capabilities, which means remote experts can connect via a live stream and see what the on-site operator is seeing as they tackle a task. They can then offer support and feedback in real time. But the icing on the cake is when the glasses are used in conjunction with augmented reality (AR). Then, the expert can send digital information real real-time pointers, drawings, site plans and photos which are juxtaposed with the physical world within the wearer’s field of view.
“This is a real opportunity for scalable knowledge transfer,” says Bartsch, “it allows for on-the-job training in the truest sense. For repair or maintenance tasks, for example, the user can perform it under remote supervision the first two times and then do it alone the third.” ‘Scalable’ is the key here. “My colleague Johnathan Low in our Digital Hub in Singapore is already pushing smart remote support for the APAC region,” Bartsch adds, “so looking to the future, we’re in a strong position.”
Far from one size fits all
Linde’s device portfolio offers a number of different types of glasses: from partial visual support with a digital monocle to a full monitor view (equivalent of a 40in screen) in a pair of protective goggles. Indeed, flexible solutions are essential given the diversity of the use cases.
Take Hydrogen (H2) plants for example. These plants contain what are known as ‘EX’ environments: exclusion zones that demand the most stringent of safety precautions. “Even smartphones which contain lithium-ion batteries can pose a risk in these zones – however small,” says Bartsch, “but that isn’t a show-stopper for smart remote support since we have special intrinsically safe and ‘ruggedized’ smartphones, tablets and – in the future – also glasses for these applications”.
For ECOVAR – Linde’s unmanned onsite solutions – smart glasses provide additional sets of eyes for any lone technician carrying out work on these units.
Another use case currently in development at the CDO together with Linde business owners is HydroAR: augmented reality-supported planned maintenance for hydrogen fuelling stations. The small band of Hydrogen fuelling experts could well become stretched with the number of stations being added to the network on the rise: smart support cures that. HydroAR is currently being trialled at some hydrogen fuelling stations but Linde thinks it has the potential to reduce expert travel costs by up to 30%. Not only that but in doing so, it could free up remote experts’ time significantly so that they can do what they do best: innovate for the future.