The APTIM Xchange | Virtual Audits Using The Microsoft Hololens 2
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 is a Mixed Reality Headset that can be used in the field to facilitate audits, inspections, management, and investigations. It can be used to reduce the number of field staff, reduce COVID-19 exposures, save on travel expenses, and allow for effective client interface during field activities. It allows for a remote team to be “there, on-site” with the field user.
How can you achieve that remotely? The HoloLens 2 is a self-contained computer headset worn by a field user. It has four environment sensing cameras that work with a depth sensing camera and speakers just above the ear of the wearer. The HoloLens 2 works with Microsoft Teams to allow seamless, real time video, audio, and data communication between the field user and a remote team. But it is way cooler than that because it works with holograms. So, it is Iron Man meets environmental compliance.
OK, sounds interesting, but how does it fit in with my needs? What the field user sees can also be seen by the remote team, and the remote team can then relay live audio instructions to the field user. The field user can see the remote team live in a hologram and can open files and drawings as holograms. In addition, the field user can receive visual instructions from the remote team via holograms and can take pictures or videos at the request of the remote team.
This is starting to sound useful, and yes, pretty cool, but can you give me some examples of how I can use this? So, a team of four auditors is scheduled to be out at a plant, but travel restrictions dictate that three of the four auditors may not travel to the plant. Or, several client representatives need to assess field conditions with a field user but are subject to corporate travel restrictions. Or, a myriad of other instances when people may not be able to be out in the field simultaneously.
Those remote teams can still be there “virtually”, in a hologram. The field user wears the HoloLens 2 and the remote team can be “there” to share knowledge, issue instructions, ask questions, holographically point out important issues visually, open files, and point out features holographically. Yes, holograms. Clear holograms that allow the field user to open visual references live, as holograms. Nothing to carry. Free hands.
This sounds like something I can use, but have you used the HoloLens 2 out in the field at a real job? Yes, and it works really well. We have used the HoloLens 2 to conduct field audits for a power producer in the Northeast. The remote auditing team guided the field auditor, issued instructions, and holographically pointed out features to be looked at in greater detail. We have also used the HoloLens 2 to conduct waste audits remotely with the participation of the client. The client and the project manager guided the field user remotely, and most importantly, issued instructions on which items must be documented with photographs. The HoloLens 2 can take the photographs with voice instructions. Did I mention that this is pretty cool? Well, it is.
Sounds too good to be true. What are the pros and cons of the HoloLens 2? From our personal user experience from client audits performed using the HoloLens 2, here are some pros and cons of virtual auditing:
- Light weight tool that easily connects via MS Teams
- Live video and audio stream
- Remote audit team or client sees through the field auditor’s eyes live
- Remote audit team verbally issues instructions live with the field auditor
- Tools allow for virtual free-hand drawing by the remote audit team in the field auditor’s field of vision to highlight items of interest
- Connectivity: must have WiFi signal or MiFi hotspot
- Spatial awareness: user must clear the field of vision and pull holograms to the periphery
- Learning curve: familiarization with the device takes time
APTIM has trained technical professionals across the country on how to use the HoloLens 2. We have several HoloLens devices at our disposal, and we are poised and ready to provide our clients with remote auditing services to ensure operational continuity today and into the future.
Lou Vale, Project Manager
APTIM. In Pursuit of Better.