The story of XReach started in 2017 with a customer’s request. A special team has been developing our remote support solution ever since. Today, the XReach remote support solution works with modern smart glasses, among other tools. Read the whole story!
One of our customers contacted us some five years ago. They were hoping to develop a remote support solution tailored to their needs, because the available standard solutions were unsatisfactory.
The customer in question has deployed XReach widely: the platform is in global production use on three continents with a sizable and rapidly growing user base.
As it became clear during the development process that other operators had similar needs, we reserved the right to further develop the solution for our other customers. XReach’s list of features has kept growing, the latest being support for various smart glasses.
Currently, it is also not a given that specialists can travel to sites for troubleshooting when problems arise. This emphasises the need for remote support and guidance.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will permanently change some things about how we work, and people will come to better understand the possibilities of virtual collaboration,” says Juha Asunmaa, director of the XR business unit.
XReach is “Teams for industry”
The XReach remote support solution is part of Softability’s XR services. Our XR services include virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technologies. Softability’s services are used by educational institutions and industrial customers, for example.
Softability can deliver XReach as standard, ready-to-use software, but it is also highly customisable for customer needs. The solution allows the adding of customer-specific features and it can be integrated with the customer’s other systems.
“Our approach is a little different from the norm. Typically, software houses develop standard products that are not adjusted for individual customers much if at all. With XReach, we are ready to make extensive changes to suit the customer,” says Asunmaa.
Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom are office-oriented applications that many have had plenty of opportunities to use in the past two years. These applications make remote connections possible, at least in the office.
But are they a good fit for industry where the needs and rules are different?
“In practice, we make more versatile ‘Teams-type solutions’ for industry that allow users to work together on technical, hands-on tasks using a collaboration platform. XReach has been developed for industrial use from the start, meaning it accounts for the needs of industrial work in virtual collaboration.”
For example, XReach is a good fit for industrial maintenance, installation work, testing, and commissioning and safety inspections. The platform is also useful for education and training purposes. Remote support is not deterred by the harsh working conditions present in cold, hot, dusty, and humid environments.
Although the XReach remote support solution was designed for industrial use, its potential applications are extensive. The same goes for the rest of Softability’s XR services.
XReach is developed by a skilled and efficient team
There is no question about a system like the XReach remote support solution requiring a diverse set of skills to make. It was important from the start to have the right people in the right roles for development.
The team includes comprehensive expertise: from cloud to web, Unity, and mobile applications. Softability’s mobile and web development specialists include skilled senior architects, while our project managers are experts in processes and quality control. The team’s senior and junior members complement each other well.
The product, the XReach remote support solution, is a platform based on a cloud service with a user interface built on web technologies. The mobile app was developed to be cross-platform, and the solution supports a wide variety of different devices.
According to Asunmaa, it was clear from the start that data would be stored in the cloud when customers used the product.
“There are lighter, application-type remote support solutions on the market. They don’t save data anywhere, though, which can be seen as a loss of information. When this happens, troubleshooting situations tend to repeat themselves.”
XReach makes remote support easy – smart glasses are an extra benefit
In XReach, remote support is performed virtually on two levels: as real-time collaboration and later as recordings.
Here is a quick recap of how the XReach remote support solution works:
When a worker encounters a problem in the field, they open a remote connection to an expert.
The expert sees what the field worker sees – a faulty device, for example.
The expert can help the worker resolve the situation by talking to them and drawing instructions on top of their video feed.
If the field worker needs both of their hands free for repairs, this is where the smart glasses come in. XReach currently supports RealWear HMT-1 smart glasses.
The remote session is recorded automatically in the XReach cloud service, allowing field workers to use it later if the problem reoccurs. This saves them from contacting the expert again.
Asunmaa highlights ease of use as a key benefit of XReach.
“Some XReach users have a highly technical background, but they may not be native IT users. This is why our platform must be easy to use.”
Another benefit of XReach is its versatility. The remote support option allows company employees to be sent to situations that would normally be inadvisable due to their skill level.
XReach is constantly evolving. For example, smart glasses are now part of XReach, introduced in early 2021.
“We have discussed smart glasses along the way, of course, but supporting them was not the first thing we needed to do.”
The recorded remote support sessions enable companies to train their employees to handle typical problems. The recordings are also a valuable source of data for companies: knowing for certain what sorts of problems your employees usually encounter in the field simplifies product and process development.
The XReach remote support solution is taking the world by storm. Asunmaa says the customer feedback received for XReach so far has been positive.
“Softability’s approach is flexible, and we react quickly, listen to our customers, and do what the customer asks of us.”
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