XMReality Remote Guidance is now available on HoloLens 2
Now, with our most recent update, we have adapted our user experience for the Microsoft HoloLens 2 smart glasses, supporting XMReality on HoloLens2, HoloLens2 Industrial Edition and the hardhat-integrated version of HoloLens 2.
While there was once a time when smart glasses were a niche product with a limited use, that time has long since passed. Smart glasses are becoming an increasingly important tool for industries to perform their work, and there are more glasses than ever to choose from. Meaning that it’s more important than ever for smart glasses users to choose the right software solutions to support their mix of devices.
What sets HoloLens 2 apart from many of its competitors is that they are truly immersive mixed reality glasses, with two screens, one in front of each eye, giving stereo scoping vision and the sense of depth. The HoloLens 2 leverages its depth-perception to recognize the floor, roofs, objects, and everything in your surroundings, while simpler glasses typically have only one display or lack awareness of its surroundings. HoloLens 2 also comes with hand tracking making it very intuitive to navigate user interfaces.
This guide gives an overview of how XMReality and HoloLens 2 work together as the perfect pairing of robust hardware and flexible software, and why we see HoloLens as an important part of the future of remote support.
A brief history of HoloLens 2
In 2014, Microsoft acquired Nokia’s Devices and Services division. As part of this acquisition, Microsoft gained a number of highly talented researchers and patents. In January 2015, the company announced the original HoloLens to the world at their key Windows 10 event.
HoloLens 2 was to be the first head-mounted display running the Windows Mixed Reality platform on Windows 10, and at the time it was designed with a broad enough scope to sit in the consumer market.
In 2019, Microsoft announced the HoloLens 2 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. HoloLens 2 has been laser-focused for enterprise applications, with features such as a completely hands-free interface with fully articulated hand tracking, and increased comfort to wear over long periods of time. In 2021, an industrial edition for regulated environments and a hardhat-integrated version was made available
The rise of smart glasses
When we started XMReality, smart glasses were considered a niche product. Since then, there has been a huge shift in how smart glasses are used. Today, they are categorized more as generic product in the manufacturing and packaging industries.
One of the trends that we have identified is a shift away from a one-to-one relationship between smart glasses hardware and accompanying software, where smart glasses were purchased for one purpose and delivered with one application. Viewing smart glasses more as a generic device supporting many use cases, and with that many applications, is driving an uptake in smart glasses use, and has led to more flexible products and an increasing number of use cases for them.
Our response has been to ensure that XMReality software supports a wide range of smart glasses, from simpler glasses suitable for introducing hands free operations in industrial settings, to more capable glasses such as HoloLens 2. In short, we made XMReality compatible with HoloLens 2 smart glasses because they bring out the best in each other.
Why XMReality and HoloLens 2 makes a perfect match
In remote guidance, it pays to reduce barriers wherever you can to create the easiest experience possible for users, and a creating a frictionless user experience has become our mantra. XMReality runs on the HoloLens 2 seamlessly and intuitively, eliminating obstacles both leading up to calls and while they’re active.
Whereas some other forms of remote assistance require receivers to have an account on the same platform as the caller, the HoloLens 2 doesn’t limit you to HoloLens-to-HoloLens calls; you can tie anyone into the conversation, even users outside your own organisation. You can simply send a link via text messages (SMS) from your headset to anyone with a connected device. There’s no need for recipients to download any software or sign up to any service.
Full hands-free usage
Hands-free usage is one effective enabler of remote guidance, both in safety and efficiency aspects. In situations where you may have once needed to look up a solution in a manual, you can now bring people into a call with you without using your hands, to help you solve the problem faster.
While all smart glasses aim to let users retain usage of their hands, not all of them take this feature as far as it can go. With HoloLens 2, all interactions with the glasses happen through yours hands in the space in front of you. The smart glasses feature fully articulated hand tracking with the ability to touch, grasp and move objects naturally.
Personalized experience for multiple users
It is not uncommon for all of the workers on a factory floor to share one or two pairs of smart glasses. In many of these cases, the glasses do not support personal profiles, meaning all of those users are logged in using the same username. In cases like this, it’s not clear for receivers who they are talking to. XMReality has solved this by making it extremely easy to switch user accounts on smart glasses, but with HoloLens2 personal profile support comes natively. With personal accounts, tens of users can log into the same HoloLens glasses with a simple biometric eye scan and go on to have a completely personal experience – all with the same pair of smart glasses.
True two-way support
In support and troubleshooting, there is a clear need for human-to-human interaction, for receiving instructions or guidance from someone located remotely, such as an expert located centrally, or another field service agent who needs to share knowledge with you. Similarly with inspections and audits, as a wearer of smart glasses you typically want to share what you see to remote participants and get their feedback and instructions.
But on top of support, inspections and audits, remote guidance becomes a two-way street – not only can you receive instructions, but you can also give instructions. You can, for example, stand in front of a machine and demonstrate a complex solution in real-time to people placed remotely for training purposes.
Looking to the future
Smart glasses are now being used for an increasing number of purposes in manufacturing, production, packaging, and other industries. New uses range from onboarding new personnel, where you guide new people through tasks they have never done before, to receiving real-time interactive factory tours, to working through complex assembling of machinery.
The number of smart glasses available on the market keeps increasing, and that trend looks set to continue. XMReality has embraced smart glasses since the company was originally founded, and supporting HoloLens 2 is a natural next step, giving our customers even more freedom of choice when it comes to what devices to use.