IoT Ecosystem Blog

AR Smartglasses Leader VUZIX & Partners Deliver an HVAC Field Service Solution to Drive New Levels of Customer Satisfaction

by Steven Waltzer | Jan 21, 2016

When it comes to smartglasses, mass market usability concerns loom large. Issues such as privacy, comfort, a constrained user interface, limited apps, and (quite honestly) the nerd-factor, inevitably propel my mind towards commercial, industrial and enterprise use cases as the real target market for the next few years at least. 

On this point, at CES 2016 I had a briefing at the Vuzix booth with their executives and several of their partners. Vuzix is a leading smartglasses maker serving the enterprise market (though they are also straying into the entertainment arena). Their partners at CES include XOEye who offers software and consulting for industrial wearable implementations, Plugfones who provides an industrial Bluetooth headset vendor offering, and Lee Company who is a major commercial and residential HVAC servicer out of Tennessee. 

Lee is implementing one of the largest enterprise smartglasses (and overall wearables) rollouts to date using XOEye software at their warehouse/workshop.  A Vuzix  smartglasses module is attached to an ANSI-certified safety glasses and paired with Plugfones (OSHA certified Bluetooth safety earbuds).  The gear is not something technicians keep on all the time, but rather are attached by croakies (neck strap) for use when needed. 
Vuzix and Plugfones

The smartglasses are primarily used to take photos of the worksite when arriving and leaving, to video conference with more senior technicians when they have a question (“see what I see”), to take training videos from first person point of view, and to show customers what problems the technician may be seeing.

Lee Company first piloted 15 units for 6 months among several “champion” users and is now rolling out 500 Vuzix M100 smartglasses units to their commercial service group.

You might expect benefits of this kind of implementation to be seen through internal efficiencies, but the kicker here is the dramatic improvement in customer support and satisfaction when clients can easily view a job’s status via the most cutting edge technology available.  Thus, the solution is also driving top line revenue growth.  Stated key advantages brought about through the implementation include increased accountability for technicians, attracting new and younger talent drawn in by the technology, higher employee retention, allowing senior technicians to work more and travel less (when they provide support via augmented reality rather than manual labor), and unprecedented transparency with their end customers.

I expect to see more and more of these types of enterprise implementations as the smartglasses market matures.  For companies interested in examining the use of wearable tech in their operations, I would caution that the implementation strategy is of paramount importance in order to add value and drive employee acceptance/uptake.  Working with a consultancy such as XOEye on a sound implementation plan involving ‘champion’ pilot users, a sound feedback process, and rigorous user acceptance/usability testing is absolutely worthwhile.

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