At Agritechnica, Case IH announced its collaboration with Microsoft on an advanced project leveraging mixed reality in an Industry 4.0 perspective, to bring its best maintenance experts instantly to any customer or dealer workshop across Europe, Middle East and Africa. The partnership’s goal is to offer the best customer service by reducing downtime and improving efficiency. Case IH is testing Microsoft HoloLens in Austria to streamline maintenance operations, and will use them for training in its own facilities as well. Thanks to real time holographic interactions, it is possible to empower customers, enable hands-free operation and smarter conversations, deliver accurate, qualified diagnostics and improve productivity.
Microsoft HoloLens goes beyond ‘Augmented Reality’ into ‘Mixed Reality’, displaying holograms in the user’s field of vision with a mapping of the environment, allowing the user to place holograms in the real world, and move them as desired or needed while respecting the physics of the environment around the headset.
For Case IH, the HoloLens has a clear advantage in two major fields: remote assistance and training.
Firstly, maintenance teams can access Case IH experts hands-free in the pilot, as they work on the machine, allowing efficient and fast intervention, with supporting information sent in seconds. The expert can consult all of the technical datasheets and applicable methods, and show them to the technician in his ‘glasses’. They can also talk direct in real-time via Skype. The main goals are to save time, minimize the machine’s downtime and make the service more efficient, by improving productivity and business continuity.
Secondly, training becomes much easier. An instructor can be remotely connected to multiple people and give a live class without having to travel – a clear advantage in terms of time saving and efficiency.
“With the HoloLens project, Case IH and Microsoft are working closely to develop the technologies of the future and to set up a new model for remote maintenance. The testing phase, which is expected to last one year, is already delivering remarkable outcomes in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. We expect to go on in our Digital Transformation path, by developing further application scenarios of this and other new technologies”, claims Peter Friis, commercial marketing director EMEA Case IH.
The HoloLens headset contains a full computer, fitted with adapted Windows 10. Three processors are used: the first is the main CPU (Central Processing Unit), the second is a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), and the third, called an HPU (Holographic Processing Unit), manages the spatial positioning of holograms, recognising the world around the HoloLens headset. Infrared cameras support the device in further understanding the environment and in low-light conditions, while spatial sound speakers deliver a 360° sound experience contextual to the real-world positioning of the holograms. Voice command is also available through Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. It weighs around 579 grams and offers a field of vision of around 30° by 17.5°.