There is a reason why people gather at tradeshows or events whenever a presenter is demonstrating a wearable. Much like a scene straight out of a science fiction movie, there is a coolness factor to wearables. And manufacturers–at least those committed to the digital transformation–can easily see the potential, especially as they work to make manufacturing environments attractive to the next generation.
Of course, there has been a cloud of issues around wearables–comfort, safety, need for special development skills, etc. Unfortunately, these issues have served as roadblocks or in some instances decimated the investments into costly single application gadgets. However, the reality is that not all wearable devices are created equally.
As a manufacturer of totally hands-free, head-mounted wearable computers, RealWear provides an assisted reality device designed for use in industrial applications. RealWear is not attempting to display holograms or stereoscopic holographic images, especially considering the safety imperative for industrial workers.
“We want to enable workers to keep their cognitive attention in the real world because where they are often in dangerous situations working around machinery, electrical cables or other items operating within the environment creating potential hazards,” says Sanjay Jhawar, president of RealWear. “We give the user something that feels like a seven-inch tablet hovering in space at arm’s length, but only occupies about 20% of the field of view. The result? The user’s brain is largely in the real world with the ability to see unobstructed with both eyes.”
Conversely, mixed reality devices place a display over both eyes superimposing holograms on top of the real world. The brain needs to work to understand how virtual objects are supposed to be located from a depth perspective. “This is difficult because your brain isn’t exactly getting all the same cues that it would get from the real world,” says Jhawar. “There’s eyestrain involved. And there’s quite a cognitive effort to focus on those types of systems, which tends to remove the user’s attention from the real world.”
In its pursuit to fully integrate headsets into existing work environments, RealWear has understandably worked diligently with each of the video collaboration providers to create tools designed to capitalize on what its headsets provide. However, collaboration efforts intensified in March 2020, when Microsoft announced the availability of its customer preview of Teams for the RealWear system, specifically engineered with a hands-free user interface.
With Teams on RealWear headsets, industrial workers can use both hands for complex work procedures while remotely collaborating with subject matter experts wherever they are in the world including starting a remote meeting simply using their voice.
When working in dangerous environments, the use of both hands is critical for safety and effectiveness. These workers increasingly require access to a screen to gather information or collaborate. With RealWear’s noise cancellation technology for voice commands combined with an adjustable micro-display screen running Android, RealWear’s HMT-1 is purpose-built for safe collaboration and knowledge transfer at the edge.EHS Today