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    Virtual Reality: the Practical Benefits

    Jan. 16, 2020
    Virtual Reality training links field technicians with office support during system repair sessions, and provides new possibilities for in-house training.
    Compiled by and written in part by Terry McIver. Supporting materials provided by featured organizations.

    Virtual Reality training links field technicians with office support during system repair sessions, and provides new possibilities for in-house training. 

    Here are some offerings:

    Epson announced in September the availability of its Moverio® Assist easy-to-use remote assistance and inspection solution. The solution enables “see-what-I-see” real-time collaboration between remote experts and on-site personnel to accelerate repairs with fewer mistakes, leading to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction and reduced travel costs.

    Moverio Case Study with Encotech
    Encotech, Inc., a leading provider of environmental products, systems and services, recently adopted Moverio Assist into its environmental remediation business for troubleshooting, site walk-throughs, customer support, and service calls. Jason Lalli, vice president at Encotech notes:

    The easy-to-use remote assistance and inspection solution using Moverio smart glasses enables enterprises to address difficult repairs and work tasks out in the field in a cost-effective manner. Leveraging the Moverio Assist app and Epson’s breakthrough Si-OLED display technology featured on the Moverio smart glasses, Moverio Assist allows field technicians to view instructions, photos, PDFs, and videos in high quality while communicating with remote company personnel in real-time. 

    “Previously, phone conversations with field teams would sometimes stretch into hours – this has practically been eliminated by using Moverio Assist. We have tried handheld screens in the past but having two hands available for work is game-changing for us. Jobs and support that might take entire days can be done in hours or minutes, and we can focus on revenue generation while keeping our customers happy,” said Jason Lalli, vice president, Encotech.

    Moverio Assist offers an affordable, hands-free remote assistance and inspection solution for small, medium and large enterprises. Unlike using handheld tablets or smartphones, field technicians wearing the Moverio BT-300 or BT-350 ANSI smart glasses with a built-in camera have their hands free to make repairs while collaborating in real-time with company experts using the Moverio Assist app.

     “Our goal was to develop a modern, hands-free solution that meets both performance and easy-to-use design needs for remote experts and on-site field personnel,” said Leon Laroue, technical product manager, Augmented Reality, Epson America, Inc. “We are already seeing great success with companies like Encotech, and we are excited at the prospect of how different companies in different industries will be able to easily and accurately connect users for real-time collaboration, which can increase productivity and save money.”

    Moverio Assist is available now with monthly subscription plans based on minutes starting from a low of $39.99 a month per pair of Moverio glasses. For environments that require safety glasses, the Moverio BT-350 ANSI model includes indoor and outdoor safety shields that meet ANSI Z87.1 safety certification requirements. Epson will offer a $100 mail-in rebate for every Epson Moverio Assist subscription purchased within 30 days of an Moverio BT-300 or BT-350 ANSI smart glasses purchase between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. Service requirements apply. 

    For additional information, visit www.epson.com/moverioassist or www.moverioassist.com

    VR Training for Multiple Skilled Trades
    Interplay Learning offers what sources describe as the world’s first online learning experience platform offering a catalog of on-demand, video-based and first-hand, VR-enabled training solutions for HVAC and other skilled trades. Its proprietary software — VOLT™ — creates a wider variety of real-world scenarios and situations more economically in just a few weeks, not months or years. Sources say this makes training more scalable, effective and affordable for businesses while providing the opportunity for faster career advancement for students. The platform has won a 2020 Innovation Award from the 2020 AHR Expo.

    Interplay Learning’s Skilled Trades training course catalog is built by industry experts, to give an individual or team the confidence and skills to do the job right. On a phone, computer, or in virtual reality (VR), this is online training for on-the-job skills.

    “We’re excited SkillMill™ won the 2020 AHR Expo Innovation Award,” said Doug Donovan, CEO of Interplay Learning. “No other similar product like it exists in the marketplace. Traditional training methods alone aren’t scalable enough, can be very expensive as well as time-consuming, and they can’t contend with the growing skills gap. Our solution is exponentially more valuable.”

    There are three types of SkillMill learning: for personal use; for a business; and for enterprises. 

    For additional information about Interplay Learning visit www.interplaylearning.com/


    Carrier Collaborates with Interplay Learning 
    Carrier® sources reported recently of its continued investments in training program to provide resources for dealers and to attract new technicians to the industry

    To further its goal of providing cutting-edge training materials for dealers and distributors, Carrier is now working with Interplay Learning to create custom virtual reality (VR) training modules. The modules will feature product-specific content exclusive to Carrier and its network of dealers and distributors. Carrier users will also gain access to Interplay’s growing catalog featuring more than 100 hours of HVAC training. 

    These new VR modules will allow Carrier dealers and distributors to train on complex concepts virtually, using realistic, “hands-on” practice. In addition, the custom Carrier modules enable the use of brand-specific equipment allowing students to “work on” the actual Carrier equipment that they’ll encounter in the field. This virtual space also supports providing dealers and distributors with advance access to new equipment before it reaches consumers, so they can be better prepared to work with new offerings.

    By offering training in new and innovative ways, like VR, it supports Carrier’s efforts to address the skills gap that exists in the HVAC industry. The training is more accessible and modern, to help attract and retain a new and emerging workforce.

    “Carrier is committed to offering product-specific, innovative training resources to dealers and distributors,” said Holly Rhodes, senior manager, channel marketing Residential HVAC, Carrier. 

    “We’re pleased to be working with Interplay as their exciting, new training modules should prove to be a game changer for Carrier technicians, as well as help attract and educate potential technicians about the industry,” Rhodes said.

    Another advantage for Carrier dealers and distributors is that these resources can be acquired and deployed almost anywhere. Carrier believes that the fact that dealers and distributors do not have to go to a training center or specific location to learn should dramatically increase the adoption and utilization of these modules. Course materials are accessible by desktop, laptop or VR-headset and provide an immersive learning experience for engagement and field-like experience.

    “Interplay is proud to align with Carrier, a company with a reputation for industry-leading training,” said Doug Donovan, CEO, Interplay Learning. “Interplay offers an expertise in simulation—we’ve trained more than 70,000 students and professionals with our simulation products. It’s been long-proven in the medical, aviation and military industries, that simulation training better prepares professionals for real-world experiences.”

    “I personally went through the [Interplay Learning/Carrier] program. It’s as close to hands-on as you can possibly get, and I think that’s what is appealing about virtual reality. It’s in their wheelhouse, an ability to learn by doing." — HVAC Contractor Jim Snider

    Jim Snider, general manager of Irish Air, Indianapolis, Ind., has been using the Carrier/Interplay learning modules to train three young apprentices, ages 19 and 20. Himself a degreed educator, Snider appreciates the way people in the HVAC industry often prefer to learn. 

    “Most of the people in our field are kinesthetic learners, what you would call ‘hands-on’ learners. They typically don’t like to learn in a class. They want to see it, touch it,” Snider explained. “I personally went through the program. It’s as close to hands-on as you can possibly get, and I think that’s what is appealing about virtual reality. It’s in their wheelhouse, an ability to learn by doing. 

    “When a person is looking at something in virtual reality, they have a sense of the placement of a component in the system that you’re not going to get from a white board, or two-dimensional slide, or a class. If they’re looking at a part in the VR simulation, then in the field they actually know where the component is in context to the top or sides of the unit, because they’ve ‘been there’, in the virtual reality world. I think the spatial realism is helpful. It hit me when I was doing it. These guys are not going to feel new when they get to one of these units. They’re going to feel like they’ve been there before,” Snider said. SEE PHOTO BELOW.


    XOi Technologies: Photo/Video Records
    XOi’s mobile application changes the way field service companies do business by leveraging photo and video to streamline communication and transform the end customer experience. XOi empowers field service companies to do even more business with greener techs and fewer truck rolls, such as document job sites, access equipment and training materials, and even virtually collaborate with a more experienced technician.  Documenting the job site with photos and videos makes it simple to virtually bring customers and the office to the job site.

    XOi allows experienced and newer techs access to manuals, wiring diagrams, site plans, training materials, and more, on any mobile device.

    Each of your technicians already carries an HD camera in their pocket. With XOi, they can now use it to document their job sites, securely and in an orderly fashion. That means better record keeping, fewer customer disputes, and it could even lower your insurance costs, according to sources. Its capabilities include being able to:

    • Tell techs where to look and what to document with custom Workflows

    • Attach photos, videos, tags, and custom notes to all Jobs

    • Bring customers to the job site virtually by attaching content to their quotes and invoices

    • Add a layer of visibility that builds trust with your customers and allows them to make faster and smarter decisions

    • Save storage space on techs’ phones and keep content centralized across your org with automatic cloud storage.