When something breaks in a rented home, the landlord typically sends a professional to make repairs. But during the coronavirus lockdown, this has been thrown into disarray, a problem that augmented reality (AR) technology from XMReality is taking on.
Made available to UK housing associations through a partnership with DtL Creative, XMReality Remote Guidance technology is normally used across a wide range of industries, including food manufacturing, oil and gas, packaging and healthcare. But its potential benefits for facility management have become particularly pronounced during the coronavirus lockdowns.
Described by XMReality as an “AR-enabled knowledge sharing tool”, the technology allows a person with expertise of a particular task to guide someone with no knowledge through a process, such as a repair. It does this using what the company describes as a “hands-overlay technology”, where the guider can overlay their hands on the guidee’s phone using AR, allowing them to point to specific areas of the field of view and show them what they need to do.
DtL Creative saw the potential of the AR technology for repairs in housing associations prior to the onset of the coronavirus, but once lockdowns were in place, with many people isolating, its potential became amplified.
“When the coronavirus hit a few weeks ago, we decided to help housing associations as much as we could. We’re working with several tech companies to offer free support to help them manage,” says Dave Loudon, founder of DtL Creative.
“The remote guidance from XMReality is amazing and is just one of many innovations we’re offering to housing associations to help during this difficult time.”
Using AR to help housing association tenants make repairs during coronavirus lockdown
One of the housing associations currently making use of the technology is Kingdom Housing Association in Scotland, which adopted the technology prior to the lockdown being ordered.
“This technology has the potential to be a game-changer. I knew when I first saw it that it would prove very useful. I just hadn’t realised how useful until we went into lockdown and operatives were unable to attend routine repairs because of isolation,” says Gary Haldane, interim digital director at Kingdom Housing Association.
So far, it has been used for tasks such as replacing washing machines and repairing broken doors, with the organisation so far reporting positive feedback from tenants.
“Our tenants have been amazed at how simple it is to use and we’ve already had really positive feedback from tenants who have used the service,” says Haldane.
“Our main priority during the coronavirus pandemic remains the health and wellbeing of our tenants and staff. Using augmented reality, we’re not only able to deliver the level of service our customers expect in a highly efficient manner, but we’re also able to do our best to minimise the transmission of the virus too.”
“Super stoked”: Bringing XMReality to housing associations
Although the partnership with DtL Creative saw XMReality Remote Guidance technology used by housing associations for the first time, Jörgen Remmelg, CEO of XMReality, says there were “very few” challenges to applying it to this industry.
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“We are super stoked to see our technology being used for this novel application. The historical and typical application has been industrial field service,” he says, adding that its design makes it well suited to be used by tenants who may have little expertise with either technology or making repairs.
“We decided early on to make our product easy to use and with maximum compatibility with commercially available hardware. This is a perfect fit with helping tenants remotely,” says Remmelg.
“In these strange and chaotic times we need to be creative and innovative to bring some kind of normality to life, well done by DtL Creative to identify this opportunity and to make it materialise!”