How augmented reality remote assistance technology is helping mechanics speed up repairs

Ford dealers and authorised mechanics are pioneering a new augmented reality remote assistance technology designed to reduce downtime and improve efficiency during repairs. Called See What I See, the technology operates through hands-free headsets which connect the user with a Ford expert for real-time technical and diagnostic assistance. While not rolled out globally yet, See What I See (SWIS) is now in use in seven countries, including Australia. In this article, we’ll look at how SWIS works, and what impact it’s having so far when it comes to speeding up operations.

About Ford’s remote assistance headsets

Introduced during early 2022, SWIS headsets are designed to modernise and simplify operations relating to diagnosing and repairing vehicle issues. Previously, many complex issues required a Ford agent to attend onsite and assist local mechanics. The process could take days, posing an inconvenience for vehicle owners and clogging up the floor at the mechanic’s workshop. 

Augmented reality remote assistance technology via See What I See

The remote assistance headsets solve this problem using the operating system, See What I See. Featuring an audio-visual link and a microphone, the headsets stream live video and audio to connect the user (the mechanic) to Ford’s Technical Assistance Centre (TAC) in Dearborn, Michigan.

SWIS is powered by augmented reality, which enables agents at the TAC to display modified images to the dealer or mechanic through the headset to guide them. All in all, this means mechanics don’t need to wait days for a Ford agent to assist – they can get the help they need instantly.

According to a media release from Ford dated 27 June, 2022, approximately 1200 headsets have already been activated. They are in use in seven countries around the world: the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Australia. At the time the release was published, Ford said it had conducted 350 video calls in the previous 90 days – an impressive kick-start.

So, how’s it going? Susan Padro, Service manager at Mullinax Ford in Florida, says things are off to a good start.

“SWIS definitely helps get our customers back on the road more quickly,” said Padro. “We’ve had some wiring situations that we were able to fix in a few hours versus a few days using See What I See and that’s really valuable.”

augmented reality remote assistance technology Ford imagesAccording to David Green, Ford General Service Equipment Program Specialist, it’s also helping to eliminate human error from the repair process.

“We had one case where a technician reported the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline using SWIS, they quickly found out they were using the wrong tool… Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed just the way it should.”

Use cases for AR remote assistance technology: looking beyond repairs

While streamlining and speeding up diagnostics and repairs is vitally important, Ford is also looking beyond them for new ways to improve operations and service.

Designers are looking at using SWIS headsets to aid:

  • H-VAC concerns, 
  • Gaining approval before replacing a windshield by sending pictures of the defect instantly
  • Electric vehicle repairs (instead of sending a Ford engineer)

So, it sounds promising: augmented reality remote assistance technology clearly has the potential to get us all back on the road faster when we have an issue with our car. The question on everyone’s lips: when does my mechanic get it??

 

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