Augmented reality for maritime satcom technicians
Cobham SATCOM is working with custom software house Kanda and Osterhout Design Group (ODG) smartglasses to build an Augmented Reality (AR) wearable solution for maritime service technicians. With AR already established as an efficiency-enhancing tool for business and industrial applications, the project is a proof of concept that will show the potential for AR to support professionals installing and servicing equipment on ships.
By enabling AR within its product offerings, Cobham is exploring how the digital and physical world can be blended together to create even better user experiences. In addition to the AR smartglasses project, Cobham SATCOM also released a 3D catalogue app this September, which enables its products to be viewed in Augmented Reality on Apple and Android devices.
The AR smartglasses team is working with ODG’s award-winning R-7 smartglasses to develop a solution for installation technicians in the field who are tasked with in-situ ‘conversions’ of sophisticated SAILOR VSAT antennas from Ku to Ka-band, using field conversion kits. The smartglasses provide step-by-step guidance to their wearer during conversion installations, making paper manuals obsolete and greatly speeding up and simplifying the process.
The AR smartglasses solution can reduce costs for vessels and fleets when they are switching to a different satcom service but keeping the same antenna on board. The technician wearing the glasses will receive all the information required in their line of sight; ensuring that strict quality and technical guidelines are followed. By making sure the antennas are installed correctly during the conversion process, the satellite service provider and the end-user can be sure that the antenna will perform more reliably so that the vessel gets the best connection to the satellites and therefore the most reliable broadband and voice services.
“The use of AR in satcom antenna servicing is an exciting prospect, an innovative, new way of doing things for our global partners and a step forward in enhancing our end-user experience,” said Casper Jensen, Senior Vice President, Cobham SATCOM. “AR has the potential to revolutionise a multitude of industrial and business applications and we are confident that together with Creuna, ODG, and Kanda, we will enable satcom technicians to work smarter, faster and more accurately in the field.”
Lene Thirup, Client Director with Cobham SATCOM’s long-term strategic digital partner Creuna, adds: "Cobham SATCOM has truly embraced digitalisation as a means to provide better customer experience by streamlining and gathering their digital services within marketing, sales, customer support, and training. With AR glasses, Cobham SATCOM is taking a strategic and bold step to make the on-site product usage part of the total customer experience. This will result in an even more coherent and seamless experience across all the company’s touchpoints."
ODG smartglasses are changing the way people view the world. Shipping to specialised customers since 2011, ODG has seen rapidly growing demand from a broad base of industries for its fully self-contained, computerised glasses with their photo-realistic, transparent, 3D displays. All ODG models are fully integrated, small, light and sleek. They feature on board GPS/IMU-based navigation, giving users the ability to experience telepresence, tele-maintenance and telerepair everywhere, including ships navigating the oceans.
“ODG’s award-winning smartglasses are already setting the standard in industries across the entire spectrum of business, including those with hazardous conditions,” said Bobby King, VP of Special Projects at ODG. “We are excited to have Cobham SATCOM leveraging the power and possibility of our ruggedized devices to build a remote assistance solution, and for the support it will bring to Cobham customers looking to leverage cutting edge solutions to improve efficiency, safety and speed in their maintenance and service tasks.”
While durable hardware is obviously essential for AR smartglasses to become a success in the maritime world, the software is equally important. Developing the software requires a flexible collaboration between the external partners and Cobham SATCOM’s own engineers. Kristian Andreasen, CEO of software specialists Kanda, adds:
“Working closely together is key to creating any good software experience, but especially with new and innovative technologies such as AR. Being in continuous dialogue with representatives from Cobham SATCOM has ensured an optimal work flow and exchange of information and ideas, and this has been critical for the successful development of the software in the AR smartglasses.”