I spy with my little eye …

The mixed-reality applications by GRITEC from Grüsch are revolutionising customer service in the technology sector.

A hummingbird has just landed on Matthias Schwaninger’s hand. That in itself is quite unusual for the region of Prättigau. Suddenly, an astronaut appears next to him and proceeds to float through the fully glazed meeting room of GRITEC, based in Grüsch in the canton of Grisons. On a table at the far end of the room, a small steam engine is in operation. No need to call security or a zoologist: Schwaninger, the Director of GRITEC’S Digital Industry Department, is merely demonstrating the virtually endless possibilities of the HoloLens 2, the next-generation mixed-reality smartglasses by Microsoft. Schwaninger’s employer is one of a few service providers working closely with the Microsoft Corporation in the field of HoloLens applications.

“Public interest in these glasses has been immense,” the engineer comments while pushing up his visor. “It will revolutionise communication in the technology industry quite significantly, bringing manufacturers and clients closer together.” The glasses allow their user to receive precise instructions from a specialist at the other end of the Internet connection, who can guide them through complex operating or maintenance processes. In the virtual space, the wearer sees holograms showing them precisely what to do. And even more: they can arrange and rearrange all information and dialogue windows within their own field of vision to keep an eye on everything needed for the task at hand. Schwaninger explains: “You can have a highly sophisticated, specialist dialogue about a complex machine at any distance.”

 

In this way, GRITEC could support the operation of systems such as the flow sensor plant it has built for Hamilton Medical AG from any location in the world. Even if the specialist for a plant is unavailable, the show can go on: as soon as a colleague puts on the glasses, they can operate or service the system in question. “You can create a checklist for the servicing process, for example. The user can see exactly what they have to do next, and the system will only let them continue once they have completed each step correctly.”

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Operating the HoloLens 2 applications is an effortless process: everything is controlled through eye tracking and voice control. The manufacturer refers to this as “instinctual interaction”. In other words: “You find your bearings almost immediately.” Just look around, then, and you might spot a tame hummingbird. If you want to know more about the tiny birds or a technological system, simply ask for it via voice control.

 

While this may sound like fun and games, there is more to it. The HoloLens 2 does not send you into virtual worlds of imagination. It expands your real-life environment by adding a layer of digital information to it. Tasks that used to involve long journeys and waiting times can now be completed in minutes. Just put your glasses on, pull the visor down, and meet the team in Grüsch.

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