Geo Week News

May 15, 2019

Trimble releases AR app for iOS phones and tablets

Trimble PULSE Remote Expert fig1

Trimble PULSE Remote Expert is the name of a new iOS app that connects field service technicians with remote experts using video, audio and spatial annotations. The tool represents an extension of its AR solutions portfolio for iOS phones and tablets that function as a collaboration tool for field service technicians who can now communicate with remote experts using AR technology. This can be handy when facing complex or unfamiliar situations in the field that require immediate and real-time assistance from a remote expert.

The app intends to improve workflow collaboration and productivity, as well as a reduction of service time by minimizing travel costs. The app can be used to establish an audio and video connection between two users, after which AR annotations can be drawn on screenshots of the shared live connection. These screenshots can be saved to the device’s internal storage. The app also enables video capture, that can be used as a proof of service.

How does it work?

The app works a bit like a Skype chat using a camera: a field service technician with an iPhone or iPad device establishes a live view with a remote expert who can provide information required to finish a certain task. Using the camera of the device, the field worker can point to the physical location. Until so far, there’s nothing remarkable about this app: all this can also be done through Skype or any video chat application.

However, the app requires Apple’s development platform for iOS mobile devices, ARKit, that enables users of the app to make digital annotations such as simple drawings (such as questions marks or arrows that focus on a particular element of a utility), or text messages, that are meant to be shared with a remote assistant, who can assist accordingly in real-time. This type of communication can be a good alternative to loud environments where audio connections are insufficient.


Trimble mixed reality applications

The mobile app is the latest addition to Trimble’s mixed reality applications portfolio, that now comprises of five different apps: Trimble Connect, SketchUp Viewer, Connected Mine, Trimble SiteVision and Trimble PULSE Remote Expert. These solutions are targeted at enterprise customers in architecture, engineering, construction, mining and utilities. AR technology enables users to blend real-world objects with digital content in real-time, helping them to interpret physical and digital data, as well as the spatial relationship between them.

Trimble works with a variety of industry partners on delivering mixed reality apps, such as Google, Microsoft, Magic Leap, DAQRI and now Apple. Each solution uses different technology platforms. Last February, Trimble announced a collaboration with Microsoft, whose HoloLens 2 is integrated into Trimble hardhats. Trimble Connect only works with HoloLens, whereas SketchUp Viewer is available for HoloLens, iOS and Android devices. Trimble SiteVision combines Trimble’s Catalyst softGNSS receiver with Google ARCore technology. Trimble Connected Mine is available for your desktop, mobile device, and Microsoft HoloLens.

Interestingly, Trimble PULSE Remote Expert is an Apple-only app that has only been released as a standalone mobile application for iOS through the Apple store. Given the popularity of Apple’s iPhones, it´s only logical that Trimble would develop an app for iOS devices. To be able to use the app, a wireless Internet connectivity is required, as well as an ARKit capable iPhone or iPad device with iOS version 12 and above.

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