Evolving Workforces

Redefining Reality With a Glance

facilities management personnel using VR headset

Introducing the “Augmented Worker”

The rapid evolution of the technology landscape has brought various sophisticated solutions for Facilities Management (FM) professionals, including Building Information Modeling (BIM), smart buildings and predictive maintenance tools. These solutions are supported by exciting new “realities” such as Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Innovative FM professionals have embraced an emerging reality technology that bridges both the physical and digital spaces, by superimposing digital content on real objects to become the new interface between humans, buildings and machines. This advancement creates a new type of worker who is better connected, can seamlessly navigate the physical-digital divide and will be more productive. This elevated class of worker will be known as the “Augmented Worker.”

Sound a bit too futuristic?

If so, you may want to visit one of CBRE’s XRS pilot client sites. You will see an engineer wearing a futuristic headset touching invisible buttons, moving objects which only they can see while talking to someone remotely about next steps for troubleshooting. This is one of many actual use cases on how the CBRE team has accelerated futuristic product innovation to be ready today. The present and future of FM professionals support this new method of collaboration.

How Emerging Reality Impacts Facilities Management

Of the three emerging realities, FM professionals have embraced mainly Augmented Reality (AR) and the Mixed Reality (MR) technologies. Here is a quick primer on the three different types of realities:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) – an interactive experience that supplements enhanced computer-generated objects or holograms to be displayed in a real-world environment
  • Mixed Reality (MR) – seamless integration of the hologram and the real-world environment so that the hologram appears to belong in the real world
  • Virtual Reality (VR) – a computer-generated simulation in which the user can interact within an artificial three-dimensional environment

FM professionals use these advanced realities to impact real world FM scenarios delivering cost efficiency, work optimization, increased employee productivity, improved safety and reduction of the carbon footprint.

Blending Mixed Reality with Real World

Unlike VR, MR technology seamlessly integrates holograms into the real world, so it appears as if they are actually present. The applications are limitless, but let’s use a routine mechanical repair scenario as an example.

An engineer is on site to repair a mechanical system. This situation would normally require the engineer to consistently view a computer to pull up the proper steps or diagrams for the repair. Also, a supervisor would then need to visit on site to inspect the repair and ensure quality control.

Leveraging MR technology, the engineer would simply wear the MR smart glasses (see-through & hands-free) and immediately interact with holograms displayed on the mechanical system to repair the system. The engineer could also pull up required work order documentation, make live video calls with the remote expert, add arrows and draw in your space with MR annotations, take high resolution snapshots or video recordings, share documents during the repair and collaborate with a remote expert in real time should they require help.

Once the repair is complete, the supervisor, located anywhere, could view and conduct an inspection of the repair in real time via the engineer’s smart glasses, improving both quality, efficiency and accuracy.

Uncover Hidden Objects for Asset Maintenance

Field technicians are required to maintain, troubleshoot and repair various assets within a single location or building. Due to the complexities of the facilities layout, technicians may find themselves looking at various plans to view reference points for readings and troubleshooting.

Using Mobile AR or AR smart glasses, field technicians would be able to walk the building and bring the plans to life. The Mobile AR could display the pipe layout behind a wall or ceiling, show the part number, indicate temperature readings, and more. These enhancements would efficiently increase work order productivity and increase safety for the field technician.

Efficient Space Planning

Amid these turbulent times, customers are rethinking how they will manage their respective workspaces. Strategic space planning is critical to well-organized, safe, employee-oriented facilities.

Building a VR model would provide a powerful simulation to enable clients to view facilities changes virtually, before they are ever implemented physically. Clients would be able to explore in a virtual world what updated facilities will look like, how equipment placement will affect other assets, and if there are better ways to organize their new layout.

Final Thoughts

Today’s unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic and the extraordinary measures corporations needed to make to ensure safety have accelerated development of emerging realities technology, and demand has increased exponentially.

The ability to embrace this “out of the box” technology has benefitted FM Managers with advanced FM technology solutions. This rapid adoption has led FM teams to tackle tough global work challenges in a safer, easier, more efficient work environment while maintaining adaptability to ever-changing environmental conditions. Clients who leverage these FM reality solutions will experience powerful outcomes, save both time and money and support green sustainability initiatives. The outlook for amazing workforce innovation using FM technology has never been brighter.

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