Improving self-service repairs with augmented reality.
We now have a whitepaper version including this blog
We have recently been experimenting with augmented reality and how this technology could align with our sector focus at Komodo.
We chose to embark on a design sprint to generate a proof of concept AR app with real world impact. From our experience within the social housing sector we have gained extensive insight into areas which have potential for improvement and where AR could provide value.
The project began with an idea generation session, we spent some time considering how we can improve various areas of social housing, taking into account use cases for both tenants and social housing providers themselves. We wanted to create a proof of concept that would benefit multiple stakeholders and so identified a key area for improvement as social housing repairs. Many current social housing companies use 3rd party tools for logging and requesting repairs, we saw this as an opportunity to experiment with improving this service using an augmented reality application.
Often engineers will attend call outs by tenants who have reported issues with appliances. Some of these issues are trivial and could potentially be fixed by the tenants themselves if they had the instructions and knowhow. The act of reporting a repair can be a laborious task in itself, with the user having to fill out numerous fields just to identify the appliance they have an issue with, this again is something that could potentially be improved with new technologies being introduced.
Our solution was an AR app that can be accessed by tenants to help identify the appliance and issue in question. The application allows the user to scan an identifying code that will be placed on every major appliance within the tenants household, from this scan the application will be able to pull up a extensive list of information regarding the product including common issues and troubleshooting tips. The user can then select the issues they are experiencing and, if the issue is something they are capable of fixing, the app will walk them through how to fix it. The app displays an easy to follow step-by-step guide to help the user repair the appliance without the need for a professional, however we still provide them with the ability to request a repair if they are uncomfortable with following the provided instructions. The AR solution tracks the scanned appliance and will highlight the components that need adjusting with with 2D and 3D UI elements to further aid the user.
After examining the current flow in detail, we developed a user flow outlining how a user would walk through the proposed solution, focussing on our created user personas and making sure the flow reflected the user requirements. This was used to quickly storyboard ideas for the solution and how the functionality would be reflected within the app UI. We then translated this into polished screens that cater for the main flow through the application and tested them within an InVision prototype, the final prototype can be found below.
Torch app provided a platform for us to quickly iterate and test our UI. Once we had a number of initial UI designs, we were able to view these elements within a 3D space to assess key issues such as the legibility of text. Through this iterative process we were able to identify flaws within with our initial UI and make changes accordingly. After a number of iterations we were confident that the final UI was strong enough to take forward into a more polished proof of concept.
To visualise our final concept, we shot a video which followed the flow we had mapped out and took this into After Effects to begin to add the UI elements we had created. We used 3D tracking to to place the exported UI elements into the video and pin them in place. This provided us with a glimpse as to how the 2D and 3D elements will work from different perspectives. We demonstrated how the app could walk the user through a reset of their boiler, as this is something that can solve a number of problems and is fairly simple to do. After adding the animated 3D elements and finessing some of the microinteractions within the UI, we had a final proof of concept.
Going forward, we plan to further explore how emerging technology can be used to provide solutions within the social housing, insurance and law enforcement sectors. Keep an eye out for future developments.