ExxonMobil Goes all in on Assisted Reality
Fun fact. In addition to being a lifesaver for millions of desk workers, thanks to RealWear, Zoom is now being used by deskless frontline workers in hazardous or risky environments – by wearing RealWear’s assisted reality device.
The device is produced by Vancouver-based company RealWear. In industrial circles, RealWear is considered the “gold standard” for industrial wearables in manufacturing, automotive and oil and gas industry. It’s already used at scale by major brands like Mars Petcare, Colgate-Palmolive, Honeywell and many more.
The RealWear device’s heads-up display (HUD) has a number of great advantages due to its safety-conscious, user-oriented hardware and software design. In short, it safely provides frontline worker the right information at the right time—information in small digital snacks– via a micro-display that views like a 7” tablet, without obstructing the worker’s view. It allows the frontline worker to look forward, hands free for the tools and for balance, and get the job done fast. Of course, this is quite appealing to a safety-minded user who might be questioned by their safety officer for using an immersive experience solution like VR or AR on the frontline.
This is where RealWear’s “assisted reality” approach hits the bullseye.
RealWear and Zoom have made an exciting announcement that they work together to allow you to make Zoom calls for frontline workers. RealWear worked closely with Zoom for a fully integrated experience with its Android wearable devices. This well-designed technology has captured the attention of more and more frontline workers, and their operations leaders. The tech—which consists of hardware, software and cloud components– can now be seen more and more regularly, worn proudly by miners, nuclear power plant engineers, manufacturing plant operators, service technicians, roughnecks, and maybe one day soon, astronauts on the space station!
Zoom on RealWear enables immediate collaboration with a remote expert; for example, on an important installation or problem for a piece of heavy equipment or machine. Subject matter experts (SMEs) can immediately support and help solve an issue that might be otherwise costing a business literally millions of dollars in unplanned machine downtime. Especially in the the post-vaccine world, RealWear has definitely caught the attention of Global 1000 companies.
Zoom Calls on the Frontline
The primary use case for this type of Zoom call is called remote collaboration or Remote Expert Guidance (REG). By conducting REG via a Zoom call, Zoom can be safely used in the field for troubleshooting, inspections and safety and quality compliance audits.
The reason this type of Zoom call is so effective and unique is because the ruggedized RealWear assisted reality device has a front-facing camera that allows a frontline worker to navigate an entire call or ‘remote session’ with only their voice; the device can stream the exact point of view (POV) via video that the frontline worker sees directly to an SME’s laptop or mobile device.
By giving the remote expert this kind of immediate visibility to see, hear and collaborate (including annotating on the screen), it takes minutes or hours rather than days or months to resolve a major problem, while also avoiding costly or slow travel to a plant or site. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except that by making a single Zoom the technology immediately pays for itself on its first use. This makes the investment in the technology a no-brainer for thousands of companies who have limited travel budgets.
The most exciting example of Zoom on RealWear is now with ExxonMobil
There are many companies taking advantage of Zoom with RealWear, but much is happening behind the scenes in highly secure or protected environments such as in manufacturing or oil and gas facilities. The collaboration between Zoom, RealWear and ExxonMobil is perhaps the most recent and exciting example of frontline workers making Zoom calls to a remote expert. In fact, the company has ‘gone global’ with the technology, making Zoom on RealWear the company standard.
In ExxonMobil’s case, they not only required a safety-critical tech, but they needed a technology that was intrinsically safe; that is, it must be certified for use in environments where explosive gases are present in the atmosphere. Luckily, RealWear also offers the HMT-1Z1, which is an ATEX Zone 1 C1/D1 device.
Here’s what it looks like for the Zoom-enabled RealWear device to be worn on a worker.
Here’s the Backstory about ExxonMobil and RealWear Partnership
According to the press release, in 2017, ExxonMobil had already begun testing and implementing RealWear’s rugged, hands-free, completely voice-controlled intrinsically safe HMT-1Z1s for various use cases, specifically trying out the big idea of ‘hands-free remote expert guidance’ running video conferencing apps. The idea was that technicians might be able to safely and efficiently connect via meeting collaboration software with engineers, when they needed support, and even to service partners worldwide.
“RealWear’s HMT-1Z1 was actually the world’s first commercially available intrinsically safe head-mounted wearable,” said Rama Oruganti, RealWear’s Chief Product Officer. “For the first time frontline workers could enter hazardous ATEX Zone 1 zones where explosive gases were present. That was the real game changer for the oil and gas sector. The second gamechanger, though, was when major providers of meeting collaboration software voice-optimized their apps to run hands free on RealWear.”
Fast Forward Three Years to the Pandemic
Then, all at once, COVID-19 paralyzed business manufacturing and operations worldwide.
That’s when Zoom’s growth skyrocketed with a surge in daily users. (Note – Today Zoom says it has 497,000 customers (> 10 employees). As the global pandemic hits, Zoom usage increases to from 10 million to a whopping 300 million daily meeting participants in 243 countries!).
Then, in 2021 Zoom announced that it “welcomed ExxonMobil to the Zoom family.” Zoom was set to become ExxonMobil’s “unified communications platform.” According to Zoom the idea was “to apply next-generation technologies to help safely and responsibly meet the world’s growing needs for energy and chemical products. ExxonMobil wanted a solution that would enable them to collaborate reliably and securely with their teams, customers, and partners around the world. ExxonMobil employees are now using Zoom video communications across their global business.”
All at once, everything came together like magic.
ExxonMobil’s early tests had already paid off, so when the pandemic hit and Zoom was already embedded in ExxonMobil’s culture, it needed to close the last inch of collaboration with its frontline workers. That’s when RealWear came in.
Now ExxonMobil is announcing that it had teamed up with Zoom to help their joint customer ExxonMobil drive remote expert guidance across its global workforce.
RealWear assisted reality devices are the first in the category to integrate the Zoom Meetings client application.
ExxonMobil’s field workers will now use RealWear’s head-mounted devices integrated with Zoom for a complete hands-free experience. What made this collaboration so successful was alignment on one common goal, empower the frontline, engage them with remote connectivity while keeping them safe. Clearly, this is only the beginning for ExxonMobil’s remote connectivity plans.
“There is no substitute for in-person collaboration to support business critical activities but assisted reality technology helps us collaborate with our teams at the workplace in situations when meeting in person isn’t possible or the best answer,” said Raymond Jones, Vice President of ExxonMobil’s Upstream Integrated Solutions Company. “These technologies will help us innovate and collaborate and transform the way we work on the front line.”
Benefits of Remote Expert Guidance & Digital Workflow
RealWear and Zoom brought assisted reality digital workflow solutions that provide visual instructions, checklists, data entry, and visual documentation of completed steps, improving productivity and reducing operational errors. Optimized for the best video collaboration experience for industrial workers, it allows seamless connections in real-time, from anywhere, using optimized video collaboration applications.
“Using Zoom on RealWear is just the beginning of our utilization plan for assisted reality. Future use cases include self-guided work instructions and real-time IoT data visualization to reduce errors and improve quality,” said Andrew Chrostowski, RealWear’s Chairman and CEO.
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