The Future of Field Service Technology: Key Trends from CES 2016

Field Service Trends from CES 2016

The CES Tradeshow impacts the future of field service as new consumer technology creates applications for service.

The annual CES event in Las Vegas, which concluded last week, brought to light new gadgets and trends sure to stay in the spotlight for the rest of the year. The internationally renowned event showcases the hottest new electronics and technology, foretelling the tech trends that will impact our personal and professional lives during the year ahead.

Compared to past years’ attention to innovation, this year’s show focused more on product development. So while you may have heard of these gadgets before, the products are now beyond the thought stage and finally entering the consumer market. Based on the 3,000 products at the event, we found that this year’s tech trends are focusing on smart cars, wearables, drones, virtual reality and the Internet of Things.

As the consumer market takes in these announcements, those of us in field service have the opportunity to discover how these innovations can be incorporated in service operations.

Smart Car Accessories

Self-driving cars are still pretty mysterious. While companies like Ford are tripling the size of their self-driving car research, there is still a lot of work to be done before we’re all being driven around. However, car technology is still advancing with new, smart accessories.

Some of the big CES announcements incorporated smart technology into cars in ways that have never been addressed. For example, Microsoft has partnered with Volvo to utilize its Band 2 fitness wearable as a vehicle function control. Harman, a car-audio vendor, is bringing Microsoft Office to car consoles so we can listen to our emails on our way to work.

Field Service Trends CES 2016

What it means for field service: Because service techs are on the road so much, most of these smart vehicle accessories will aid field service technicians in the future, especially the SMARTwheel. This new technology will attempt to limit the number of deaths and accidents caused by distracted drivers. SMARTwheel’s wheel cover will alert the driver with lights and sounds when it senses movements that suggest distracted driving. For example, having one hand off the wheel for too long or having your hands close together, which would suggest texting on a smartphone. In the end, these alerts would help field service technicians stay safe as they travel from site to site.

Wearables Continue to Develop

As wearables continue to dominate the consumer market, the novelty and development of products has only become more advanced. It’s safe to say we’ll be wearing even more tech soon. There are even portable Apple Watch chargers to get your watch through the day. So now your portable watch is even more portable.

What it means for field service: As wearables continue to develop and grow, field service organizations will continue to adopt Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies. Some organizations will even supply their field technicians with the latest wearable technology. And for those field technicians that are already using wearables in the field, specifically Apple Watches, they now have portable chargers to ensure their device is ready for every service call.

CES 2016 field service trends

The Bigger the Drone, the Better

With over a hundred drones at the show, it is clear that they are becoming easier to use and more versatile. As the sizes of the drones are increasing, so are the quality and easiness of the consumer interface. Now, most drones have sensors built in them so that they are easier to balance and fly.

What it means for field service: With technology like the Avegant Glyph, a “personal theater” headset that’s worn in conjunction with the drone, service organizations can reimagine their service calls. By incorporating virtual reality and drones together, field service technicians will be able to see what the drone sees up close, making it easier to check those hard to reach places, like the roofs of buildings Service organizations can also use drones to increase safety by commissioning them to do jobs in high-risk zones.

CES 2016 field service trends

Virtual Reality Beyond the Gaming Community

Virtual reality and augmented reality technology are introducing us to the world of simulations and computer-generated fun. With everything from Sigma Integrale’s new racing game that includes an actual Corvette, to Samsung Gear VR, a customized headset that uses your mobile phone, it’s clear that virtual reality made its presence known at CES this year. While VR is often targeted at the gaming community; there are clear connections to field service.

What it means for field service: As mentioned with the virtual reality drone above, field service technicians can use VR to see a camera’s footage in 3D. With products like the Oculus Rift, one of the most talked about virtual reality headsets, field service technicians will soon be able to immerse themselves into what they are seeing, especially in hard to reach places that only small cameras can reach. A perfect example of field service VR is the DAQRI Smart Helmet, an industrial-grade machine that inserts real-time information, including Augmented and Mixed Reality work instructions, to maximize productivity and well-being for workers.

CES 2016 field service trends

Conclusion – IoT is the Backbone to it all

All of these developments, like wearables, virtual reality, and drones, rely on the Internet of Things. More companies are creating smart objects, making the components more powerful and inexpensive. For example, Cypress processors are being created that no longer need batteries on the field, they operation on kinetic solar or thermal power. With more than 900 companies at the show stating they have IoT products, it’s clear that the ecosystem of IoT is only getting bigger and better.

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How the Internet of Things is Revolutionizing Field Service