Microsoft Remote Assist vs. HoloMeeting

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As it becomes more and more necessary for dispersed teams to find solutions to collaborate better and more closely, immersive meeting tools are increasingly needed.

There are a number of new applications arriving on the market which take advantage of advancements in technology and notably with the advent of Mixed Reality and advanced augmented reality.

Having previously compared HoloMeeting with the remote communication solution MR Studio by Arvizio we will now take a look at will compare Remote Assist, an application by Microsoft, the creators of HoloLens itself.

A clear use case for Mixed Reality and Microsoft HoloLens

Remote assistance has been a much sought-after application on Microsoft HoloLens since it was first launched in 2016. In fact, one of the initial Microsoft industrial spotlights was with ThyssenKrupp piloting a scheme to help fix their elevators more efficiently*

The feedback from this pilot was positive with the company reporting a considerable reduction in the time it takes engineers to fix faulty machinery from two hours down to just 20 minutes.

It is clear then that remote assistance-type applications can be an important step forward for Mixed and augmented reality.

Introducing Microsoft Remote Assist

Microsoft themselves have learned from this and released their own remote assistance application, the aptly named, Remote Assist.

Microsoft’s Remote Assist application was released during Microsoft Buildand its limited-time free preview became available on May 22.

Similar to HoloMeeting’s Live Feed Feature the immersive app allows for connecting and collaborating using hands-free video calling, mixed reality annotation, and image sharing.


How to get started with Remote Assist?

A HoloLens running the Windows 10 April 2018 Update as well as a work or school account with an Office 365 Business Premium or Enterprise subscription is needed. Also an internet connection (at least 1.5MB of bandwidth is recommended) and a contact using the latest version of Microsoft Teams on a PC running Windows 10 (for video calling) are required.

Just like in HoloMeeting, in order to upload pictures, participants of Remote Assist log into their Microsoft Onedrive Account. Members using a PC running windows 10 can also choose files on their computer. The type and amount of files which can be uploaded through Remote Assist are somewhat limited.

On the contrary, members of Holomeeting are able to upload more than 60 different file types such as 3D models or 2D documents.

HoloMeeting

Having started the Remote Assist app, users will see a list of contacts to choose from for a video call. During the call, it is possible to draw into space - a tool comparable with Holomeeting’s Freehand Draw tool.

Remote Assist is definitely set up to be a one-to-one application for companies already using Microsoft Teams.  

HoloMeeting is an easier setup

For HoloMeeting, meeting participants require a Hololens, another Microsoft Mixed Reality device or a Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet. The respective HoloMeeting build needs to be installed and an internet connection is required. It is therefore somewhat more adaptable than Remote Assist due to the increased hardware options available.

There is also more to the live feed feature of HoloMeeting when compared to its Remote Assist equivalent. One of these additional features is the possibility to adjust the bandwidth of the video by clicking either small, medium or high on the left side of the shared display - easy and useful when struggling with bad internet connection.

This is especially useful when considering that the remote expert i.e. the person who is most likely using the HoloLens, will be in the field more often than not. Remote assistance jobs take place in factories, on work sites, in unfamiliar office locations - it is rare to have a strong and free Wi-Fi connection. Many remote assistance jobs then will take place via Mobile Hotspots which HoloMeeting takes into account with this feature.

Also, users can take screenshots and enable 'recording mode' which allows participants not only to see the user's field of view but the full scope of the HoloMeeting itself (including any shared files and the holographic avatars of other participants).

To point at things easily, Remote Assist has an ‘arrow feature’ where participants can place arrows in different sizes into their space.

In a similar vein HoloMeeting developers have created a remote inking feature which allows  the user to place symbols directly into other participants' fields of view.

HoloMeeting - beyond remote assistance

Although both are remote communication tools, Holomeeting comes with many useful features and therefore has a broader field of application. Due to its numerous features and, above all, the visualisation of more than 60 file types, it can replace in person meetings and be utilised for remote assistance cases as well.

Microsoft's Remote Assist does serve a specific one-to-one use case well, it has to be said but the 'off the shelf' increased capacity of HoloMeeting means that the application can do so much more than this and can be used for meetings, training, design, collaboration and more.

Thanks also to the holographic avatars in HoloMeeting it is a more realistic and personalised meeting experience.

Nevertheless, Remote Assist is obviously a useful tool for remote assistance use cases. For instance, Microsoft has partnered with ZF Group, a German car parts manufacturer headquartered in Friedrichshafen. For the past four months, the company used Remote Assist for daily technical assistance calls.

We are, of course, thankful for the close collaboration we have with Microsoft and look forward to developing many more features to help companies stay connected internally and externally.

*ThysennKrupp have since gone on to be a client of ours for HoloMeeting.

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