At Dell Technologies World we had the opportunity to check out some new augmented reality service-related solutions for the Dell EMC PowerEdge family. The company sees augmented reality, or AR, as a differentiating feature in the future. AR can help its customers, partners, and field service teams better service their gear in the field moving well beyond simple 2D diagrams and videos. The company showed off two different instantiations of the technology at Dell Technology World 2019.
Dell EMC PowerEdge MX Augmented Reality
We had a chance to try out the Dell EMC PowerEdge MX augmented reality feature. The PowerEdge MX is the company’s high-end modular server that you can learn about in our hands-on Dell EMC PowerEdge MX Review. One can use the Open Manage Mobile app, connect to the PowerEdge MX chassis (even via Quick Sync 2), then start the augmented reality feature.
One can then point the device’s camera at the PowerEdge MX chassis and something happens that is near magic the first time you see it. Overlayed over the chassis is a status map across the modular components in the chassis. Each component is outlined in green or red depending on the status.
One can click on the status of a device and see diagnostic information. The red overlays show components that may need to be serviced.
We tested what happens in a more extreme viewing angle, namely when the chassis was only partially on the screen and the Open Manage AR function worked.
There were limitations as well. The AR functionality only worked on the front of the chassis and not with the modular rear of the PowerEdge MX. We were told at the show that that was in the works as is bringing this AR functionality to the rest of the PowerEdge range. If one thinks about servicing chassis like 24-bay storage chassis and being able to see the exact drive that needs to be serviced in an AR overlay, one can quickly see the advantage with this solution.
Dell EMC PowerEdge R740 Augmented Reality
Dell EMC has a great set of service videos and resources online. This is something that we frankly expect from a top-tier server vendor. What the company showed off at Dell Technologies World 2019 is a feature bringing the Quick Resource Locator function to augmented reality.
Using a demo Dell EMC PowerEdge R740, one can pull the server out of the rack, and use the mobile application to lock your iOS device to the server.
Once there, one can select a service task and the application will guide a user to complete the task.
Here is an example of using the AR features to uninstall a CPU and heatsink assembly. One can even pull up the Quick Resource Locator video on the topic in a Picture-in-Picture form.
We were told that this is an important feature since it helps techs in the field service hardware. Seeing the demo, we can see why this is better than straight video tutorials since it allows for rotating perspective in the field.
This is an emerging capability. Dell EMC told us that they plan to move to platforms beyond iOS and to other products in the future.
These are surely emerging capabilities for Dell EMC, but the direction is clear. The company is looking to use AR to help field servicing which is an industry-leading capability that many white-box vendors are still years from starting. For its customers and field service staff, these are great capabilities we hope to see expanded upon in the future.