Testing Wearables in Work Instructions
The SwipeGuide team is confident that wearables are an inevitable evolution in the field of work instructions. We wanted to test this assumption in a real production environment and chose to work with the operators at a brewery in Belgium. These are the findings from the test!
Requirements for wearables in work instructions
We identified the following requirements for wearables in order to to be successfully implemented for work instructions:
Hands & arms free
The main reason we’re exploring smart glasses and other wearables in work instructions is actually that operators often need both of their hands while working. Having hands and arms free is thus the most crucial need when it comes to functionality in wearables and work instructions.
Clear & responsive controls
The second need we’ve identified is that controls need to be clear and responsive. This means that the smart glasses should be easy to operate and the work instructions should be easy to navigate on for example the side of the glasses.
Lightweight & stable
When it comes to the construction of the smart glasses, we’ve found that it’s important that there are no dangling parts on the glasses that could get stuck and cause safety hazards in the manufacturing environment. Also, a lightweight structure that is comfortable is an additional must. Of course, the glasses should be as stable as possible in order to stay on the head all day.
Clear image that doesn’t obscure vision
Last but not least, the operators should be able to clearly see the instructions projected from the smart glasses. The image should be crystal clear and shouldn’t obscure the vision in any way.
Testing the three devices
We’ve tested the above-mentioned requirements on three different devices: a smartphone in a sleeve, the Vuzix M300, and the Epson Moverio BT-350 smart glasses. We’ve also scored them based on if they fulfill the requirements fully, partially or not at all.
1. Vuzix M300:
- The Vuzix was the preferred one by the operators, however, navigation was sometimes not clear and it was not the most stable solution.
- The size of the instructions was smaller and the resolution was worse than the other options which were the main drawback.
2. Epson Moverio BT-350:
- The bulky nature of the Moverio BT-350 was a big drawback.
- The bulkiness of these smart glasses also caused some issues with safety requirements, for example wearing safety glasses was not possible with this device and the wires possibly would cause hazardous situations.
- The operators were very positive about the image quality and the responsiveness of the controls. Also, the option to use the device outside with the shades was received well.
3. Smartphone in an armband sleeve:
- This doesn’t officially count as a wearable but allows the operator to work with both hands without holding the device.
- The operators often need to reach into the machines to do operations and make changes. This can be confined and the device should therefore not be in the way. The smartphone gets quite bulky on the arm and restricts movement.
- The extra layer of plastic of the sleeve on top of the smartphone screen blurs the instructions showcased on the screen. Also, the controls get less responsive and reduces usability dramatically.
Based on the requirements set before the test, the Vuzix M300 can be crowned the winner of this test. ♛