On June 29, 2021, Xerox announced the formation of the CareAR software business on Twitter, confirmed with a press release on September 2. Xerox acquired CareAR, Inc. (which integrates with ServiceNow). CareAR’s platform allows service technicians to access knowledge from more experienced specialists through live, AR-assisted direction. CareAR, A Xerox Company, consolidates CareAR Inc., Docushare and XMPie under a single holding company: CareAR Holdings.
What is CareAR?
CareAR is an augmented reality platform that supports live visuals and guidance. What that means is that it offers technicians a way to ‘see’ and solve issues in service environments without travelling to the site, but with the added bonus of intelligent suggestions on screen. Facetime, this isn’t.
Imagine, for example, a user with a machine problem; it could be a printer or another piece of technology. The user needs the problem fixed. In the past, they might have had to schedule an engineer call and then wait hours or even days for someone to arrive on site. In some cases, the engineer would then fix the issue in minutes.
Today, the technology exists to allow a specialist to view the problem remotely and hopefully solve it on the spot. CareAR is looking at offering solutions to these issues at an enterprise level with AR interactions, instructions and intelligence.
Augmented reality isn’t an entirely new concept. You’ve seen the technology up close and personal on phones; Pokémon go, released in 2016, was one of the first popular, viral AR games on mobile. It gave us a glimpse into a world where digital becomes part of our reality.
Now, the opportunities of subscription-based AR are being explored in service environments, and CareAR has become a Xerox Company.
Why is Xerox interested in augmented reality for service environments?
An interview with Sam Waicberg, President of CareAR, conducted by Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo, and published on The World Subscribed in video form, takes a fascinating look at the technology and Xerox’s interest in it. Watch the interview in full to see what the CareAR platform looks like and how it came about.
During the interview, Waicberg discusses why Xerox is interested in the technology. “As you know, Xerox is well known for its innovations over the years…what we’re doing now is that next-up evolution. We’re helping to transform content that’s physical, to digital, and now visual…we want to deliver consistent user experience”.
CareAR’s technology could be helpful in almost all industries, B2B and B2C, bringing together specialists and users. AR promises to be a huge market, and it’s therefore not surprising that an innovative company like Xerox wants to invest. The technology delivers a better experience for customers.
What’s more, the knowledge gained from real-life usage of devices feeds into future developments by providing a wealth of data.
Xerox is also fast-tracking net-zero. Augmented reality can support a reduction in carbon footprint, not just at Xerox but in other businesses and organisations. The decrease in unnecessary journeys, fuel consumption and emissions will benefit the environment and contribute to Xerox’s goals.
How does CareAR technology benefit Xerox production print customers?
Let’s look at an example. A Xerox case study on the CareAR website discusses how – even during a pandemic – specialist support could cross borders to support the installation of sophisticated inkjet technology. With specialists unable to travel from the US into Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions, Xerox had to find a way to ‘close the gap’ between the team on-site and the product experts many miles away.
Xerox needed a remote solution to assist the team on the ground who had less specialist knowledge of an industrial printing device. Dan Banaszak, Xerox’s Vice President of Global Manufacturing, and Carl Lopez, Xerox Engineer, used CareAR to walk the Canadian team through a two-week, step-by-step installation process; no mean feat.
What’s useful for an inkjet install is also helpful for an Iridesse or iGen install. In fact, it’s useful for almost any install – expect production print and office print alike to benefit from this kind of technology in the near future.
A smartphone can be used by a home-office worker installing a new printer at their desk just as easily as someone in a print shop troubleshooting a Versant. In both cases, CareAR’s platform can show a specialist analyst what the user sees. Instructions can be relayed back, including on-screen suggestions on their smartphone, indicating which output to use or which hose to check for leaks, for example.
CareAR has already proven beneficial to Xerox’s customer service experience. It builds on existing remote troubleshooting services to provide a more ‘in-person’ service experience. At First Copy, we believe accessibility to AR technology will only grow. CareAR is accessible on any connected device, anywhere, so Xerox engineers can help via mobile, tablet, or even smart glasses.
Won’t this all be very expensive?
CareAR is a subscription-based business. This model makes it much more readily accessible and removes up-front capital costs. As the digital transformation process continues, transport costs (both in terms of fuel and the associated loss of time) will fall away, allowing more efficient servicing more quickly.
When will this technology first come to my print room?
We’ll keep you updated as the technology develops. Our analysts won’t be walking into your premises wearing goggles just yet. However, we do expect the use of augmented reality for support to become much more common over the coming months and years; as we’ve seen, it’s already being deployed in some circumstances.