Imagine warehouse workers wearing a head-mounted computer that visually guides them through the aisles and shows them which product to pick or where to place it, or maintenance employees using the headset to see instructions for repairing material handling equipment.
That may sound like scenes from a sci-fi movie. But Motorola's new HC1 headset computer, currently available for field-service and training applications, could potentially make these and other futuristic warehousing applications a reality.
The HC1 is no ordinary headset. When the user pulls on the device's black web-like cap, it's almost like putting on a second brain. A video camera nestles against the temple, an earpiece sits next to the ear, and an optics display pod rests just below the line of sight. It's the display pod that sets the HC1 apart from other headsets. By looking down into the pod, the user can see maps, schematics, or any other information he or she could access through a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet computer. Users navigate through documents with a combination of voice commands and head gestures.
When a user looks into the pod, it's like looking into a microscope, but the image appears as if it were on a 15-inch computer screen, says Nicole Tricoukes of Motorola Solutions. The pod's position below eyelevel enables what Tricoukes calls "information snacking." "Users can glance down, 'grab' whatever information they need, and then look back up at what they are working on," she says.
The headset offers an optional camera that can transmit pictures or videos, enabling communication between a field-based associate and a remote expert. "The field person could snap a picture and send the image to the remote expert. Then, the expert could annotate the image like a football play and send it back to the field associate," Tricoukes explains.
For now, Motorola is focusing on the HC1's uses in maintenance and repair, field operations, and training and simulation. But the company does see a future for the HC1 in logistics. Some of its customers and technology partners are already "playing with" prototypes in warehouses and DCs.