Senior Solutions Architect and Microsoft expert Paul Rutter explains how you can improve your Field Service operations with the IoT technology of the future, today.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Microsoft EMEA IoT design session at Microsoft UK HQ to see some of the latest developments in the world of IoT and associated technologies. I’ve previously written about my adventures in the IoT world, however this event took things a step further. We discussed some of the latest features of the Microsoft IoT platform such as advances in the intelligent IoT Edge and Azure Sphere.

A common challenge with IoT platforms is that, should a critical event be triggered, it can take a few seconds for the message to travel to the cloud, be processed and a response returned to the device to take the appropriate action, by which time a catastrophic incident could have happened. Through utilising IoT edge technology, we can now push AI models directly to devices running locally on site. The result is that, when a critical event occurs, it can be processed immediately, removing any potential delay, whilst still harnessing cloud computing capabilities.

A key concern with all IoT technology is security. The microcontrollers within all our connected gadgets are vulnerable to attack, which could provide a gateway to our homes, workplaces and sensitive data. Azure Sphere seeks to address these concerns in three ways:

  • Azure Sphere certified microcontrollers: Real-time and application processors with built-in security technology.
  • Azure Sphere OS: A purpose-built operating system (with a custom Linux kernel!) specifically designed to apply multiple layers of security.
  • Azure Sphere Security Service: A cloud-based service brokering trusts between the cloud and IoT devices.

More information can be found here on IoT Edge and Azure Sphere.

The most enjoyable part of the day was when we got hands on with the HoloLens. Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling businesses to engage with digital content and interact with other holograms in the world around you. If you’ve heard of Virtual Reality, then you will understand why there’s a lot of excitement around HoloLens. This is a product which combines Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality for use within the business and scientific world.

The example we were working with overlaid real-time sensor data onto an engine. This enables field engineers to have diagnostic information displayed directly on the machine they are working with, freeing their hands to interact with the machine, and removing the need to keep referring to another device. It also allows for engineers to dial in their colleagues, using the power of Microsoft Teams, so that they can collaborate remotely on repairing the machine.

Whilst technologies like this are still in development, they definitely demonstrate the future and the concept of Industry 4.0.

Paul Rutter – Microsoft Expert at Perfect Image

Paul Rutter is a Senior Solutions Architect at Perfect Image and Microsoft certified Partner Technology Solutions Specialist (P-TSP) in Dynamics 365. He is certified in Microsoft Dynamics 365, SharePoint and Scribe software. In 2008, he started his career in IT as a developer, and began working for Perfect Image in 2010, working his way up to lead a team of certified Microsoft consultants who are experts in architecting, implementing and supporting Dynamics 365. He has since transitioned into the solution architecture role, providing guidance and oversight to the wider delivery teams within the business.

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