Written By:
Aaron Salow

XOi + RealWear Join Forces to Bridge the Skilled Trades Gap

10,000 baby boomers retire daily, shrinking the technician talent pool

The field service industry faces a retirement tsunami that is taking the most experienced, skilled technicians out of the labor pool. When I sit down with CEOs of service companies and ask them about their top challenges, the skills gap tops the list for all of them—whether they have five technicians or one thousand.

There just aren’t enough younger trade professionals coming into the industry to replace every technician who retires one to one. That’s why technologies like XOi Vision™ are becoming essential for field service teams. Using video on connected devices allows technicians to work more efficiently with customers and collaborate easily with other technicians.

Changing customer expectations will require more transparency

Helping your techs work smarter is important, but the bigger question is how to grow your business moving forward. The Vision™ platform enables technicians to interact with customers in new ways. Providing video documentation of problems and solutions establishes a higher level of trust and transparency that today’s customers demand. The result is more opportunities to grow revenue.

A wearable solution that works—and works hard

Our customers can deploy Vision™ on a smartphone or tablet, but combining it with wearable devices such as glasses or headsets delivers a truly hands-free technician experience. That is why I am very excited about our partnership with RealWear.

RealWear is the global leader in AR wearable computing for the industry, and they’ve created a wearable product that I believe will change the field service industry by allowing technicians to work more safely and much more efficiently.

The RealWear HMT-1 is a rugged Android computer incorporated into a headset. It is just as powerful as a tablet but is completely hands-free. Technicians operate the HMT-1 through its voice-controlled user interface. When we saw the device we thought ‘wow, this thing is big.’ We were very excited.  

Voice-activated commands create a truly hands-free environment

Wearing the HMT-1 headset lets technicians use Vision™ without missing a beat. The video documentation created for customers can be even more powerful because technicians keep both hands free to demonstrate problems or point out completed work. And you don’t have to worry about a technician falling off a scaffold or ladder while recording video.

RealWear has done an excellent job of engineering their headset for voice-activated commands. It is one of the most impressive features of the HMT-1, in my opinion. The unit has four microphones and advanced algorithms to perform noise cancellation, so it performs accurately even if there is 95 dBA of noise on the job site.

Other manufacturers claim to have voice-activated commands, but RealWear has done it in a way that actually works in loud environments that techs face every day. I have an HMT-1 with a hard hat.  It works like a charm every single time. We’ve been really impressed.

HMT-1 is tough enough for real-life conditions in the field

When you’re an HVAC tech in the commercial space – you’re not dainty about how you use technology. Working with customers, we learned a lot about durability, battery life, and general adaptability to weather conditions and varying quality of connectivity.

Let’s be frank, it doesn’t matter how slick a technology is if the unit is dead all of the time. HMT-1 battery life is very strong. When you’re on a 10-12 hour shift, that’s important.

HMT-1 is very durable in terms of the mechanical functionality of the unit. With just two buttons to the entire system—there’s not much that can break. The overall user experience is impressive. When it comes to product quality and functionality in the field, RealWear has been on the top of our list.

Read my interview with RealWear for more details about how our technologies work together. Or learn how XOi customer, Lee Company, has used hands-free wearables to create over 14,000 pieces of content over three years.


Using any mobile or wearable device, Vision™ empowers your technicians to solve problems faster, delight your customers — and increase your bottom line.