9 min to read

Video calls and visual assistance calls - the pros and cons for each

Frequently we get the question, “Why do I need your remote video support solution when I can just use a normal video call?”. A valid question. So let's compare the two and see which one that suits your needs.


Regular video and visual assistance video- what is the difference?

If you are relatively new to the concept of remote video support solutions, it is a common misunderstanding to see it as a more expensive version of FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, GoogleDuo, and other video call solutions. So, let’s once and for all point out the distinguishing differences between remote video support, also called visual assistance, and a video call.

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People focus vs. Problem focus

To start with, the entire purpose of using each solution is very different. Yes, both solutions focus on connecting people, but the main reason to connect is fundamentally different. 

With a regular video call, you usually want to have a conversation with your friends or family where you also can see each other - to make it more similar to meeting “IRL”. So most of the time you look at each other, even if you might turn the camera around to show your cat doing something funny.

In a remote video support call, the purpose is not to look at each other, but instead to jointly look at the same problem. Instead of ‘person one’ seeing ‘person two’ and vice versa, in a remote video support solution, both parties are looking at the same video feed. If I am connecting with a service technician to get help assessing a malfunctioning printer, seeing face-to-face video is not ideal. It’s much easier for us to collaborate if we both see a clear image of what my camera shows (the printer), versus me, only seeing a miniature version up in the left corner of the screen. 

So the purpose of each solution is entirely different, which then results in more differences between the two.


Effects vs. Tools

Many video call solutions such as Google Duo and Messenger do have Augmented Reality features to add funny effects or accessories to your face. And yes, a digital pair of bunny ears might be the key to success for a normal video call but are less helpful when you are trying to help someone solve a problem or inspect a piece of equipment.

With remote video support, you have access to tools to better enable you at guiding the person you are talking with. So, if I show you my malfunctioning printer, which you for the benefit of this example is an expert on, you can use the pointer to show where I need to press to open the control panel. You can also freeze my video feed and draw on it, perhaps showing how to turn on one function or dial down another. This is a simple example but highlights exactly what visual assistance is designed for, to connect you with an expert who can help you through the different steps.

Presenting vs. Problem solving 

Online meeting platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, are built for meetings, video conferencing, webinars and online events. Participants can see each other on the call and share their screen with each other, which is often used to present a PowerPoint presentation.  

Teams meeting

In both Teams & Zoom, you can also turn your mouse into a laser pointer to draw attention to something on a slide. But with only one presenter at a time, the person presenting will have to stop sharing their screen before anyone else can share. In a remote guidance call, it is a lot easier to jump between views. You can see what the other person is seeing, share your screen, share a picture, draw or point on the screen, and then go back to seeing the live image of the problem you are trying to solve.  

Imagine that you open a control panel and find yourself looking at seven cables in a row. You are now being told to pull out the second left green cable. Now add into the situation that you and the person who is guiding you do not speak the same language. With a visual assistance solution, you can overcome language barriers by using the pointer function to point at the specific cable and confirm that this is the right cable to pull.   

Higher vs. Lower bandwidth  

When you video call people via FaceTime or WhatsApp, a poor internet connection can easily disrupt your call by freezing the video or cutting out the sound. That is because it requires a higher bandwidth, when you have two video streams going at the same time. If you use a remote video support solution optimized for visual assistance, you only need one video stream. This is lighter on the network and therefore easier to use in remote locations, for example power grids in Brazil

Another option to conduct a remote video support session when the internet connection is failing you, is to record the session and show the recorded video on the mobile application once the connection is restored. There is no threshold to start recording, and if you often get support cases on the same machine, you can record the session one time and save it for later use. If you are working with high-speed machines, you can also conduct remote support calls on a slow-motion video. 

App vs. Web application

Typical for video call solutions is the fact that most of the time, both parties in the conversation need to have the same app installed. This is not a big obstacle when you connect regularly - usually you check what type of video apps each person has and you might discover that both have Messenger and decide to go for that. 

In a business setting, this is slightly more complicated. More often than not you might not be connected with your intended counterpart on a common solution. If you work as a service technician that provides support, you most likely need to connect with new people every day. For each and every one of these interactions you don’t want to waste time on figuring out which video call solution to use this specific time - instead you want one that works with anyone. Which is exactly what our visual assistance solution is built for.

With XMReality only the person who initiates the call needs the app (or desktop application) installed. You can then share a link with the person you want to call; you can choose if you send it as a text message, email, or any other chat function you might be connected through. When the other person clicks on that link, a call will be initiated through their web browser, so no need for them to download an app or create any account. 

image on screen - hands overlay

It’s really just as simple as that - they just need to click on a link and it doesn't matter what type of smartphone they have as long as it has an internet connection and a camera. You can of course also place calls between two people who have the app as well, then you don’t need to send a link, simply add the other person as a contact.

Remote Video Support: Just as simple - but more powerful 

 Using XMReality is just as easy as making a regular video call and even more accessible since you can connect with anyone you like regardless if they have the software or not. It’s great when you want to solve problems around malfunctioning equipment, or perhaps do a remote inspection as part of your preventative maintenance or sometimes train new employees in the field. But if you just need to catch up with a friend or a colleague and have a friendly chat, a normal video call is what I would recommend. So each solution has its own intended use, which it is optimized for. 

Simplicity makes for great ROI

Since XMReality is built with simplicity in mind, we can guarantee that you will be able to implement the software in a short amount of time, with a minimum amount of training and no complicated integrations or software setups required. All of this makes for excellent scalability within your organization and a fast return on your investment. 

Augmented reality field study: AR video compared to regular video



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