PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: RealWear and Atheer Go to Market to Deliver Remote Mentor Solution


It Could Cost You Up to  $22,000 Per Minute for Stopped Production (Interview)

This interview was conducted with Rika Nakazawa, VP of Strategy and Partnerships at Atheer.

Rika Nakazawa, VP Strategy, Atheer Partners with RealWear
Rika Nakazawa, VP Strategy, Atheer Partners with RealWear

Rika Nakazawa is the vice-president of strategy and partnerships at Atheer.  Nakazawa is a technology industry veteran and advisor to ventures in the extended reality (VR/AR) ecosystem, forges go-to-market programs with technology, OEM/ODM, and solution integration partners that build and deliver the best-of-class solutions.  Nakazawa strives to illuminate how to drive leading experiences where the human, digital, and physical intersect, and how we can re-invent ways people come together to create, consume, and celebrate the digital experiences that constitute life as we know it, feel it, see it, and immerse in it.

What’s Atheer all about?

We’ve been around since 2012. The company was founded on the belief that augmented reality (AR) technology could make a significant and measurable difference to how workers at industrial enterprises do their work.

The initial phase of our journey led to the development of Atheer’s own AiR Glasses, which later become the foundation for a reference design platform that Atheer now offers (combined with a multi-modal interaction platform and access to Atheer’s partner engineering team) for a license. Armed with insights derived from the experience of designing AR hardware, we used that to inform the development of the Atheer AR platform – an enterprise software solution also known as AiR Enterprise.

RealWear and Atheer - HMT-1 on Air Enterprise - Hands-free
Atheer Air Enterprise Runs Hands-Free on HMT-1

Our goal at Atheer is to set the standard for how augmented reality is used in the enterprise. To make that goal real, our AR platform is offered and optimized for a variety of strategic smart glasses and tablets, with the goal of leveraging the unique power and capabilities of each device that it runs on. In our implementation of it for the RealWear HMT-1, for example, we worked closely with the RealWear team to ensure that we optimized our experience for the fantastic voice recognition capabilities of the HMT-1.

Tell us a bit about your product or solution.

We just introduced a new version of our AR platform during AWE 2018! It introduces secure group collaboration for multiple remote experts across the supply chain to provide live video guidance and support. Also included is a major update to the Atheer AR Workflow Engine to support an increasing range of core business processes – such as dynamic warehouse pick lists, contextual task guidance, checklists, link workflows, and surveys. Integrated note-taking is now enabled throughout the platform for seamless process documentation.

The Atheer AR platform provides a rich set of AR features including gesture, head motion and voice recognition support, security (through full encryption), work instruction creation and management, task flow (a type of work instruction) history and synchronization, task flow reporting and auditing as well as “see what I see” videoconferencing for instant access to remote experts and in-view contextual documentation.

Features include support for Google Single Sign-On and other identity solutions based on the SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) standard as well as Amazon ECS-Optimized AMI (providing better support for enterprises using the Amazon Elastic Container Service).

In addition, we provide one-touch “over the air” software updates. This means that users get a notification when a new application version is ready – and the app will update itself, avoiding the cumbersome process of having to download an updated application on the user’s device and then install from there.

We also offer ability to configure the automatic launching of user surveys following the completion of a “See What I See” video call allows customers to capture vital business information about the quality of video calls (perhaps indicating the need to upgrade the bandwidth of their wireless network) as well as the quality or content of the interaction on the video call itself. This feature puts customers in charge of where and how that survey takes place, as well as whether or not the survey automatically launches.

RealWear and Atheer Solving Real World Problems

What problem are you trying to solve and for whom?  

We help companies – and the supply chains they work with – reinvent the way they work. The need for that reinvention is driven by skilled workforce shortages, baby boomer retirements, the need to manage change and reduce the cost of downtime for industrial enterprises.

Atheer Air Enterprise Runs Hands-Free on HMT-1
Atheer Air Enterprise Runs Hands-Free on HMT-1

What’s the pain point you are alleviating?

The ability for enterprises to adapt to fast-changing business conditions that require transformational technology to improve product, safety and reliability through practical and available augmented solutions that reduce downtime, cut travel costs, generate valuable business insights and provide key business process and compliance data needed to understand how an enterprise is meeting its goals.

What’s the size of this problem?

According to the latest survey data from International Data Corporation (IDC), the problem is significant in both size and scope – and it will generate huge demand across industries. It is big enough that IDC predicts that Augmented Reality head-mounted displays will see market-beating growth over the next five years as standalone and tethered devices grow to account for more than 97% of the market by 2022. In addition, IDC suggests that the biggest driver for enterprise AR is increased efficiency, followed by a desire to improve client-facing interactions, safety, remote access processes, enable hands-free work and offer more tools to design-focused employees.

Top Reasons Companies are Looking at AR
Top Six Reasons Companies are Looking at AR (Source: IDC via Atheer)

What’s the ROI opportunity?

The promise of Augmented Reality is to help ensure that industrial workers in all parts of the sector can get fast access to the remote experts, instructional content and collaboration tools they need to quickly resolve any issues that are preventing a ship from leaving port, a plane getting in the air, a truck getting back on the road, a cargo train leaving the station or goods leaving the warehouse.

So the framework for thinking about Return on Investment starts right there. What does downtime cost?

To get a sense of just how downtime can cost, consider the results of a 2006 joint survey of 101 manufacturing executives in the auto industry by Nielsen Research and Advanced Technology Services (ATS) found that, at that time, the cost of stopped production was an average of $22,000 per minute (which comes to an eyebrow-raising $1.32 million per hour).

So as you look at whether investing in Augmented Reality will provide the return on investment that you need, you may well be able to make that calculation based on the cost of downtime reduction alone. You need to start with a clear and accurate baseline for what it currently costs your enterprise to deal with downtime issues and – if possible – be able to break out cases where the cost of the downtime was significantly increased by not being able to get the right experienced person dealing with the issue in a timely way.

One great example of where this strategy was employed well comes from Porsche Cars North America. In November of last year, Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA) announced the introduction of “Tech Live Look,” an Augmented Reality technology – based on The Atheer AR platform – that is designed to improve technical services at Porsche dealerships in the United States.

Porsche did its homework on ROI and concluded that this AR solution can help decrease service resolution time by up to 40 percent, based on the findings of a pilot program undertaken in July 2017 at eight Porsche dealerships in California, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, and Washington, along with one in Canada.

Better Together: RealWear and Atheer

When did you learn about RealWear and why did we start working together? 

We have watched RealWear grow and were intrigued by the possibilities presented by the HMT-1 – as well as RealWear’s go-to-market strategy of targeting heavy industry, construction, utilities and other rugged environments. We saw a great opportunity to add value by combining the unique form factor and voice-optimized design of the HMT-1 with the broad range of capabilities in The Atheer AR platform. It was a really good fit. We also share a passion for great user experience – and we recognized that RealWear went into this with business with some of the brightest minds in the industry. RealWear knows who the customers for enterprise augmented reality solutions are, how they work and how they embrace change. Their culture of continuing to find ways to meet needs of end customer was something we shared.

What kinds of customers would be interested in this solution? Who are you currently working with?

Industrial sectors to whom this kind of solution might appeal include automotive, aviation, manufacturing, power and utilities firms, construction and mining companies, chemical companies and the oil and gas industry. We also see a broad cross of cross-industry use cases in assembly, dealer service, field service, logistics and warehouse operations, maintenance and repair operations (MRO) and training. A couple of existing interesting customers include Porsche (for its dealer service solution) and EPRI (the Electric Power Research Institute). We also have a number of customers in various stages of deployment and testing – and we encourage readers to keep an eye on our website for upcoming announcements on their great work.

This Partner Spotlight was conducted over email and completed on June 8.

Aaron is the Head of Communications for RealWear.

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