Epson has announced Moverio Assist, an affordable new hardware/software remote assistance solution that stands to benefit A/V integrators and other small businesses that survive by sending technicians into the field.
For many enterprises like this, the ability to quickly connect a field tech with an in-house expert back at headquarters brings several benefits, including improved efficiency in solving on-site client issues and enhanced training for newly deployed techs who can more readily access the deep experience of supervisory staff. Along with some form of two-way audio, remote assistance solutions for business typically have a camera element that allows the expert to see what the tech is observing, and a two-way video link for sharing supporting media with the technician. However, as Epson officials explained, most remote assistance solutions for business that exist today are tablet- or mobile phone based, and therefore are not hands-free and cumbersome to use.
Smart glasses like Epson's Moverio products, which have been on the market for several years, can be utilized for more effective remote assistance that allows the technician to focus on the work at hand and not fumble with the hardware. The Moverio glasses, with Si-OLED display technology, superimpose the equivalent of an approximately 85-inch display in front of the wearer while still allowing him or her to see beyond, and they integrate a front-facing camera and two-way audio. They've been in use by companies that have developed their own apps for everything from eye-in-the-sky drone flying to interactive museum exhibits and subtitling support in public theaters—as well as for these types of remote assistance applications.
What's new here, Epson says, is the introduction of an all-in-one universal hardware/software solution that Epson is offering up to small businesses, a previously underserved market. Interested companies can purchase the Epson glasses from a variety of online sources—including from Epson directly or from major e-tailers including Amazon, B&H, Staples, Best Buy, and others. Two models are available, the BT-300 for $699, which will serve most businesses, and the heavy duty BT-350, $1,199, which is designed for greater adjustability for multiple users and more industrial environments. Once a pair of glasses has been acquired, they can be registered online with the cloud-based MoverioAssist.com service, and a by-the-minute usage subscription can be purchased. Final subscription pricing for the tiered plans won't be announced until sometime closer to the service launch later in the year, but what has been firmly established is the $29.99 cost of the 600-minute base plan. All that's needed to set up a subscription is a credit card, and there are no contracts or commitments, Epson officials said.
"There is a real market need for an affordable, turnkey, easy-to-use remote support solution for smart glasses that allows companies to connect in-field personnel with remote experts to collaborate on tasks," said Leon Laroue, technical product manager, Augmented Reality for Epson. "Our new solution is optimized specifically for Moverio smart glasses to easily and efficiently connect experts with field personnel for real-time communication, inspection, instruction, and sharing of documents and videos."
In practice, field techs need only a local WiFi network or mobile hotspot to log their glasses into the system; a small Android-based controller handles the communications link and provides wired or Bluetooth audio to a headset. Experts back at headquarters (or anywhere in the world with internet access) can log into the platform with a Chrome or Firefox browser and provide support with verbal direction, still images sent by the tech and then sent back with hand-annotations, printed text and and diagrams from repair manuals, videos from YouTube or other sources (which clients can't see the technician watching), or other materials.
The Movero Assist solution will be on display at next week's InfoComm trade show in Orlando, FL from June 12-14, and the clould-based service will be launched in September.