We thought it was curious that Epson dialed back their presence at Augmented World Expo last week. They’ve been a fixture since we started attending four years ago. When they asked for a private briefing at a nearby location, I knew something was up. Today, the company announced Moverio Assist for Epson’s Moverio (BT-300/350/350 ANSI) smartglasses.
Moverio Assist is the first low-cost plug-and-play remote expert system for AR smartglasses. For $699, and a monthly subscription that starts at $29.99, any field worker can have hands free see-what-I-see communications with a remote expert. No consultants, no integrators, no middleman. This is an unexpected (by me, anyway) move for Epson Moverio, which has been making smartglasses for years. They’re best known for their use by drone racers, theaters, and museums. There was no recurring revenue associated with the business; no ink for the printer, so to speak. We think this is a dramatic leap forward for the company’s AR business and might attract business away from the larger device-agnostic integrators who have been gaining momentum over the past several years.
Ryan Fink (no relation), is co-founder and CEO of Streem, a Portland-based consumer service company that connects homeowners with manufacturers, retailers, and home professionals. His company uses a patented see-what-I-see variation on Facetime. “I love seeing additional healthy competition and investment in the remote collaboration space,” Fink said. “It’s a smart move from Epson to offer a low friction path for enterprises to purchase their low-cost device and begin testing the most popular HMD use case, see-what-I-see, out of the box. It also still leaves room for more robust industrial collaboration platforms like ScopeAR, UpSkill, and Atheer, to enter the engagements once the enterprise has conducted a successful PoC using the Moverio out of box solution.”
“Most popular remote support solutions today are phone and tablet-based, and thus not hands-free. 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, Epson America. “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.”
When assistance is required, a field technician wearing a Moverio BT-300 or BT-350 with a built-in camera, powers it on and then launches the Moverio Assist app to connect with company experts logged into MoverioAssist.com via a PC. Unlike those using handheld tablets or smartphones, field technicians wearing Moverio glasses have their hands free to make repairs while getting instructions in real-time. The HMD is tethered to the external controller.
Powered by Epson’s Si-OLED display technology, Moverio smart glasses allow field technicians to view instructions, photos, PDFs, and videos in high quality, while also giving them a wearable display that minimizes visual obstruction and can be virtually transparent when necessary. Available on a per-glasses, monthly subscription basis, Moverio Assist offers an affordable, hands-free remote assistance and inspection.
If price and complexity are keeping you from two of the killer apps for enterprise AR: remote experts and work instructions, Epson has a solution. At $699, it’s disposable. No consultants, no expensive POC (proof-of-concept), no RFPs (request for proposal). You just plug it in and you’re ready to us AR the way an outfit like Catepillar does. It cost Cat a lot more than $699 for the glasses and SaaS solution.
Moverio Assist will be live in September 2019, with subscription prices starting at $29.99. You can buy the glasses right now from retailers like Best Buy, B&H, Amazon, and anywhere else computers are sold.