As the hype around consumer augmented reality applications ebbs and flows, one company believes the real potential lies in enterprise applications.
Reflekt has created a platform that allows companies to turn their training and repair manuals into augmented reality applications. Today, during the Augmented World Expo in its hometown of Munich, the company announced that it had introduced a “live support” module that would allow customer support employees to interact directly with a user in the augmented reality applications.
This remote collaboration tool will work across the variety of platforms that Reflekt supports, including smartphones, tablets, and smart glasses, like Microsoft’s HoloLens. Dirk Schart, the company’s head of marketing, said Reflekt is focused on making augmented reality practical and easy for companies to adopt.
Schart believes that by doing so the company is helping AR regain some of the credibility and interest it lost when the recent hype faded.
“I think with AR, we wanted to have too much,” he said. “We wanted AR everywhere. But like with any technology, there are areas where it makes sense and there are others where other tools make more sense. We have to have a common sense, realistic view of these things. And I think we’ve arrived at that point.”
That philosophy has dictated how Reflekt has evolved. Initially, it designed a concept that helped companies create AR applications for various products to replace their paper-based manuals. While interesting, the approach could be expensive and cumbersome, Schart said. Industries like automotive had so many versions of every product that they were constantly changing. Making an app for each one was overwhelming.
So Reflekt designed a platform that could pull in data from a company’s CAD information and generate a wide range of AR apps quickly and easily. Some of these apps are distributed via app stores, while others are distributed to customers directly by the companies.
Reflekt took the next step in that evolution this week with the real-time expert assistance. The remote video collaboration tool allows a user to be looking directly at the machine, while the remote customer support person can do things like draw instructions that overlay the device to explain how to repair it.
“We want to make maintenance and support of these industrial machines as easy as using kitchen appliances,” Schart said.
The company’s primary investor at the moment is Bosch, which has supported it with early-stage capital. Schart said Reflekt is looking to open a U.S. office soon and will likely begin trying to raise its next round of venture capital in 2018.