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Suppose an aircraft or machinery operator needs a field service technician for engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul but there is a delay in the technician’s arrival. In such an instance, the company may incur huge losses. However, what if the operator had an alternative to get real-time advice from an expert based anywhere in the world without having to rely on a field service technician to arrive? Wouldn’t that be revolutionary in a situation requiring immediate assistance? Understanding the significance of real-time interactions between individuals or teams, Australia-based Fountx makes it possible with augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR).
TAE Aerospace conceptualized such remote mentoring in real time taking inspiration from the research of Australian federal government agency, CSIRO.
Fountx is an outcome of TAE Aerospace’s industrial research and development and real world trials using CSIRO’s study on human behaviour to address the issues faced while using AR, VR, and MR systems. The two organizations decided to develop a next-generation enhancement to video conferencing, when they designed the Fountx system, a wearable headset for the aerospace industry. “We designed a tool that is easy-to-use and has an intuitive human interface. This concept is similar to teleporting knowledge between two people,” explains Laurence Beraldo, GM, Fountx. It is a wearable mixed reality system, which allows a remote expert to support a technician in real time.
Fountx’s system resolves the issues of latency that are usually found in teleconferences alongside addressing the needs of uncontrollable industrial environments
The system uses proprietary software and hardware that enables users to communicate quickly with the help of audio and ‘intuitive gesturing.’ This wearable system addresses the issues of latency and special awareness that are usually found in video conferences alongside addressing the needs of use in uncontrolled industrial environments.
Fountx’s wearable technology is offered as a lightweight headset along with a wearable computer, which is housed in a formfitting backpack for physical comfort and empowers companies to undertake repair and maintenance work without the trouble and expense of having to send an expert to the site. Alternately, the lightweight headset can be plugged into the latest Android smartphones or Windows tablets. The remote expert can access information and resources that are not usually available at the site and can also train the maintenance staff with the help of the Fountx system. It reduces the downtime cost at sites distantly located from the head office.
During development, Fountx has helped large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the aerospace industry and Asian airlines to achieve 100 percent success rate in their trials. The firm’s wearable system significantly boosts the productivity and capability of a company’s technical team. It reduces maintenance downtime while improving accuracy, quality, and safety in performing the maintenance tasks. Fountx’s wearable AR system can be used as an out-of-the-box solution or can be customized as per the customers’ demands. The capabilities of this system can further be substantiated by the way a Queensland-based health organization used it for clinical trials and surgeries. The surgeons at the healthcare organization appreciated the wearable system as they found it easy-to-use and reliable in surgical environments. Considering the wearable system’s significance in such environments, Fountx has developed its next version that is now being trialled by other health departments in along with several global airlines. “We see ourselves partnering with global companies for distribution of our products across the healthcare sector,” concludes Beraldo. Also considering the tremendous growth opportunities beyond these industries, Fountx is modifying its platform to address customers’ needs across various other sectors with strong interest from oil and gas, construction, and resource sectors.