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Laurence Beraldo, General Manager of Fountx, a start-up company tethered to TAE aerospace, sat down with MONS to discuss the genesis of its wearable assisted reality technology tool: “We wanted to develop a tool that could help save significant costs on the maintenance of engines by removing the need to fly an engineer to the location of the vehicle that needed assisting, which can sometimes be really far.”
 
Borrowing from the fast spreading technology of augmented reality, Fountx developed a tool of assisted reality: sensory inputs such as sound and graphics are overlaid on real world environments, while the power of 'smart glasses' is harnessed to communicate remotely using telepresence.
 
Fountx comprises two systems: an operator station and an expert station. The operator station includes a lightweight headset, with an adjustable near eye display and a full HD camera for recording and image capture, and a wearable computer housed in a formfitting backpack. It also includes bone-conducting headphones to communicate with the expert. “The near eye display is crucial for retaining spatial awareness while moving around the parts that need to be fixed,” continued Mr. Beraldo.
 
The expert station, on the other hand, includes a touch screen computer that runs a Windows 10 operating system and annotation software that lets the expert draw over the top of most applications. “This allows the expert to show the operator what to do and how to do it, or where to move around the system that needs fixing to access the right parts,” says Mr. Beraldo.
 
Mr. Beraldo indicated that he would be ready to launch the system once he had signed a few contracts with some of the customers he is currently talking to, although he was not able to disclose their identity. This should happen in the next few months. He concluded: “At the moment this system costs $30,000, but as soon as we start selling and producing more, the cost will go down and this will allow significant cost savings for technical teams.” Although this is originally targeted at aerospace, the aim is to sell it to anyone who could need it, including medical teams operating in remote areas.

AV

 

 

Dr Alix Valenti tries on the operator station around Schiebel's S-100 Camcopter.

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