Hands-on with Almer Arc at AWE EU 2023
I’ve come across several intriguing start-ups at AWE EU this year – with many of them not being accessible to consumers. While some products, like Exit Suit or Sirius Smart AR Ski Goggles, have a consumer angle (albeit the first one being expensive and the second tailored for niche professionals), there were a couple of companies that have opted for a complete focus on the enterprise market. Almer Technologies is one such company.
The product they showcased is Almer Arc, primarily designed for connecting service technicians with experts worldwide for remote assistance, among other applications.
The company markets Almer Arc as an “AR-Solution ready to go.” While it is indeed “ready to go,” with preinstalled software and user-friendly mechanics, the “AR” aspect, in my experience, is somewhat lacking. But – is that necessarily a drawback?
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My Experience with Almer Arc
I wore the Almer Arc for several minutes, and the first thing that struck me was how incredibly light and comfortable the device was. The company claims it weighs 135g, but it felt even lighter on my head. I realize that I am speaking about an AR Device, but – if at any point in the future, this weight will be standard with VR headsets, I assure you that people will be using these devices much more often and longer. The ability to just put this thing on without any top straps ruining your hair or additional adjusting is just magic.
The next thing I noticed was a display positioned just in front of my right eye – a small screen capable of showing a limited amount of information. Almer Arc lacks any tracking, so it operates in a 0-DoF, meaning that the information on display is “glued” to your head, whether you move your head or not. However, is this a disadvantage for this type of device?
Well, yes and no. Imagine a scenario where you’re speaking with an expert while attempting to fix a machine. On the one hand, having all the necessary information constantly in your field of vision would be ideal. On the other hand, during my test, I found the display to be too small and somewhat distracting, especially if I needed to focus on fixing something.
However, the main strength of this device lies in its remote assistance capabilities. Sebastian, a Co-Founder of Almer, provided me with a short demonstration of the device in action. I was able to connect to a laptop, and soon I could see the feed from the camera on Almer Arc. Despite some lag (because of the event’s poor Wi-Fi), the image quality was impressive, suggesting it could really come in handy. With built-in microphones and speakers, users wearing Almer Arc can communicate freely, listening to instructions from the expert while keeping their hands free.
Interview with a Co-Founder of Almer Technologies
Cezary Sobociński, XRDailyNews: Can you describe your product, Almer Arc?
Sebastian Beetschen, a Co-Founder of Almer: We make really compact, comfortable, and effortless-to-use AR devices complete together with solution. So we are not selling the device actually. We’re selling a solution, software, hardware, support, and replacements included. So that it just works out of the box. Because enterprise customers don’t want to have a tech gadget – They want to have a way and a solution that just works out of the box.
XRDailyNews: What are the main use cases and purpose of this device?
Sebastian Beetschen: So, basically, one thing is for remote assistance. For machine manufacturers that make complex machines and send them all over the world. And there, on average, our customers, lose about $15,000 per month per machine because it’s not running. And if it’s not running, we need to resolve it, and well, it’s pretty complex. The expert who knows how to solve it, is not there where the machine is. So you need to fly him in sometimes even, or he needs to go there and fix it and then go back.
And now with our solution, our customers, if they have a problem with the machine, the frontline workers can just take on the arc, and thanks to the camera and the sensors, the expert can see exactly what I see, and he can highlight objects in reality for me.
XRDailyNews: So this product is focused on Enterprise?
Sebastian Beetschen: Yeah, exactly, it’s for the enterprise. It’s mostly for machine manufacturers and logistics. Longer term, we also probably go into B2C, but currently, we really see a big pull in the industrial market. That’s what we’re focusing on.
XRDailyNews: So you plan on entering the consumer market at some point in the future?
Sebastian Beetschen: Yes, but we think there’s currently a lot to be done in the kind of enterprise market at the moment and there are clear use cases there. It just needs to be properly done so that it’s really effortless to use. Many don’t do it yet, really effortless and we strongly believe that we should focus really on that and execute that really nicely to make it super nice to use, and then that’s a good solid basis to go to the consumer market.