Ahead of VR & AR World 2016, we caught up with Epson’s Valerie Riffaud-Cangelosi to discuss technology, industry challenges and providing augmented solutions for B2B customers.
Thanks for taking the time to discuss VR and AR technology with us! Can you please tell our readers a little bit about your role at Epson and your experience of working in the AR field?
I am Head of New Market development at Epson Europe, looking after Moverio smart eyewear. At Epson, we have been developing and selling smart eyewear for 5 years since 2011 and our range of binocular see-through smart glasses are aimed at tackling the AR market which represents a tremendous potential.
The business space is currently offering a lot of opportunities in a wide range of market sectors such as medical, manufacturing, automotive, aeronautics, retail and arts & culture among others. The extent of the application opportunities is limitless.
Ahead of your sessions at VR & AR World, could you tell us about Epson Smart Eyewear, and how you’re using the products to meet client requirements?
Epson has been developing its own core technologies for years and our smart eyewear is based on some of those core components that Epson develops, manufactures and owns, which gives us a lot of flexibility to deliver our products rapidly all over EMEA, and we now have a full range of products coming up. We have been working for a few years now directly with end-users to clearly understand their use cases and environment constraints, and we adjust our product development accordingly to fit their use case requirements. From the software perspective we work closely with selected partners who all have proven abilities to develop breakthrough solutions for Epson smart eyewear which are all Android based.
What are the 3 most common challenges you face working in this industry?
We face one major challenge: making customers understand they can deploy projects today – AR is not a futuristic technology.
There are several ways of “Augmenting the Reality” and they do not all involve gigantic budgets and massive resources; some simple straight forward solutions can be implemented in a reasonable period of time and create valuable benefits and/or savings to the companies. All other challenges can be overcome by giving sufficient support to customers so that they can progress their projects by introducing, for example, the right ISV partner that has the ability to clearly understand their requirements.
Are there any areas Epson is keen to focus more heavily on in the future?
We have already identified markets & projects where we started to deploy products, such as any industries keen on developing remote maintenance or visual assistance applications, or museums to enhance their visitors experience; the medical sector as well has been quick to implement simple and straight forward solutions to display information while keeping its eyes on patients.
All those are examples of what we will focus on in the next year but we have a few other projects coming up in very different sectors such as pharmaceutical, retail and architecture.
This year we will even introduce a new model Moverio BT-300 that will be a key accessory to pilot drones as a unique first person view piloting system and we have just announced a global partnership with DJI.
Which 3 industries do you feel will benefit the most from augmented reality, and why?
All of them!
The beauty of smartglasses and AR is that if you discuss with any industry, in any sector, they come up with an idea of application/solution in their own domain. And if they are ready to kick off a project, with the support of our ISVs, we can come up with a solution that will benefit their business, and help them gain in terms of efficiency, costs, time saving and resources.
Finally the customers who do benefit from the solutions are the ones who did the maths first and engage with an idea of where they will end up using our solutions.
Are you currently working on any new augmented reality products (that you’re allowed to talk about!), and if so how will are they set to benefit B2B enterprises?
After 5 years, we’ve understood one important point: there are so many potential uses that you cannot pretend to cover all of them with one single device.
Those 5 years have been beneficial to Epson in helping to understand what customers want, need and can actually use; and we balanced this against what we can technically achieve while maintaining a reasonable price along with meeting those expectations.
By the beginning of next year, we will therefore have 4 models in our range, to tackle the markets we target and are ready to deploy.
Do you feel that augmented reality technology has more potential in B2B industries than virtual reality?
At Epson we think that AR has a very bright future, that is why we focus on binocular see-through eyewear, with a centred image projected right in front of your eyes.
This technology opens an enormous range of mid and long term opportunities, and each generation of products & software solutions will bring new use cases and enhanced applications. We have a hundred years of innovative solutions ahead of us!
If you had to picture the future of AR in ten years’ time, what would it look like?
It will be used in all businesses through lots of different applications, and each will make sense for the professional they will serve. AR will be used to simplify tasks, enhance experiences, make every action faster, easier and more exciting.
It will be just useful and natural. And of course smart eyewear will be the best device to access this.
What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s VR & AR World?
We will for the first time show our entire new existing & upcoming range of smart glasses, and we are looking forward meeting a lot of potential customers to convince them by trying the products that they do not have to implement those solutions. Tomorrow’s reality is today!
If you’d like to find out more about Epson’s augmented reality products, please visit the Epson website. You can also hear more from Valerie at VR & AR World, where she will be discussing Epson Smart Eyewear – Tomorrow’s Reality; Today and joining the Panel Discussion: Augmented Reality in Enterprise.