Company-X becomes New Zealand partner for RealWear head-mounted tablet

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Company-X is the first and only New Zealand and Australia reseller for head-mounted tablets from established global innovation leader, RealWear.

The agreement adds additional capability to Company-X, which also recently purchased Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) business Pepper Creative.

RealWear is a leading manufacturer of head-mounted tablets, or HMT-1s, as well as the intrinsically safe HMT-1Z1 for areas where explosive gasses are present. The lightweight headset has a narrow “boom arm” with a “micro-display” that appears as though the worker is viewing a 7” tablet screen. The screen can be positioned just below line of sight, so the user can easily see glance on the screen like a dashboard. To keep the experience completely hands-free all inputs are entirely voice-activated.

“Essentially, it’s a ruggedized tablet computer completely optimised for hands-free use that clips on a hard hat” Company-X’s AR/VR specialist Lance Bauerfeind explains. “It runs off the Android operating system and apps, so we can write customised apps for our clients, exactly like you can for a tablet. The core functions that are built into the headsets are the voice command functionality that has been enabled for all existing apps and navigation.”

Lance and his team first came across RealWear’s HMT hands-free wearables when looking for a device for a client’s onsite inspections and audits. They had already tried a competitor’s device but found the first option blocked the user from seeing people, which was a barrier. The HMT-1 or HMT-1Z1 is designed specifically to maintain situational awareness while improving productivity.

“We’d heard of RealWear,” Lance explains, “but were initially sceptical of the smaller screen. Our concerns were unfounded as it is very user friendly as the screen is mostly a reference check for the voice commands.”

“We are pleased to find a partner that adds a powerful sales channel in the Australian and New Zealand market, with real experience in the application and use-cases of wearable technology,” said Rocky Scales, Executive Vice President, RealWear. “This channel will help accelerate RealWear’s market growth and expand our userbase and ecosystem in a country that is well recognised as an innovation leader.” Scales continued: “We carefully select our resellers who add additional value and have proven relationships with their regions and reach. We have found such a reseller in Company-X.”

“Being part of Company-X strengthens our ability to develop apps for use with the HMT headsets, including back-end connectivity and databases,” explains Lance. “We can build the apps to incorporate functions clients need in one place, rather than having to step out of the app and use other tools, such as taking photos or transcribing observations that the user can narrate into the device.

One project using RealWear HMT is a proof of concept with off-site monitoring requirements, as Lance outlines.

“The challenge was to help technicians onsite at remote distribution hubs. The technicians carry out repair and maintenance on site so using the HMT needs no computer or laptop. You can’t take a laptop into an explosive area, which was needed here, but you can the head-mounted tablet, and the HMT-1Z1 model is certified as intrinsically safe.”

Because it’s handsfree, users can carry on working, so for testing, inspecting, repairing functions, troubleshooting is going to be more efficient.

The device can also be used just like a smartphone for remote voice calls. Users can also share camera feed for picture-in-picture video calling. This means a technician can discuss an issue, record it and save it. Information stored in the device is synced back to their corporate systems.

Anything you can do with an app on your phone, you can do through this headset but just using voice commands instead of tapping the screen.

The opportunities for companies like Company-X in the wearable devices space are significant.

As a result of their initial projects with RealWear, Pepper Creative has built up a good relationship with the HMT team. When RealWear was looking for resellers in the Australasian market, Company-X jumped at the opportunity.

“They’ve spent over seven years perfecting the product, so the usability is excellent,” says Lance. “We believe in the product and are excited about the opportunities.”

“You only have to see the rise of tools like Siri and Alexa,” says Lance. “Pepper Creative’s integration into Company-X has meant that there’s now the resources to be a full reseller here. Being able to provide the hardware as well as the software means we can offer a fully integrated service, as well as opening up further business opportunities in Australia.”

Smartphones have sped up the development of these technologies by miniaturising components and developing new technologies. Now hardware is catching up to make big ideas possible, accessible and more affordable.

“What’s exciting for us, is that these technologies are now within reach for local businesses here,” Lance adds.

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