As founder of Epiphan, I’ve always been interested in our customer feedback to develop new features and products. Whether the need has been for higher resolution video capture, increased frame rate or integrated streaming, we’ve designed new and updated products to help our customers succeed.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with some Epiphan customers who are high volume purchasers of our video grabbers. Through our discussions, I learned we have several customers who are using Epiphan video grabbers and video capture devices to build remote support and diagnostics systems. I’m working with them to build a comprehensive commercial solution for this problem.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share my ideas with you and I hope you’ll use the comments section to share with me what features or what unique business challenges you have that could be solved by a remote support system solution.
We’re also actively searching for beta customers, please let me know if you are interested!
This project is so new that we don’t quite have a name for yet. We’ve considered calling it Overnight Technician to describe its function or Apollo to evoke a sense of communication and support over great distances.
No matter what we call it, Epiphan wants to offer an evolution of our existing video capture, encoding and remote KVM technologies in a single integrated system that augments traditional remote equipment support models. Our goals are to provide a solution that reduces unscheduled downtime and keeps equipment performing as well as possible.
What’s the current remote support model?
Traditional manufacturer support uses phone calls and online chats for equipment setup, operation and troubleshooting. These text and voice-based systems don’t include a way to see what’s happening with the equipment displays or visualize operating problems. When this limited communication isn’t enough (which is frequently the case), the company sends a technician on-site to further examine the problem.
Often what happens is, after the technician travels to the customer site to examine the equipment and display screens, it’s determined the problem is relatively simple to fix. So the technician may only spent a few minutes at the customer site, but the total downtime (including initial telephone or online troubleshooting and travel time) could be days. Furthermore, while the technician is traveling to and from the customer site, his expertise is unavailable to assist other customers.
We want to improve remote support
We’re proposing a solution that offers a new level of comprehensive, reliable remote support that can eliminate the need for travel to customer site, solve problems faster for customers and free technicians to help a larger number of customers.
Using video cameras, a remote keyboard / video / mouse (KVM) and live video streaming, we can place the technician at the customer site virtually. Using high-speed wireless internet connectivity, the system transmits real-time video of both the situation under observation and high-resolution display screens to the remote technician, permitting visual collaboration. During the remote support session, the technician uses a lightweight client to access the KVM for remote keyboard control of the equipment and/or its interface computer.
With visibility and control over the equipment’s computer interfaces almost all problems can be solved remotely. Even for those cases where a technician would have been sent!
Both the customer and the company save time and money, and loss of valuable equipment operating time is minimized.
I see a number of ways this system can be deployed. It can be
- sold with equipment as part of a support contract,
- shipped on an as-needed basis or
- purchased by equipment operators who want augmented remote support for all their hardware.
The possibilities for equipment that could benefit from this solution is endless. Off-shore oil rigs, medical equipment, precision die tools, manufacturing line equipment, microscopes, remote weather recording stations and more!
Where do you think Overnight Technician/Apollo will work? Do you have a unique situation you think will benefit from virtual remote assistance? Do you have product name suggestions? Leave a comment and help us shape this new product!
When can I get it?
We’re currently looking for Beta customers for our first prototypes in September 2015.
If you’re an equipment manufacturer, or someone that needs to support your own equipment operations, take this chance to get in on the ground floor and help us build exactly what you need. Contact us and let us know how we can work together for joint success.