We could not be more excited! The Augumenta SmartEyes solution was selected to help JICA continue technical training cooperation with developing countries.

In the first phase of our new project, SmartEyes enables JICA’s experts to train Ghanaian and Zambian researchers, whose work helps fight, for example, infectious diseases and advance food production.

New ways of working affecting every field of industry

Does your company work in industrial maintenance and you need your experts to travel all over the world to carry out those difficult repair projects? Or are you training people in another city, country, and continent in a technical, critically precise, and highly specialized field of expertise? It does not really matter; the challenge is universal. You face the same problems: how to keep things running, what solutions there are, and how to choose the right ones to enable remote work in your case?

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is one of the world’s largest bilateral aid agencies supporting socio-economic development in developing countries all over the world. In 2020 it had nearly one hundred overseas offices with thousands of people contributing to its programs. Cooperating at a global level means a lot of traveling. The JICA experts were flying to target countries, people from different countries were taking part in program activities, like expert training, in Japan. Until the pandemic. The travel restrictions stopped or slowed down many of the activities in JICA programs, and whereas some operations can continue from distance via virtual meetings, many cannot. One of JICA’s main assistance types in the developing countries, the technical cooperation programs, include dispatching experts, accepting training participants, and/or providing equipment to the target countries. In these highly specialized technical areas training and knowledge sharing without the expert and the trainee having access to the same equipment and seeing the same processes in detail is hugely challenging.

SmartEyes solves the challenges of communicating from a distance

As the pandemic interrupted JICA programs, the organisation launched an open call for proposals to find solutions that would help keep the work ongoing remotely. The call defined two types of cooperation programs in two African countries where the solution would first be tested. It listed a good number of requirements that the solution should fulfill to be usable by the training program participants. As soon as we learned about the call we knew it right away: we had a solution ready for them. And without hesitating, decided to pursue the challenge. As a result, the Augumenta SmartEyes solution was selected, out of 24 proposals submitted, to help Japanese experts train researchers in Africa.

The features that work for the industry work for any tough remote support tasks

SmartEyes was developed for industrial enterprises, to address the remote collaboration challenge in the industry, maintenance, and field service. But the strengths that work there fit right in with any demanding remote collaboration situation. SmartEyes has been, from the very start, designed to be an alternative to sending an expert to a target destination in person. Instead of shipping people around, you send the SmartEyes field kit. The kit has everything you need inbuilt in the system to establish a secure connection and help people see and communicate easily. The local technician is the hands and the streaming cameras and sensors are the eyes and senses of the remote experts. People can solve issues from the home office. Or equally, train a person in a difficult and detailed process.

The requirements set by JICA for the solution are needed also in industrial use cases:

  • both the researcher at the university and the expert on the remote end need a full and clear view of the equipment. So, one (mobile) camera is not enough. With the SmartEyes kit, you can set a camera or cameras to take footage of the area that you want and show things in detail.
  • In the example cases of the Ghanaian and Zambian universities, the researchers are handling delicate processes: to stop working and pause the process to make a call is not an option. And you can’t drop your tools to hold and point a mobile phone’s camera in the right direction. SmartEyes relies on the see-what-I-see (SWIS) feature and smartglasses on this. The remote expert looks at what the local researcher is doing via the glasses’ camera stream and the researcher has hands free to complete the tasks.
  • JICA operates all over the world so their remote collaboration solution needs to work properly in different network conditions and from long distances. The same applies in a far-out field service case. SmartEyes is developed to manage varying and low bandwidths and reach people a few or thousands of kilometers away as necessary.
  • The researchers are highly trained in their field of expertise but not IT experts. Regardless of your skill level, you should be able to collaborate via the solution. SmartEyes is independent of target systems, all you have to do is switch the devices on. It can be shipped anywhere; anyone can use it. The ease of use is essential for a solution like this.
  • The solution can be customized by JICA’s needs. SmartEyes is scalable and we listen carefully to our customers to match the solution with the need.

Technology to help the human cooperation

We provide the SmartEyes field kits and software licenses in the first phase to projects in Ghana and Zambia, and we’ll also coordinate the field test phase. In these countries, JICA experts train researchers in the medical and agricultural fields. This cooperation helps amongst others fight infectious diseases in the area as well as contribute to food production by researching rice cultivation. We are extremely proud to be able to contribute to the JICA aid programs.

We are also very pleased to be able to work closely together with Iristick on this project. The company has extensive experience in various types of NGO projects in developing countries and is a natural choice as the provider of smartglasses devices for a case like this. They have brought valuable expertise and insight to the JICA remote training challenge.

There’s a great need for experts to be present sharing their knowledge with trainees, colleagues, and customers in person. But people can’t travel. The pandemic shows no signs of releasing its grip in the near future. It takes time, and when it does, things won’t go back to the way they used to be. You’ve probably heard that before, maybe even too many times. But there’s no other way to put it: the way we work has changed.

We’re taking a leap, and starting a journey in a new area along with this project, but the basic challenge is the same we set out to solve last spring: smarter remote collaboration. Technology and digitalization are great enablers but it’s human cooperation that makes the difference. Let’s keep on working together!

The Augumenta team

Are you reaching your projects, people, and customers in far-out places? If you need to see in detail to cooperate, there’s a smart and easy way to do that remotely.