ChallengeFinding a reliable and flexible WebRTC-based live video solution to support an AR application.
SolutionThe Video API and The Enterprise Plan
ResultsHigh-performance, scalable and robust remote assistance app and Enhanced support features
When "Easy-to-Assemble" is Anything But Easy
If you’ve ever been surrounded by instruction manuals and strange looking tools for putting together an “easy-to-assemble” piece of furniture, you will no doubt understand the pain of not having some assistance – someone, anyone – to help walk you through the job.
But what if you could have that helpful someone in your hand – on a mobile device – explaining and visually demonstrating the right way to proceed? That is the basis on which Help Lightning developed its mobile communication, collaboration and cognition platform for users needing assistance with purchased equipment. With end-users currently spanning 85 countries, Help Lightning enables its customers to visually share directions with their users using live video on their mobile device.
Many of Help Lightning’s customers manufacture relatively complex pieces of equipment. To support these kinds of users, companies typically offer an 800 number that connects to a call center. If an issue can’t be resolved over a phone call, then a field service technician must be dispatched to help. However, that process can be extremely time-, cost- and labor-intensive for the manufacturer and end up offering a poor experience to their customers. For instance, many pieces of equipment are mission-critical to the customer; a delay in the help process might even result in a life-threatening situation. Therefore it is imperative to fix the problem as quickly and effectively as possible.
Using Help Lightning has proven extremely beneficial to such companies. In a recent article in Field Technologies Magazine, IDC Research Analyst Aly Pinder notes that there is an extreme shortage of technicians in many markets, and having remote support capabilities can help fill those gaps. Pinder suggests that by using remote assistance technologies manufacturers can improve productivity, drive revenue and/or become more efficient while optimizing business processes.
According to Gary York, CEO of Help Lightning, “If you are a Help Lightning customer with users who have issues with the equipment they purchased from you, our app enables you to visually show your users how to solve the problem and at the same time lets you see what your user’s situation is.”
“Help Lightning blends two video streams. The user employs one video stream on their mobile device to show the technician the problem, and the support expert uses their phone’s camera to virtually reach into the field of view and demonstrate how to fix the situation. We merge the two video streams in real-time so that the process is truly interactive.”
One example of how customers depend on Help Lightning can be found at Becton Dickinson (BD), a major manufacturer of healthcare and hospital equipment. As part of the support for their blood testing equipment, a lab technician using the equipment is able to call BD support to get any issues with the product resolved quickly.
“Becton Dickinson uses Help Lightning to be able to see what is going on with the equipment,” said York. “But even beyond that, the lab technician can see the hands of the expert guiding them through the necessary adjustments to try to fix the issue. BD’s expert walks the lab technician through a process of inspection, maintenance, and repair to figure out what’s wrong, and in many cases, to resolve the problem.”
The Vonage Video API Powers Next-Gen Augmented Reality
York refers to the technology that was developed by Help Lightning as “merged reality,” which is a type of augmented reality (AR). “We invented this next-generation solution for the remote expertise market. It is a rich, scalable, cloud-based infrastructure that uses our patented technology on top of WebRTC.” WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a free, open-source project that provides web browsers and mobile applications with real-time communication via APIs.
“The Vonage Video API got our attention early on, as a leader in implementing WebRTC, “said York. “The Vonage API provides world-class, reliable and scalable WebRTC and the Vonage team has been very willing to work with us to make sure that our technical and performance needs are being met.”
Certain features of WebRTC were especially important to Help Lightning when they were searching for a video partner. They needed an API that would offer a full, rich, and complete implementation. “The Vonage API offers a lot of sophisticated features that are important to us,” said York. “But the most valuable aspect of the API is the performance, scalability, and robustness of the solution. We’ve experienced incredible uptime for our solution with our customers. Some of the credit definitely goes to Vonage for providing 24x7x365 service with incredible reliability and consistent performance.”
Upgrading to Enterprise Level Support
Help Lightning recently upgraded their level of support with Vonage to become an API Enterprise customer. “As we’ve grown, we’ve had demand for features that are part of the API Enterprise Plan,” said York. “It was the way to go and has given us access to a deeper level of support. Before that we were happy customers but now with even broader support, we’re really happy. We’ve grown to the point where the investment is paying off in many ways.”
“Vonage provides world-class, reliable and scalable WebRTC and the Vonage Video API team has been very willing to work with us to make sure that our technical and performance needs were being met."
GARY YORK, CEO, Help Lightning