June 1, 2018: the world’s AR/VR experts descend on California's Silicon Valley for Augmented World Expo conference. The event held at Santa Clara’s Convention Center was abuzz with excitement as scores of developers gathered to contribute and experience the finest innovations in the AR/VR space. The event not only showcased cutting-edge AR/VR technologies to the world but also gave attendees an opportunity to try them hands-on. As the hype around consumer augmented reality applications ebbed and flowed, one company that stood firmly by its maxim ‘the real potential of augmented reality lies in the enterprise applications’ was Reflekt. Governed by a mission to simplify the AR complexity, the Munich-based Reflekt crafted a human-centric platform that enables any business or industry to create their own augmented and mixed reality applications in-house.
Taking center stage at the conference, Wolfgang Stelzle, founder and CEO of Reflekt introduced a brand new tool, REFLEKT ONE, their enterprise app development platform that allows companies to transform existing CAD data into AR applications for maintenance, training, and operations. “Our ultimate aim is to help companies manage their own AR and MR application development by handling the most tedious and expensive parts of the job at every step—including tracking digital data onto physical objects,” says Stelzle.
"Our ultimate aim is to help companies manage proprietary AR and MR application development by handling the most tedious and expensive parts of the job at every step"
This is the philosophy that has shaped the evolution of Reflekt over the years. Initially, the company had designed a concept that assisted enterprises to create AR applications for various products to replace their paper-based manuals. However, the implementation of the approach was very expensive and cumbersome. For instance, industries like automotive have numerous versions of every product that constantly keeps changing. Making an app for each one was a tough row to hoe.
Customers need not commit to any one of the major players, instead they can build on their own App using services from all the big players
To overcome these impediments, Reflekt came up with a platform that pulls in data from a company’s CAD information and generates a wide range of AR apps quickly and easily. These apps can either be distributed to customers via app stores or directly by the companies.
Creating Proprietary AR Apps
One of the key aspects that Stelzle emphasized during the AWE conference is creating proprietary business AR apps. Most often than not customers choose solutions from big players such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple that will force them to commit to a single solution. Stelzle has a unique perspective, he accentuates, “Customers need not commit to any one of the major players, instead they can build on their own App using services from all the big players.” He continues “Every enterprise already has everything they need to create their own business AR apps. Whether for maintenance, operations, or training processes—they already have all the data, expertise, and devices.”
With REFLEKT ONE, customers can pull and visualize available data directly on the machine or working environment. The IoT-ready platform also enables companies to create in-house apps for visual instructions and training scenarios in a cost-effective and efficient way. For example, when a machine fails, people either fumble with traditional manuals or seek assistance from hotline support. With Reflekt’s AR products and solutions, customers can connect to experts who have vast knowledge on how to fix the machine with a single click. By using their remote video collaboration tool, Reflekt’s experts can give annotations on how to fix the issue looking directly at the machine. The customer support person can also draw instructions using CAD that overlays the device to explain how to repair it, wire it up correctly and more. In some cases, there is no need to call the experts as Reflekt provides augmented reality documentation, which provides step-by-step instructions directly on the customer’s smartphone.
With this level of object recognition capability, companies can easily convert existing operator manuals, training tutorials, and process workflows into immersive AR experiences.
REFLEKT ONE has the potential to work across all platforms, head-mounted displays, pad, or smartphones, depending on the situation. By using CAD as a giant marker REFLEKT ONE can match with the real world object and augment the field of view with detailed instructions. Remote experts are able to see the device’s camera view and instruct the worker, even drawing on the image on the pad.
To further elucidate on their value chain, Stelzle throws light on their partnership with Getinge, a firm that makes X-ray machines. Getinge was on a quest to effectively train doctors and nurses to harness the lifesaving potential of their Getinge PulsioFlex visualization platform. With the help of Reflekt, they created a solution to replace complicated user manuals that inevitably get left in a drawer to gather dust. “With essential information always at hand, we see this technology as providing a huge benefit for the medical industry to significantly reduce the risk of errors and save time when configuring and installing our advanced monitoring devices,” said Dr. Martina Reiter, Head of Training, Getinge Pulsion Medical Systems SE.
Pathway to Success
Reflekt has grown by leaps and bounds from its inception. Today, the bench strength of the company has doubled to over 60 employees at Munich, Dusseldorf, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Reflekt’s esteemed client roster includes Audi, BASF, BMW, Bosch, Eon, Hyperloop, and Hyundai among others. “People are doing what’s easy first, and our goal is to make operating and maintaining complex machinery as easy as using a simple home appliance. We allow them to better utilize assets they already have, like CAD drawings and technical documentation,” says Stelzle.
After the successful event at CA, Reflekt recently made headlines when the company pulled off, what could be one of the biggest investments in the history of tech startups. BASF Venture Capital invested nearly $4.4 million in Reflekt to meet their digital technology needs for key simulation, communication, and learning use cases. Before this, Reflekt had bagged a huge investment from Bosch in 2015. “The investments from two of the world’s largest industrial companies validate our leading position in the augmented reality market. With the new funding, we will continue our strong growth and further invest in our team and products,” ends the CEO.