Remote Technical Guidance Using Smart Glasses
Selected Company: Augumenta Oy
Challenges Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Japanese experts of JICA projects were forced to cancel their travel, and it became difficult to implement the planned on-site trainings. It is difficult to accurately convey the local situation using existing remote communication tools through PC camera, making it difficult to achieve the same effect as on-site trainings. For these reasons, effective solution for remote technical guidance had been required.
Solution Three projects in Ghana and Zambia will test remote technical guidance solution that combine smart glasses, external cameras and remote communication software. In particular, the PoC will demonstrate whether the experts can accurately grasp the situation at the remote site and provide effective guidance even in an unstable internet environment. A Finnish startup Augumenta will conduct the PoC by using their remote communication software “Smart Eyes” and Iristick’s smart glasses.
Zambia “the Project for Epidemiology of Zoonotic Virus Infections in Africa”
Zambia “Market-Oriented Rice Development Project”
The Status of PoC
One training was on rice research. Zambian rice researchers at the Mansa Experiment Station, 700 km north of the capital city of Lusaka, wore smart glasses and shared their views with the Japanese experts in Tokyo and Lusaka, and the Japanese experts provided on-time guidance.
Another component of the PoC was a ToT (Training of Trainers) for farmers training. Usually, it is important for the instructors to change the speed and content of the lectures by looking at the students' mood and facial expressions. However, it had been difficult to understand such situation remotely, making it difficult to provide appropriate advice by the Japanese experts to the local instructors. In the ToT, local instructors wore smart glasses, and the Japanese experts joining remotely tried out whether the tool can help in understanding the training atmosphere and provide appropriate advice.
So far, good feedbacks have been received from the projects on the remote communication solution. However, some challenges such as the video pausing have been reported, therefore, optimization of video transmission in accordance to the internet bandwidth will be adjusted during the three months PoC period.
Training utilizing smart glass at Noguchi Medical Research Institute in Ghana
As a result of the participant questionnaire conducted after the PoC, 81% of the participants answered that some of the on-site training can be replaced by SmartEyes. Also, 54% of the participants felt that SmartEyes was as efficient as on-site trainings. Some of the comments from the participants included:
"Very effective in collecting and monitoring data in the fields ",
"The system has potential to accelerate the speed and efficacy of international research collaboration”,
"This solution enables me to solve problems in real time”,
"Economically very beneficial ",
“On-site trainings are still important, but SmartEyes would be good for follow-up and troubleshooting after on-site training programs”.
On the other hand, 91% of the participants responded that they had at least some network quality issues. The main challenges included low image quality and internet interruptions.
These issues were solved or optimized by changing the local internet service provider (ISP) or medium (WiFi / cellular) and adjusting the camera frame rate. Through such solution, it was confirmed that smart glass solutions are viable especially in cities in the target countries.
Image before and after adjusting the camera frame rate
Smart glass solutions can be highly cost-effective when comparing the expenses required for travel. It allows providing accurate guidance remotely through grasping the situation at the site more accurately compared to existing tools that use PC mounted cameras. Some of the projects that participated in this PoC are already considering the full-scale introduction of remote communication solutions that utilize smart glasses, and it is expected that its use in the field of international cooperation will expand in the future.