The Silicon Review
“Our two greatest markets are field service and customer service. If a company has a product that has to be installed, maintained, and repaired… Help Lightning can help accomplish all of these tasks without having to send out a technician.”
There’s still a lot of hype surrounding Augmented Reality and the market is rapidly maturing. Right now, there are billions of devices (smartphones and tablets) in use that are capable of AR functionality and completely compatible with Help Lightning — the world’s leading Remote Expertise video support solution. AR is not a monolithic market. Mobile device AR will pave the way for broad AR adoption. Then we expect to see interesting smart glasses which should lead to new hands-free use cases for the broader market.
Help Lightning helps service organizations reduce costs and increase productivity through remote video collaboration. The platform is changing the way industries exchange expert knowledge and dramatically improves customer relationships and experiences. Using their mobile device, service experts can now visually collaborate, assist with issues, and resolve problems as though they were working side-by-side with a colleague or customer — even from thousands of miles away.
Help Lightning was incorporated in 2016 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.
Gary York: Interview Highlights
About your services in brief
Help Lightning’s Remote Expertise solution uses Merged Reality to blend two real-time video streams, that of a remote expert and an onsite technician, into a collaborative environment. This Virtual Interactive Presence allows an expert to virtually reach out and touch what their service tech or customer is working on.
When you’re in a Help Lightning session, you can telestrate (draw on the screen), freeze images, use hand gestures, upload pictures and PDF files, and even add real objects or tools into the merged reality environment. With Help Lightning, service experts can show a resolution, not just describe it, even from a thousand miles away.
MR brings together two real-world environments. Tell us about your sensing and imaging technologies.
We refer to our patented technology as Virtual Interactive Presence. Help Lightning uses the cameras on existing mobile devices to blend two real-time video streams, that of the person needing help and the person providing help, into an interactive environment.
MR is gaining traction in recent times. How versatile is the application?
As organizations wait for practical Augmented Reality to become available, they are finding that Merged Reality meets their need to provide remote collaboration and it works with the technology we all have in our pockets. At a time when working remotely has become a necessity, Help Lightning helps service organizations stay connected to their colleagues and customers.
The native app runs on Android and iOS devices but it’s also compatible with mobile web browsers so practically anyone can use Help Lightning without even having to download the app. You can use Help Lightning’s Merged Reality to support anyone anywhere and at any anyone anywhere and at any time.
How do you define scalability and what are the anticipated trends in MR?
The Remote Expertise market is growing rapidly as customers discover new use cases in areas of inspection, maintenance, repair, and training. Help Lightning is currently in use in over 85 countries. As a cloud-based, SaaS solution, it can be scaled out quickly to provide virtual interactive presence anywhere.
B2B has rapidly adopted Remote Expertise in recent years, and the ROI is well established. We are seeing increasing adoption among B2C companies as consumers are demanding more rapid access to experts to solve their problems now.
We are also seeing rapid adoption as a way to address the challenges of a global supply chain and potential travel restrictions. The rapid spread of COVID-19 has caused companies to rethink how they collaborate in the presence of uncertainty. Virtual presence is a game- changer when you need to be there but can’t travel. Remote Expertise solves so many problems virtually.
Are there any defined regulations to protect the interest of the users? And tell us about your CRM.
We have invested in world-class security to protect our customers’ calls and privacy, including SOC2 certification. We exceed regulations to protect user’s privacy such as GDPR and maintain best practices to ensure the quality of our service to our customers.
We integrate into a number of market-leading CRM solutions. We have a rich API which provides for off-the-shelf and custom integrations with call center, CRM, and FSM platforms.
What challenges did you face in the initial years and how did you overcome them?
Initially, when Help Lightning was invented, mobile devices were not powerful enough for Merged Reality. Now, wireless networks and mobile phones/ tablets are more than sufficient.
How do you market your services?
Our two greatest markets are field service and customer service. If a company has a product that has to be installed, maintained, and repaired… Help Lightning can help accomplish all of these tasks without having to send out a technician. Likewise, customers can receive “hands-on” assistance from their smartphones.
We promote our app through our website and digital advertising, but Help Lightning is one of those technologies that you really have to see it to believe it. Live demonstrations are the best way to promote the app. There is a huge “wow” factor to experiencing Merged Reality on your own device.
Do you have any new services ready to be launched? Or what is the next major development for Help Lightning/Merged Reality?
Our customers are constantly teaching us how Merged Reality can be used in more powerful ways. We plan to continue to build out a market-leading tool set to deliver Remote Expertise at any time and place.
What are the future plans for the growth of your company?
We are in the early stages of the development of the Remote Expertise market. The ROI is proven, and we are seeing a transition from Early Adopters to the Early Majority in our initial markets. The idea of providing help from anywhere in the world is a transformational one. We want to make merged reality available to match problems with experts worldwide. The potential is tremendous.
Gary York: A Lifetime of Innovation
Gary York, CEO, is a serial entrepreneur, a technology enthusiast, and a contributing writer on Augmented Reality and software innovation.
He has held technical and executive positions with leading technology companies in Boston, Silicon Valley, and Alabama. Gary is a winner of the ‘Smithsonian Innovation Award’ and the ‘EDPA Lifetime Achievement Award’ for Innovation. He holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon and was a visiting fellow at UC Berkeley.
"Help Lightning’s Remote Expertise solution uses Merged Reality to blend two real-time video streams, that of a remote expert and an onsite technician, into a collaborative environment. This Virtual Interactive Presence allows an expert to virtually reach out and touch what their service tech or customer is working on.”