Tuesday , September 29 2020

Librestream raises $ 24 million to automate field technician tasks with AI

As COVID-19 cases spread around the world, Librestream emerged to protect healthcare professionals with its onsight remote streaming software and onsight cube thermal imager, which can be added to wearables for remote patient temperature testing. Today, the company announced a $ 24 million financing round to expand Onsight's presence while using AI to improve its capabilities.

Librestream offers companies a platform to connect multiple employees to collect and process photos, videos and sensor values. However, the constant challenge is to transfer the best possible field data to remote offices staffed by experienced analysts. "We want to digitize this person on the ground," said John Bishop, CEO of Librestream, VentureBeat before the announcement. "Whatever you see, whatever you hear, whatever the displays at the point of service – at the point where they are physically located, we want to bring in all of this information so that another person can come in and help them can solve the problem. "According to Bishop, the Industry 4.0 twist goes beyond what human technicians see and hear by aggregating system-level information and IoT sensor data.

Onsight benefits from 15 years of experience in optimizing data transfer for impressively challenging old-school network conditions. "We had to have adaptive bandwidth techniques that could work in the toughest environments," said Bishop, "like oil rigs and deserts and the like." In the worst circumstances, Onsight can provide a low-resolution live video and photo streaming connection for an offshore oil rig operator, even if only a fraction of the platform's classic 56 kbps modem bandwidth is used. "Fifteen years later," he said, "the biggest challenge is that no matter how much bandwidth someone has, it is never enough."

While wearables are the newest and most widely used way of data collection by remote employees, Bishop notes that 90% of Onsight XR field use comes from tablets and smartphones, with total wearables currently accounting for 10% – including HoloLens, RealWear and Microsoft from Microsoft Vuzix headsets. But the pandemic has spurred interest in AR technology. Librestream has seen a 433% increase in global usage since March 2020 and, according to a Gartner study, estimates that two out of three large field service organizations will provide technicians with XR applications by 2023, down from less than 1% in 2019.

Above: With the Librestream platform, field engineers can send a mix of high-resolution, low-bandwidth photos and videos under bandwidth-limited conditions.

Credit: Librestream

The next phase, Bishop suggests, is to use AI to automate part of the data collection process and the interaction between the field engineer and the remote office in the first phase. Librestream's plan is to "digitize the data behind the field worker" using computer vision and other tricks to help an employee quickly convert metrics or other visually collected information into actionable data. For aircraft maintenance alone, this can be analysis of audio samples to detect structural defects in the aircraft body, scanning a QR code to match a company's known part with its database, or machine learning to quickly identify an unknown part an emergency needs attention.

For example, a trained AI-CV system could recognize a Pratt & Whitney T-1000 aircraft engine, eliminating the need for remote or office technicians to manually sort options. Bishop assumes that in the future "my first call – my first lifeline for support or a digital logout – will not be a person at all, but rather an AI agent." This is what the company's current development and investment profile looks like, so it's pretty exciting. "

With Series D funding, Librestream expects to increase the number of employees by at least 50% in the next 24 months to meet the demand for onsight services, including the development of new customer bases in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, in Africa and Latin America. The company reports that customer deployments in North America and Europe have increased by over 250% in the past three years. These include numerous blue chip corporate users, from Airbus, BP and CAT to ExxonMobile, Honeywell, Pfizer, Siemens, Toyota, Verizon and Volvo.

The final round was led by the Canadian Business Growth Fund with the new investors Pender Fund and Export Development Canada. The total funding of the Winnipeg, Canada-based company is over $ 55 million.

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About Corrie Donnelly

Corrie Donnelly is a computer engineer originally born in Germany. He was writing articles about technology and computer games for websites.

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