We are excited to announce our investment in Upskill, a company that provides augmented reality solutions for the industrial workforce. Upskill’s product, Skylight, provides a hardware vendor-agnostic software platform and out-of-the-box capabilities to create and deploy custom AR applications rapidly across a company’s entire operations.
Over the last 20 years, Cisco Investments has invested in hundreds of companies across different segments. We see tremendous opportunity for AR to improve worker productivity and efficiency in an industry feeling the pressure of rising manufacturing costs. As such, investment in Industrial IoT (IIoT) is an essential part of Cisco’s overarching IoT strategy.
Instant Access to Information Increases Worker Productivity
Imagine being able to wear something that makes you more efficient and productive at your job. This might sound like science fiction, but with Skylight, it’s reality. The software operates on AR-enabled smart glasses and presents as a simple, intuitive software interface that’s visible in a worker’s line-of-sight. Hands-on workers can receive instructions, live remote support, complete tasks faster, make fewer mistakes, and update records in real-time while remaining hands-free. As a result, Upskill’s customers have seen significant improvements in worker onboarding and productivity, and reduction in error/accident rates.
Digitizing the Industrial Sector
The industrial sector is investing heavily in upskilling workers and improving their productivity to combat market forces including shortage of high-skilled labor, rising labor costs, knowledge transfer among workers and a focus on worker safety. This trend, combined with the digitization of factories through connected infrastructure and devices, has driven high spend in Industrial IoT (IIoT). Adoption of wearable technology, or “wearables” in the form of smart glasses, has been driven by hardware innovation around compute and ergonomics and availability of AR software tools like Upskill’s Skylight over the last few years. MDM support by leading vendors in 2016 provided further impetus to the adoption by getting enterprise IT teams on board.
Putting AR to Work
Have you ever had a technician come to your home to repair an appliance, and they have to leave because they don’t have the requisite knowledge required to troubleshoot a complicated issue? Enterprise field service technicians struggle with the same issue all the time. With AR smart glasses, a service technician can now access remote support in real-time. By turning on the in-built camera in the glass, an expert sitting remotely can guide the service technician. The issue is fixed during the initial service call, eliminating the extra costs of multiple service trips.
An assembly line worker that needs training on a new assembly task can use smart glasses to access detailed assembly instructions. By learning her new job faster, she can ramp up quickly. In materials handling, a worker can look up a part instantly if they aren’t familiar with something on their pick list. These are just a few of several compelling use cases of Skylight.
As developments in IoT and AR continue, Upskill has the potential to go beyond augmented reality in to real-time augmented intelligence (think predictive vs. descriptive) and enable more use cases in the future. We are very excited to partner with Upskill to drive innovation and efficiencies in the industrial sector.
About the author:Amit Chaturvedy joined Cisco in 2014 and leads the global investment practice for Internet of Things (IoT). Prior to Cisco, Amit was at Summit Partners where he sourced and led investments in communications technology, financial services and consumer sectors in US, Europe and India. Previously, he was at Cummins Inc. where he designed software for diesel engines and led customer liaison activities for Daimler Chrysler Corporation. Amit also worked in the investment banking group at Citigroup, NY.