For the past seven years, Scope AR has quietly revolutionized workplace training and equipment maintenance in traditional industries, such as manufacturing, natural resource development and aerospace. But the release of staggering new return-on-investment figures for their customers could change everything for this sleeping giant.
An augmented reality training solutions provider, Scope AR counts several multi-billion-dollar clients — with more expected to come knocking as word spreads about the results they can expect.
In May 2018, aerospace juggernaut Lockheed Martin reported seeing up to 99 per cent efficiency gains using Scope AR’s smart instructions tool during the manufacturing of NASA’s Orion spacecraft.
“They were hoping optimistically for a 30 per cent reduction,” says Graham Melley, principal and co-founder of Scope AR. “That kind of improvement is unheard of.”
WorkLink — a tool that enables creation of AR guided instructions, which are then overlaid onto real-world objects — allowed Lockheed Martin workers to gather and interpret information more efficiently than with traditional paper-based instructions. It has even been considered as a way to help astronauts be more self-reliant during missions to deep space.
Founded by former curling champion David Nedohin, software engineer Scott Montgomerie and Melley, a 3D content expert, Scope AR was the first company to use augmented reality to solve industry problems, such as an ageing workforce and job hopping.
“Every industry is struggling with what they’re going to do when the ageing workforce retires — how they capture the expert knowledge they have; how they make sure it’s in the hands of the workers that need it,” says Nedohin.
Unilever, one of Scope AR’s clients, estimates that in the next five years it will lose 330 years of expertise to retirement at one U.K. factory alone. Looking for ways to reduce equipment downtime, the company began using Remote AR, a live support video calling application that allows technicians to collaborate with experts remotely.
That laser focus on the needs of industry almost didn’t happen.
When Montgomerie first started dabbling with augmented reality he, like many other entrepreneurs at the time, was interested in applying the technology to the video game industry. It wasn’t until Atlas Copco hired Scope AR to pilot a training tool for a mining expo that the founders realized the far more significant, more scalable opportunity lay with industry.
Amid 600-ton earth movers and expensive drilling equipment, Scope AR stole the show with their jerry-rigged augmented reality glasses (they had to be physically hooked up to a computer tower), which displayed instructions on how to disassemble and reassemble a rock drill.
“We were supposed to do three demonstrations a day… we ended up doing over 100,” says Nedohin. “After about half a day, [the event organizer] went to Best Buy himself and picked up a P.A. system for us, because we were all losing our voices.”
“That was the moment we realized that industry was probably where we wanted to focus our energy.”
The demonstration led to more clients, like Boeing and Caterpillar, as well as the eventual creation of WorkLink and Remote AR, which allowed the company to scale from a service provider to a leading software engineering firm.
Scope AR has grown significantly over the years — from three co-founders working out of Startup Edmonton’s open office space to 30 employees and counting.
Nedohin expects the company could potentially double or triple within the next year, as more companies transition from pilot projects and proofs of concept to implementation.
Lockheed Martin’s success will certainly help. ARtillry, an augmented reality and virtual reality intelligence firm, reported that these kinds of ROI results will help build towards a tipping point for enterprise adoption around 2020.
Written by Michelle Ferguson