Since 2015, Anne-Fleur Andrle holds the position of Director at AMA XPERTEYE Inc., the US-based subsidiary of AMA, a French group of companies specializing in wearables applications for smart glasses. French born, Anne-Fleur graduated from UTC (Université de Technologie de Compiègne, France) with a concentration in biomechanics and biomaterials engineering. Later on, she pursued her studies at the State University of New York in Buffalo where she worked on cardiac regeneration, and obtained a Master of Science in biomedical engineering. For several years, in France, she hosted a radio show « Les Echos de l’Innovation » aiming to publicize science to the greater public and debate about the latest innovations, creating a communication channel for experts from various horizons (from academics to Nobel Prize recipients) in order to share and discuss with the audience. Anne-Fleur worked in research and development in the field of regenerative medicine successively with L’Oreal and INSERM (only French public research body entirely dedicated to human health), before joining the medical imaging world with Olea Medical in Boston, where she worked as a research and applications engineer on stroke, brain tumor and abdominal imaging.

Vishal Sapru (VS), Research Manager for Energy & Power Systems Group had an opportunity to conduct a Movers & Shakers interview with Anne-Fleur Andrle (AFA), Director with AMA XOERTEYE, Inc.

VS: Can you start by providing our readers a brief overview of AMA including the vision behind its formation and its current role in the market?

AFA: Sister company of Ubisoft and Gameloft (video game studio global leaders), AMA was created in 2004 by Christian Guillemot in London (UK). Back then, AMA was a developer and editor of applications for smartphones, tablets, interactive TVs and connected devices. The efforts and the work in the mobile sector made AMA one of the 35 GoogleTM Play Top Developer in the world among other rewards and recognitions.

Our team went to the Google I/O and purchased the first Google Glass. AMA communicated around this acquisition in the French press. Dr. Philippe Collin, an orthopedic surgeon based in Rennes, near our headquarters, quickly approached us. Dr. Collin had an idea where the connected glass could be of great use in the operating room to train fellow surgeons worldwide. He first performed tests with Hangout, the Google application, and was convinced of the strong potential of the tool for his work, but this latter was taken off the market about two weeks later. Dr. Collin convinced our team of the strong impact of the technology so we started to work together on making it happen. It was the first moments of Xpert Eye…

In October of 2014, AMA became one of the 10 companies in the world chosen by Google to develop applications for Google Glass and to distribute them: AMA was then a certified Glass Partner, the only French one. In the Summer 2015, Xpert Eye was officially launched.

Now, it has become obvious that Xpert Eye is a key player for many industries, not only medical. The idea behind our technology is to provide a hands-free and mobile kit, using connected glasses (such as Google Glass but not only) for a field operator (in maintenance, in the ER, on an offshore platform, etc.) to share its vision with a remote expert. The impact is major and manifolds: limiting the cost of transportation, decreasing the time away from the office, working towards environmental friendly industry practices, while increasing interventions and procedures efficiency and answering faster to customers’ needs.

VS: Please describe your product/technology for our readers?

AFA: Xpert Eye is a mobile kit composed of both hardware (PC or mobile phone, and connected glasses) and software. The idea is to provide a solution for people working on the field, which might be facing a technical challenge, to connect with an expert located anywhere is the world, and “share their eyes” with them while keeping there hands free. The expert can then walk the operator wearing the glass through procedures, and the operator does not have to wait for anyone to get onsite to provide guidance. The expert can remote zoom in/out the field of view of the operator which gets very handy for sanitary reasons in wound care or for high structures for example, and he can also take pictures or record interventions in order to document the session later on. Another feature that is very popular and helpful is all use cases is the possibility for the remote expert to draw a region of interest or annotate what the onsite operator sees: the message is delivered even faster and leaves close to no room for interpretation.

VS: What is AMA’s greatest challenge and what strategy is in place to overcome it?

AFA: Right now, there is no industry that has shown no interest in our solution or in general in IoT. I believe the challenge will be to stay focused, because the temptation to “chase” everyone is high when you see the attraction to our work.

VS: What is the unique value proposition of AMA and what are your key competitive differentiators?

AFA: AMA offers through XpertEye a “see what I see” hands-free, mobile and lightweight solution with a very low latency for remote expertise and training. Our solution is vendor-agnostic as we partner with the best connected glasses manufacturers on the market (Google, ODG, Vusix, etc.).

One key advantage AMA has is that we work closely with key opinion leaders (KOL) in various fields, from surgery to power plants’ maintenance and from urgent care to food and drinks industry. This allows us to carefully listen to the needs and requirements specific to each field of application XpertEye is used in.

A major competitor you may think of could be Skype or Facetime, however our products are not that similar. First, on the technical side of things: latency is greatly improved in AMA’s solution, data is secure, employees do not have to use their personal devices, our kit offers a real freedom of action and keeps the operators’ hands free. What XpertEye has to offer in a true return on investment: companies significantly decrease their workforce transportation across the globe, the time away from the office, the global enterprise carbon footprint while increasing efficiency of operations and operators’ skills.

VS: What is your strategy in regards to offering best value to customer for the price, compared to similar offerings from competitors? if any?

AFA: (covered a bit in the previous question) The way AMA works is by using a problem solving approach. Users come to us from various industries with operations issues: they look into improving efficiency of field services, of training, of mentoring, and have technical and legal constraints directly related to their industry (for example in the energy field, all material has to be explosion-safe, or in the medical industry, patient data is a legitimate concern). AMA studies each use case with a team of multi-disciplinary experts, looks into legal, practical, operational and technical constraints and proposes a solution to the users who approached us. We guide them through the process, establish proof-of-concepts with them and if their success objectives are met, then we deploy XpertEye at a larger scale and answer the problem they came to us for in the first place.

VS: Continued innovation is the key to success in this growing industry. How is the process of innovation managed at AMA?

AFA: Our R&D and product management team centralizes the two main ingredients for innovation: field feedback collected by our applications and sales team who are in constant contact with the end-users from the different industries as well as tech awareness. We then leverage these points with our technical experts and KOL to quantify the return on investment and prioritize the roadmap.

VS: What do you want the company to accomplish in the next couple of years and how would you define success for AMA?

AFA: I strongly believe AMA will revolutionize the way maintenance is done. I want the industry, from all fields, to think back in 5 years from now: “how did we do it before?” Our solutions can lower operations costs and improve efficiency while caring for our carbon footprint. And it will!

VS: Could you elaborate on the acceptance or adoption of your technology in the marketplace and are there any positive client testimonials that can be shared with us?

AFA: As I explained earlier, we aim to address problems from end-users. We actually work with a wide portfolio of users: from people who are vaguely aware of the technology, to people who already studied thoroughly the different solutions (on the hardware as well as on the software-side) available on the market. The general consensus is that they see the value of our solutions and are able to apply it in their daily work operations almost immediately. The market is definitely very sensitive to our guidance and mentoring in every step of the deployment.

I believe XpertEye (launched last summer) has a major role to play in the way maintenance and training are done, but I am also convinced that we only uncovered 10% of the spectrum of applications. It did happen to me more than once to discuss my work in both my professional and personal networks, and to have friends and peers come to me with needs we had not thought of yet!

(XpertEye is implemented mostly in POC right now, and those are in confidential stages in the US for the moment)

VS: Do you foresee the acceptance of your technology in the marketplace to have an influence on the direction of the overall market going forward?

AFA: Of course! As we prove the worth of the solution and overall technology, as we establish new ways for global companies employees to collaborate on projects and to interact, as we change the way operations and field services work, we are setting the standard for a high quality and use case focused solution in our industry and AMA generates more and more interest, both from the user side as well as from potential competition.

VS: As a general conclusion, what do you think the future holds for such technology and, more specifically, what role can we expect AMA to play in shaping the future of the industry?

AFA: Some people tend to think we are dehumanizing work relations. I firmly disagree: the human, hence the user, is the heart of our work. Innovating is great but if it does not answer to the needs of our users then it is worthless. I think the technology will focus even more on specific use cases from the enterprise and will specialize more and more. I also think that the same way the cell phone was first a gadget, then an enterprise only device, to finally become a prosthetic to consumers, such wearables will revolutionize the way we interact in our daily lives. And sooner than you may think!

VS: What are your company’s marketing and product positioning strategies? Do you plan to form any strategic alliances with other client companies?

AFA: Our marketing works two ways. First, we help the end-user convince his or her team of the worth and value of the solution, in their operations. Then, we focus on our brand and solution’s awareness in market segments we identify as strategic.

VS: What is unique about your company in regards to offering the best and differentiated service experience to customers?

AFA: The customer is the center if not the core of AMA. We value the feedback and strive to offer solutions in a timely manner. We work globally with users from all over the world, and do our best to fit into their culture while keeping our strong identity. We collaborate with our customers from the project definition to the large-scale deployment: our guidance “from A to Z” is highly appreciated by our users.

VS: Please describe the importance and focus of your company towards building and strengthening the brand equity of your offering?

AFA: To define who we are, we need to know who we are talking to. The spectrum of applications of Xpert Eye being so wide, this can be a confusing aspect of our strategy. We chose to work with our customers and not for our customers. This is a great differentiator that is highly appreciated. We identify what success means to them and help them achieve these stepping-stones by guiding them through the process, using our experience.

VS: How do you compare yourself with top competitors in regards to offering Best-in-Class solution, with a full complement of features and functionality?

AFA: For AMA, the XpertEye adventure started as we became part of the “Glass at Work” program with 9 other companies. Out of these 9 companies, I would say 3 are working in the same direction as we are with different levels of maturity. Several glass manufacturers already trust us and we established strong partnerships with ODG and Vuzix (on top of Google). We offer several products: mobile or PC-based, depending on the level of mobility and of interaction users are looking for. Our solutions work online (to connect with a remote expert or trainee) as well as offline (to record a procedure for later training for example) and come with various features: chat, video, audio (public and private), low latency, remote zoom and sound control, and photoboard allowing for picture annotation (to draw a region of interest and emphasize on a specific equipment for example). Xpert Eye is the only one of the products on the market able to offer all of these features in a single working solution.

VS: What is/are unique features of your product/technology that address unmet customer needs and competitors are unable to replicate and replace?

AFA: Offering audio and low latency on top of the other features, all together: this seems to be a challenge our competitors are unable to replicate.

If you have any further questions/comments please contact: vishal.sapru@frost.com

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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