Back when FEO AR co-founder Raymon Lubbers worked as an account manager, selling internet and satellite communication equipment to the shipping sector, he was already amazed by the huge expenses that came with a technical disruption on board a ship. “With a daily charge of USD 1800 and business class tickets for the engineer, the costs of resolving a technical issue out on the water can pile up in no time. And sometimes the solution was simply giving it a good bang on the top – so to speak – after which everything was up and running again.” Surely there had to be a better approach…
This eventually led to the concept of FEO Augmented Reality. Vessels are fitted with smartglasses and augmented reality software that in many cases allows crewmembers to resolve a technical issue themselves. Lubbers: “Part of the process runs via the computer. Where required, the crew can also call on the real-time assistance of experts back on shore. The bandwidth for the connection can be as low as 128 kbps – which does come in handy on sea-going vessels.” Another big advantage of the smartglasses is that the wearer has both hands free to work on the problem.
Maritime Elon Musk
Even though the business case for this concept is quite clear, it initially met with a lukewarm reception from the maritime community. “‘So you’re the new Elon Musk of the marine sector,’ people would say with a wry smile. It didn’t get me very far.” The mood shifted after the team completed the 2017 PortXL programme. “During those 3 months, we definitely stepped up our game in terms of business focus and professionalism. It was a truly amazing experience. And the same goes for the Selection Days. Even when you aren’t one of the winners, you acquire so much new knowledge, tips and energy that it’s more than worth the effort. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to any maritime-related start-up.”