Virtual reality technology brings real-life rewards

SPRINGFIELD company Fountx has topped off a great year with a win at the 2017 Ipswich Business Awards.

A subsidiary of TAE Aerospace, Fountx won the Innovation category at the Civic Centre on Saturday.

The company developed a product known as Fountx AsR (assisted reality), which allows aircraft technicians to link up with remotely located experts in real time when they encounter difficulties.

The techology behind Fountx AsR was developed by the CSIRO at Pullenvale and adapted for use in the aerospace industry.

According to Fountx general manager Laurence Beraldo, the product could save many millions of dollars a year in aircraft maintenance downtime and associated costs. Mr Beraldo said before Fountx AsR came along, a technician would have to wait for an expert to fly in to help.

"Now, the technician can put on the Fountx wearable and immediately connect with an expert who can see exactly what they see," he said. "The expert can essentially carry out 'virtual maintenance' from the convenience of their office, guiding the hands of the technician who physically performs the tasks.

"The hands-on training and learning benefits for the technician on site is obviously a huge advantage too.

"The important difference with assisted reality technology is vastly improved safety for the user. Workers can access the guidance they need by looking up to an above-eye display, and they can still clearly see what is right in front of them. It doesn't affect their spatial awareness or increase cognitive load, which is a big advantage over virtual or augmented reality technology.

"The time and cost-saving potential of this technology was evident from the start, and we've now developed it to the point where we believe Fountx AsR is the best system of its kind in the world."

Fountx's technology also earned it the national Aerospace Australia Civil Industry Innovation Award at Avalon Air Show earlier this year.

TAE Aerospace was a finalist in the Business of the Year category at the Ipswich Business Awards.

Much of the product's finetuning was achieved from the Fountx base at Springfield's innovation precinct.

"We needed to operate like a start-up to speed up our time to market. To do this we stepped away from the TAE Aerospace head office in Amberley and moved to a co-working space in Springfield, which is an ideal location for fast growth businesses," Mr Beraldo said.

"There is great infrastructure here and a like-minded entrepreneurial community which is growing all the time. From here we have travelled around the world to demonstrate the enormous benefits of this technology. We are in confidential discussions with leaders of some of the world's biggest names in aerospace and aviation. It's a very exciting time."

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