Simplifying Wearable Maintenance Technology
A new startup called Klatt Works is aiming to simplify head-mounted, wearable maintenance technologies for MROs by removing complicated steps and barriers to entry.
While there are a number of headset-based tools on the market built to provide technicians with access to work instructions, guidance and documents, Klatt Works is focused on removing more complicated bells and whistles, such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and instead providing a basis for customers to quickly and easily create their own instructional content from existing documents.
According to Ed Riehle, Klatt Works’ director of business development, the bar to entry for AR/VR wearable systems can be too high for some maintenance organizations because it requires the collection and creation of step-by-step content from potentially thousands of pages of documentation for various maintenance procedures. “I don’t need my mechanic to know to turn a screw left or right on a certain process—they know how to do that kind of work,” he says. Instead, says Riehle, technicians need help with things like annotating steps or confirming and proving that processes were performed correctly.
He adds that while AR/VR can be helpful for certain engineering aspects such as the design phase, it may be less so “for the guys on a rotary wing and the tail end of an aircraft trying to figure out how to do a process. They don’t need something fanciful to tell them how to do their jobs.”
Klatt Works’ MX Accelerator system focuses on taking the content creation step out of the process, using existing tech manual documents and adding an interactive interface for technicians and their supervisors to manipulate and interact with these organic documents “out of the box.”
Built on RealWear’s HMT-1 voice-activated headset platform, MX Accelerator incorporates some of the functionality familiar to users of headset wearables, such as task checklists, accessing how-to videos and schematics, telepresence capability to communicate with supervisors, and the ability to record photos and videos of completed actions for use in reports. Technicians’ supervisors are able to upload, edit and assign tasks on the back end in the cloud, which are pushed to a technician’s headset. Riehle says the system is easy to update and documents can be created and customized on the fly from uploaded PDFs.
MX Accelerator was developed in part through the U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research Program in 2019, during which Klatt Works demonstrated the technology’s use for maintenance processes on the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey at Cannon Air Force Base. Since then, Klatt Works has developed the technology further and secured an unnamed southeast Asian military customer. It is working on development projects with several companies in commercial aviation and other industries.
MX Accelerator comes as a bundled solution including RealWear HMT-1 hardware and software available via a subscription model. Klatt Works says the system is available for purchase and it is hoping to break into the commercial MRO market.