Greg Wilkes (00:01):
The construction industry can be a tough business to crack from cash flow problems. Struggling to find skilled labor and not making enough money for your efforts leaves many business owners feeling frustrated and burnt out. But when you get the business strategy right, it’s an industry that can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding. I’m here to give you the resources to be able to create a construction business that gives you more time, more freedom, and more money. This is the Develop Your Construction Business podcast, and I’m your host, Greg Wilkes.
Greg Wilkes (00:42):
So, my special guest today is the CEO of a global business called Imint. They’re based in Sweden, and today, Nils Hulth has joined us to discuss remote assistance. Now, you might think, as I initially did when I heard the pitch about remote assistance, and I really going to use this in my construction business, is this going to be for me?
But actually, when you start listening to this podcast, I think you’re immediately going to see, as I did, what a game-changer this could be. If you actually implemented this, just think for a second. If you were in the office or your project manager was in the office, and you had your 50 engineers or workers out on site, and you were immediately able to log into their glasses onsite and see what they were seeing and give them custom instructions, wow, what a game changer that would be, how that would save in travel time, how that would make you more efficient. It’ll give you quality control. It could help with health and safety. So that’s just some of the things remote assistance can do. And as you listen to this podcast, I think your mind is really going to open up to the capabilities of it, and it’s not that expensive to get it for your business. So have a listen and see what you think. Really great to have you on the show. Nils, thanks for being with us today.
Nils Hulth (01:47):
Thank you for having me.
Greg Wilkes (01:49):
No problem. It’s a bit of a global podcast. I’m over in Sydney at the moment, and you are where?
Nils Hulth (01:54):
I am in Uppsala, Sweden, which is close to Stockholm.
Greg Wilkes (01:58):
Excellent. Great. Well, it is a small world on Zoom, isn’t it? So fantastic to have you here with us. So Neils, maybe you could just introduce who you are and what your company is that you represent.
Nils Hulth (02:11):
Yes, Nils Hulth, I am the CEO of a company called Imint. We’re a Swedish based company. We started almost 15 years ago. Originally, we started within military applications such as drones and various stabilization. We do video improvement. That’s our core business. So most of the stuff we’re doing to combat shaky video, video stabilization, we were working a lot for a long time with the drones and military applications, but never hit big. This is a slow thing, but in 2015, we had a big hit with smartphone makers, so we were introduced to Huawei, and now we are in brands like Xiaomi, Motorola, Asus, and other big ones. And so when you buy one of those phones, there is a big chance that you have our product inside. So when you fill, you get much less shake in your video.
Greg Wilkes (03:05):
Oh, excellent. Fantastic.
Nils Hulth (03:07):
Yes, we’re in almost a billion phones, I would say.
Greg Wilkes (03:10):
Yes. Wow, okay. Wow, that’s a big impact. So, how did you get into that industry, Nils?
Nils Hulth (03:15):
I got into it. I like tech companies, and I like tech companies that do products that are really helping people and close to reality, and I think this fits that market really well. Another thing we saw that some years back with a smartphone industry, this is great, but we can do more. We should be able to. This technology should be able to help more people. We started looking around for other areas around this, and it’s probably the reason why we’re sitting here is that one of the things we saw that remote assistance, we call it, is to be able to support over video, over a long distance. This is an example of other mobile cameras. It’s not just with smartphones. You can have mobile cameras like body cams or head wall cameras and so on, and those we could help with.
Greg Wilkes (03:59):
Yes, that’s really interesting. So this is why I wanted to get you on Nils because when I found out about this product that you’re offering, I thought, well, this sounds fantastic, and in construction, sometimes the industry is a little bit of a dinosaur. It’s a bit backwards in some of the things it introduces, and it’s a little bit slow. So tell us what remote assistance really is, then, and what your company does in that regard and why someone would consider that.
Nils Hulth (04:23):
Yes. So the core case is that you have only two people at two different places, and one of them is an expert on something, and the other one needs to support the expert. That’s the basic premise. And then, how can I get help here? I can call, and then I have to explain everything in video or audio, or I can take a photo, but that’s not really, that’s hard to talk around as well. And what people quite often do then is to try to use a smartphone to do a FaceTime caller or similar, not easy either. But remote assistants are solutions that let an expert help the field worker, the other person at the other end to do their work to get the job done easier with the support from the expert. In our case with the camera here so that we can give camera support and make it look as good as possible.
Greg Wilkes (05:17):
Great. And so, where would those cameras be mounted just so we can understand how it works?
Nils Hulth (05:22):
There are various versions of this. So you could have a smart glasses, helmet cameras, it could be a smartphone, it could be a body-worn camera. Smart glasses are probably not what you think it is. Mostly, I mean it could be like glasses where you like an XR style, meta quest, or something. That’s not the common thing. So the most common is more like a headband, and you have a camera mounted at the side of your head and maybe a screen position just below your right so you can glance at it while you’re doing something else. For example, if someone sends you an image of, okay, here’s an arrow, do unscrew here or connect these two wires or whatever. So that’s what it looked like, or they could be attached to a helmet or on your chest or something like that.
Greg Wilkes (06:15):
So I could see why that would be much better. But, obviously, if someone’s trying to hold a camera phone and then you’re trying to actually do something and you’ve got a spanner here or you’re trying to fix something, it’s not practical, is it? So I guess if you’ve got something mounted to your eyes or your head, that’s certainly going to make it easier for you to actually physically do the work whilst you’re being coached into how to do it. So that sounds like a good product. Yeah. Okay.
Nils Hulth (06:39):
Greg Wilkes (06:40):
So, obviously thinking about remote assistance and the devices, why have they struggled do you think, to gain widespread adoption in the construction industry? Because I have heard of this before, but we don’t really see this used in the industry at the moment. So why do you think it’s struggling to gain traction?
Nils Hulth (07:00):
There are a few things in there. First, there’s the tech. This is fairly new tech that head-mounted cameras are a few years old now. They are actually robust and sold by the hundreds of thousands all over the world. So that works, but I mean it’s still new, so you need to have the cameras, you need to have a video communication platform like a backbone, you need to have the bandwidth to make that work. All those places, all those things are constantly, of course, getting better. Like anything. And now, I would say since a few years back, that’s good enough, but it probably hasn’t. Then there’s the regular inertia of any business. I mean, you continue to do things like you’ve done them before up until you don’t. The other one is watching this video. So it’s one thing when you and I sit here and talk over a Zoom call, I’m sitting at a table, you’re sitting at a table, and there is a steady screen in front of you. It’s not shaking or anything when you have a head-worn camera. If I have this camera on my head and looking at something and you trying to follow what I do, I look at it, I move my head to the sides, suddenly someone says something to the right of me. I look over there, and it’s just utterly confusing to look at and also almost sickening. It’s really hard to watch for a long time.
Greg Wilkes (08:20):
Nils Hulth (08:20):
So, that’s one thing which it just hasn’t really been good enough to work with. And then the cost of hardware is of course, that also goes down over time.
So there we have some solutions to that. Of course, like I mentioned, head movement, obviously, and shaking are two kinds of this. There are the small shakes where you just move your head a little bit there. We can just totally compensate out that and move the images. So it appears still for the one looking at the video. So this is all in real time. It’s happening as you speak, you don’t notice it. We can also help with, if you make large head movements, we can give you a feeling keeping the context. That one is kind of hard to explain over a, you have to see it for yourself as the same.
Greg Wilkes (09:06):
Nils Hulth (09:07):
And then, I have another one, which is if you imagine the same electrician and I need the support of sound lecture, I haven’t done this job before. This is a system I haven’t seen before. We call it click and lock, where someone, the remote expert, can click on a portion of detail in the video, and it zooms in, and it keeps just that portion steady in the video. So you can see that detail regardless if I move my head around, it’ll keep that part in the viewfinder and steady.
Greg Wilkes (09:38):
Nils Hulth (09:39):
Greg Wilkes (09:40):
Yes, they sound like good solutions then. Obviously, technology’s improving all the time, isn’t it? So we’re going to see these improvements get better and better as time goes on and more people adopt these technologies. So that’s fantastic. Where do you really see this having the biggest impact in construction then, Nils? What areas do you think someone would consider using this?
Nils Hulth (10:04):
For example, like this? I mean, you are somewhere you’ve got stuck. You need to support of a colleague and they are just at a different site than you are and you can pause, you can wait, you can ask them to come there. Maybe they are with another customer and they need to travel that they can’t leave after lunch or whatever. And then there is the travel cost in there. That’s something, but it’s, I would say, probably mostly the delay of having to wait for this before you can progress with other stuff. And that’s where you can really get the help. So you put on your dash, you call them, Hey, I’m stuck here, can you help me? In best case, you can sort it out in like 10, 15 minutes instead of having to wait five hours. That can help a lot. I have also seen it used for inspections. So after you’re done just to onsite, expect inspections digitally. So you can of course, always save this video, you can let someone else watch it, but you can also walk around and save all the content. Take digital inspection round.
Greg Wilkes (11:06):
That’s really important. So, two big areas there. So one, it’s going to be hugely efficient, isn’t it? And the inspections, obviously, that’s really going to help with quality control, isn’t it for any construction company to be able to sign something off with someone else there looking at it? So, I can really see how that would help. Any other ways you think it can help?
Nils Hulth (11:28):
Those are fairly big.
Greg Wilkes (11:30):
Yes. I think they’re huge areas. And I guess you’ve got some other things like safety considerations. If someone’s doing some sort of work and there’s a safety aspect where they need to be monitored because you get things like loan workers, don’t you sometimes on-site and you need to make sure that they’re okay. So I guess it’s going to have a safety element too, isn’t it?
Nils Hulth (11:51):
Greg Wilkes (11:52):
Yes. That’s fantastic. So I could really see how that would work and help operations there. So, what are you really trying to do? You’re on this podcast, and I no doubt you’re going to be on more podcasts trying to promote this. What is your big goal and purpose as a business?
Nils Hulth (12:06):
We want to get this out in as many hands as possible. We know this great tech that can help people, and that’s what I want to do. I love doing this. I’ve been at previous companies where we’ve done taking a tech in the hands of. I worked in retail before, and just to be able to give the store stuff in that case, the possibility to help their operations and just speak and do this, I love it. So, to be able to go out and work with construction companies and see how that helped change there and make their lives easier, I think that’s great. We want to do. We really want to understand what are the problems and issues that construction companies face. We can help them.
Greg Wilkes (12:45):
I can see. Yes. Are you a global company, or is it just specific?
Nils Hulth (12:49):
Yes, global. Yes, we’re a Swedish company, but we have no business in Sweden, so everything is international.
Greg Wilkes (12:56):
Nils Hulth (12:56):
That’s what it’s like to be a technical country.
Greg Wilkes (13:00):
Fair enough. Yeah, brilliant. And I guess it really needs to be driven by the business owners, doesn’t it? This sort of thing. If a business owner needs to really drive the decisions if they want to invest in stuff.
Nils Hulth (13:14):
Actually, this is a fairly simple thing to get started with. You buy or lease a solution like this, and you start using it. It doesn’t require a lot of training. This is a simple thing to put it on. You open an app, and then you’re on the other one, and the person gets a call. So you have your mobile device, your mobile camera, like the head-mounted camera at the expert site. The other person can have a mobile phone just because they just stand there and watch it. So, that’s really easy to get started in that sense. And it is not so super costly either. I think you compare it to a smartphone or on a smartphone plan, maybe on the higher-end side, but still, it’s just not a super high investment that you have to take. And you can start fairly easy, start fairly low scale, probably with one unit, and see if it works. If you like it, you can have one in every company car that you have so you can go get it and hang it there.
Greg Wilkes (14:12):
Yes, I could see why that would be important. So to give us an idea of investment, let’s say, for example, I mean, I’m not holding you to figures here, but if you’re in the UK and you wanted to buy one unit, what sort of investment is it going to cost someone to get set up with all of this?
Nils Hulth (14:27):
So we work with various companies like Realware, for example, that do the head one camera, so then you would buy a one camera from them or someone else, but their cameras are great. That would be, depending on models, could be a few hundred quid, not so much more. And then you have a subscription for the whole service around it, including our stuff then, and that’s it. That’s what you’re paying for, and then you can grow it from there if you like it.
Greg Wilkes (14:57):
Yes, so it’s relatively low cost, really, isn’t it? For the efficiencies that it’s going to save. That actually sounds brilliant. And yes, the brain’s firing now, and different ways that construction companies would be able to use this. So obviously, I coach construction businesses on how to be more efficient, how to make more money, and how to get a better job done. And I can just see already if someone comes in with this, it’s really a bit of a unique selling point for them to be able to win the business because they can demonstrate to clients that we’ve got something that no one else is using at the moment and this is going to make us more streamlined, more safe, better quality. I can really see why that would work. So, thinking about companies that you are working with at the moment that have potentially incorporated this into their businesses, what results are they seeing? Have you got any stories or examples of how this is working?
Nils Hulth (15:47):
So we’ve got some examples. For example, with our solution is new, really new, and we’re launching it more or less right now. Realware that I mentioned earlier that my classes they be doing this for longer, a few years on the market, and they worked with construction companies. One company that worked with I saw a 75% reduction in travel because of the glass, which is huge. And I would say that the travel cost is one thing, has lost hours that you get, that’s fine, but just the domino effects of not having the weight for someone else traveling. I think those are the biggest ones. And when you have to stop everything at the construction site to wait for someone that costs a lot of money and a lot of frustration with the client.
Greg Wilkes (16:36):
That’s the huge, I mean, the downtime on travel is incredible really. So that’s going to pay for a device immediately with one day of travel. You’ve paid for the device, haven’t you? So that’s a bit of a no-brainer there. I can really see that. Where do you see the future of it, Nils, then? So obviously, you’ve spoken about what it can do now. I’m sure you are thinking well ahead, especially now we’ve got AI solutions and whatever else. Where do you see this going eventually? If we were 10, 20 years in the future and we were using this technology, what do you think it’s eventually going to be able to do?
Nils Hulth (17:06):
Of course, you mentioned AI. One of the things is that now I’m speculating into the future but you could have these cameras sitting on you and get constant guidance of what’s happening in front of you, get it to comment. Okay, I should do this. Or automatically document for you when you’ve done stuff, say for quality and inspection follows.
Greg Wilkes (17:29):
Yes. Wow. I was just thinking, I imagine one day you’re probably going to walk into a building, and you’re just going to walk around. Someone’s just going to look around at everything, and it’s going to capture it all, isn’t it? It’s going to capture the defects, the potentially takeoffs of how big the building is, and the measuring things. And I bet the applications are going to be endless in a very short period of time.
Nils Hulth (17:52):
Yes. I mean, when you combine this, if you have a whole drawing of what it’s going to look like, then you can overlay the video on top of this and see where everything was and so on. So just walking around and doing it like inspection can be really streamlined.
Greg Wilkes (18:08):
Fantastic. Yes, it really does sound exciting, Nils. So if someone’s listening to this podcast and they think, yeah, I can see, let’s imagine I had someone on yesterday who is building up, he’s got a big team of engineers, and they’re all around London, and they’re doing electrical inspections and plumbing and heating inspections, things like that. So his company’s growing really fast, and there’s clearly going to be a need there for him to be able to monitor those and provide assistance. So if someone like that is listening to this podcast, what would be the next steps? How would they find out about this or take this further?
Nils Hulth (18:39):
I love them to reach out to us and come to our website, vidhance.com, V-I-D-H-A-N-D-C-E.com, or weareimint.com.
Greg Wilkes (18:52):
Yes, we’ll put all these in the show notes as well, Nils, so that everyone’s got that too. So they’ll reach out to you, and then you’ll assess what their potential needs are and be able to provide a bit of a solution.
Nils Hulth (19:04):
Absolutely. That would be great. Looking forward to hear from all of your listeners.
Greg Wilkes (19:10):
I’m sure you will. Yes, it is an absolutely fascinating product, and I actually thought it was going to be a lot more expensive than what you’ve just said. So the cost of what you’ve said it is. It sounds very small considering the payback that you’re going to get over time. And as an early adopter, if business leaders are coming in and they’re becoming early adopters of this, I think they’re going to be ahead of the game. They really are compared to other companies if they think about this sort of stuff. So I’m absolutely fascinated by tech, as I’m sure you are, Nils. It’s quite an exciting times for living in, isn’t it?
Nils Hulth (19:41):
Greg Wilkes (19:41):
It’s exciting to see. Well, Nils, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate you telling us all about this product, and what we’ll do is we’ll put all that in the show notes, so if anyone wants to contact you, they can certainly reach out and ask you more questions about it and see how it works for their business. So, thanks for your time today, and thanks for visiting us all the way from Sweden.
Nils Hulth (20:01):
Yes, thank you so much for having us on.
Greg Wilkes (20:13):
If you’d like to work with me to fast track your construction business growth, then reach out on www.developcoaching.co.uk.