Streem (www.streem.pro, for iOS and Android devices) is a visualization tool that takes advantage of smartphones, augmented reality through computer vision technology, and live streaming to connect home service professionals with customers through “intelligent” on-demand video streaming for purposes of qualifying and quoting jobs remotely through a virtual visit ahead of the actual service call. The contractor sends each customer a link with an invitation to Streem. If Streem is not yet installed, the link will prompt the customer to do so.
The app, which takes advantage of augmented reality by leveraging Apple’s new ARKit that transforms an object in a 2D image into a high dimensional video 3D estimation, enables a virtual visit to a customer’s HVAC or plumbing jobsite where maintenance work is needed. It utilizes the customer’s smartphone camera as he or she guides the contractor through the job for which the customer wants a quote.
During the initial video stream, the service tech can, ahead of a site visit, automatically capture product brands, models and serial numbers of appliances and parts which may be affected or require replacement or repair.
This “intelligent” advance look can minimize travel, expedite the generation of a quote, and help ensure service techs arrive on site with the necessary components (such as special joints to enable creative routing of ducts and pipes if necessary), manuals, and other documents, eliminating need to delay or interrupt workflow to obtain them.
After the Streem call is complete, the contractor can share images, dimensions, and other information captured during the call with the customer.
Once the tech arrives onsite to perform the maintenance work, an offsite supervisor can use the app features to talk the field tech through a complicated diagnostic or repair of an HVAC system or component. The app includes a laser pointer and user arrows anchored to a 3D map of the space that can be utilized to guide a conversation and help clarify the problem and resolution.
The Streem (i.e. streamed) video with the customer and any photos captured, along with the critical information for a project, can be saved as the beginning of a project file and be used in a quote or a contract, or to provide project clarity.
The app, which requires the computing device support iOS 11, carries a monthly per-user fee. While invited customers need to download the app, there is no cost to them. Free 14-day trial available to home service professionals.
Refrigerant Slider (Danfoss, http://refrigerationandairconditioning.danfoss.us, free at Google Play Store and iTunes Store) turns a smartphone into pressure-to-temperature ref slider for use at service locations. Primarily intended for commercial applications, the app gives access to 80+ refrigerants and includes information on Global Warming Potential (GWP), Ozone Depleting Potential, class, oil type, chemical blends, and CAS number. Based on refrigerant properties verified by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, it uses Antoine equation to perform the conversions.
The latest version includes transcritical P-T calculations of CO2, which makes it useful for larger plants and systems, as well. Also, R717/ammonia is included so traditional industrial applications can be serviced.
Danfoss regularly updates the refrigerant tables as new types occur in the NIST list of refrigerants.
Another free app in Danfoss’ library of digital “tools,” the Trouble Shooter, a digitalized version of the Danfoss Fitters Notes, gives access to potentially helpful information about refrigeration applications and their functions that could be useful when attempting to resolve a refrigeration system error while servicing a customer’s refrigeration system.
The app interface can offer suggestions and guide the user through sequential steps to help identify the issue. When a problem is discovered, the app gives a list of possible causes and remedies. The app database installs on the smartphone and does not need an internet connection to work.
Esticom v2 is cloud-based take-off, estimating and bid software for mid- to large-size specialty contractors. The solution includes a material and labor database with pre-built assemblies, pre-built templates for proposals and quotes, and out-of-the-box industry-specific catalogs. It is configured for use on any device with a web-browser (desktop computer, tablet or smartphone).
The software comes with linear measurements designed for plumbing and HVAC contractors and with a design-build drag-and-drop symbols database pre-built by industry professionals.
Contractors can upload customer plans. Plan management capabilities include the ability to adjust plan names, create folder structures for large plan sets, and navigate within the takeoff screen to incorporate folder structure.
The Bill of Material is created automatically as the user takes off items, with counts and materials flowing into the estimate. Users can create their own custom assemblies. The bid form allows for creating itemized, phased or lump sum pricing and estimators can adjust the labor factor and profit margin.
Automated job management features include sending automatic follow-up reminders to prospects, syncing of team calendars, tracking of customer communications and changes, and tracking of job progress to completion.
The software, which is infinitely scalable, features back-office integration with common construction accounting applications. All the information generated in the software is securely stored and physically segregated so that only subscriber companies and their authorized users can access the data.
Esticom carries a subscription-based monthly/per estimator fee. A free full-featured 7-day trial is available.
Bill and Patti Feldman write articles and web content for trade magazines and manufacturers of building products. They can be reached at [email protected].