Welcome to the second installment of our latest blog series “Wearable Tech User Profiles,” in which we interview some of the top users of wearable technology in the enterprise, from world-renowned physicians to leaders in a variety of industry sectors who are all pioneering the use of wearables on the job. Today, you will get to hear about Stephen Gamst’s experience with wearables in his own words. Gamst is partner, owner and operator of Las Vegas Air Conditioning, a frontrunner in HVAC, and also an EWTS ’15 thought leader; you can learn more about Stephen here.
BrainXchange (Q): To begin, how about you provide us with a little background on yourself and your career? What do you do for a living and how did you first learn about wearable technology?
Stephen Gamst (A): I am a third generation air conditioning contractor, born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. Happily married with one daughter, I try to keep work and home balanced. At both work and home I try to “do a good job”. I wanted to do better than the other guy and that in a sense is how I landed on Google Glass. I wanted to be completely un-reproachable to our customers. I wanted them to feel like they could trust me and my company. Now people usually trust us already so it hasn’t been a problem but that was no reason not to do better. So I imagined being able to walk into every home, hand the homeowner an iPad or simply give them our Google+ address so they could go login and watch live as we went through troubleshooting their home’s air conditioner or heating system. But not only that, all our followers and the other great HVAC professionals who we have connected with are also watching and participating in the repair. There would be absolutely 0 chance to do anything other than the proper and safest repair. If the broadcaster started to make a mistake, the audience would stop him because the HVAC pros are only there to prove who's smartest so they would love to call you out on a mistake.
BrainXchange: When did it become apparent to you that wearable tech – specifically, Google Glass – could benefit your work? How do you use Glass in the workplace?
Stephen Gamst: When I learned of Google Glass, I immediately knew it was my answer. I was lucky enough to be an early explorer and ordered two of them to start. I started recording video of my jobs then uploading them straight to YouTube from Glass. The live stream was not what I had expected but for recording hands-free video it was the best. I was also able to stream straight to the iPad so I started handing homeowners iPads and they could watch us work from their couch if they wanted. Imagine a mechanic who says, “Ok, you need 4 new spark plugs.” Did he change all 4? Or only 3? Now a video of him diagnosing the spark plugs as bad and of him replacing them with 4 new, out of the box spark plugs…that would be the best and I’ll bet you’d use that mechanic again.
BrainXchange: What did it take to incorporate Glass into your business? Did you seek out technology or software partners? How did your employees react? Were all on board with the idea of wearing Glass while they worked?
Stephen Gamst: All of our staff is on board with the wearable technology. We only hire high-quality individuals who aren’t afraid to be on video while working. That is something to consider: An air conditioning company or any type of business willing to broadcast themselves live to the Internet using Google Glass – I would think that company is better than the rest. Because if you have nothing to hide, then why not record it? There are a lot of crooks out there (in the service industry) and I’ll bet they wouldn’t want to be recorded, so choosing a contractor who is conscious enough to look for ways to provide a better, more transparent service will ensure you don't get taken advantage of next time you have to call a service professional.
BrainXchange: How did you determine the success of your live video feed program/service? What was the general customer feedback? Why did customers like the service? Why did customers not like the service?
Stephen Gamst: Our business has taken a complete 180 since the implementation of wearable technology. We have been able to simply give people great service that they can trust. That itself has helped our business grow faster than expected. We have also been able to catch so much original content for our website and YouTube channel that our company’s website has gone up the ranks to be usually 1st, sometimes 1st and 2nd. I attribute a lot of that to Google Glass’ making it so easy for us to catch real footage.
BrainXchange: We heard you ran a local TV commercial to promote your Glass service. Was that successful in generating business?
Stephen Gamst: The commercial was mildly successful, not in the ways you’d expect but the trickle-down effect from the commercial was huge. News 8, News 3 – it reached all the way to New York. And that equaled new business and more exposure. So yes, I’d say the commercial was successful.
BrainXchange: Do you plan to use Glass in other ways, perhaps for training purposes or to enhance your technicians’ first-time fix performance?
Stephen Gamst: We plan to use Glass for training and evaluation performance, yes. We already have technicians use Glass and stream to us when evaluating their technical ability. Google Glass has been working on the live stream ability for some time now. When that works better, we will open up many more doors with the technology.
BrainXchange: Describe your ideal Google Glass of the next generation.
Stephen Gamst: My ideal Google Glass would be able to host a hangout on air that was open to the public and could broadcast from a business’ Google+ page (not just a personal page). It would also have two-way communication with your phone so you could start a broadcast off your phone, which would be easier than swiping the Glass itself. Glass should also be able to stream live and charge at the same time. That way we could wear a battery pack and record or stream videos longer than 40 minutes.
BrainXchange: Have you explored any other wearable tech products? Can you see other wearables making an appearance in your workplace anytime soon? Which ones?
Stephen Gamst: I have explored most all wearables and found them all lacking in my opinion. There are even services that claim to be Live Stream or U stream. There are a few and they charge good money but in fact they are not live, they give 10 second delays. So I searched programmers, computer guys, stores and online for a product that would allow me to broadcast a live stream from the field and with 0 delay, so viewers could help, watch and ask questions in real time. None can do that so I eventually made one that could by assembling three existing products into one, and it worked. So I immediately started offering to waive our company’s diagnostic fee if the homeowner allowed me to broadcast the entire diagnostic process live. That means that when we work on your heating or air conditioning equipment, 100 other HVAC professionals show up with us watching and that’s a lot of combined experience working to get you fixed.
BrainXchange: Do you use any personal wearables while not on the job? Have you pre-ordered or do you plan to buy an Apple Watch?
Stephen Gamst: When not on the job I like to de-tech. I don’t even like my phone chirping.
BrainXchange: Describe for us – or rather imagine – the future of wearable technology in HVAC (or in field service & utilities).
Stephen Gamst: The future of HVAC is this: “Every reputable service business is going to have their technicians equipped with wearable technology.” The smartest guy will no longer enter the field. He will in fact be in an office watching the live feeds from all of the technicians, ensuring that not just his call got done right. But he’s watching every call and making sure every customer that called his company got the proper repair for the right reasons. If a technician runs into a jam or encounters something new, the service manager walks him through the repair. If everyone did that, nobody would get ripped off and the stereotype of Air Conditioning men ripping you off would end.
Stephen Gamst is partner, owner and operator of Las Vegas Air Conditioning, Inc, and author of the “AC Repair Matrix,” a step-by-step, how-to air conditioning system repair tutorial available as an app. Stephen will speak at EWTS ’15, sharing his insight on the session “Preparing for Wearables in the Enterprise: First Steps for You & Your Business.”