LogMeIn’s New Rescue Lens App Opens the Eyes of Tech Support

Raise your hand if you’ve ever used FaceTime to help a friend or relative fix a computer, TV, or anything else.

Now, have you ever completely ripped up your schedule so you could be there when a repair technician came to your home, only to find when the person showed up—late, of course—the problem was fixed in about a minute?

Those are among the headaches the “Internet of Things” has the potential to alleviate, with its billions of connected devices able to self-diagnose and fix problems. But until those smart machines are installed and working perfectly—and we all learn how to use them—tech support, whether professional or ad hoc, will stay with us.

Boston-based LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) considers that to be one of its big opportunities. Over the past few years, LogMeIn has been expanding its focus to capitalize on the Internet of Things through acquisitions and new products. But its newest product, LogMeIn Rescue Lens, takes a bit of a step back toward the company’s earlier focus on tech support and customer service software.

Rescue Lens is a new iOS and Android app that works with LogMeIn Rescue, the company’s remote tech support software that lets customer service professionals log in to clients’ computers and devices. Rescue Lens lets end users stream video from their smartphones or devices directly to someone in tech support, enabling them to show a repair technician what’s wrong instead of trying to describe it. The hope is they’ll be able to quickly identify the problem and guide the customer as he or she makes repairs.

If you’ve used FaceTime to help someone fix something, you get the idea behind Rescue Lens. The new app has other features, such as chat and the ability to log calls and conversations. Tech support also can highlight parts of the screen to direct customers.

Rescue Lens will be part of LogMeIn’s package of support software built for large enterprises such as cable companies, telecoms, software companies, managed service providers, and electronics and appliance manufacturers, said Peter Zeinoun, LogMeIn’s the director of products for LogMeIn Rescue.

Zeinoun said the company is pitching Rescue Lens as a product that could simplify countless help desk calls and remove the need for sending repair trucks to homes and businesses. LogMeIn will remain focused on tech products, but the idea of relying on streaming video to ease repairs extends to anything that will break, he said.

Compared to the hypothetical smart machine that can fix itself, holding up an iPhone camera to malfunctioning appliances or office equipment feels like an inelegant work-around. Zeinoun said that’s because we’re in a transitional stage where we can at least use the smart devices we have to make repairs easier.

“This really is a bridge between the Internet of Things and the typical unconnected devices,” Zeinoun said. “It really takes anything that’s unconnected and makes it connected. It takes the dumb device and makes it smart.”

Customer and tech support software has long been one of LogMeIn’s focuses, and Zeinoun said it remains so, even with the new attention to IoT. That strategy has included buying Ionia, an IoT startup, for $12 million in 2014 and creating Xively, LogMeIn’s connected device-focused analogue to Amazon Web Services. But LogMeIn Rescue remains one of the company’s flagship products, and about a third of LogMeIn’s revenue comes from tech support products, Zeinoun said.

Plus, those billions of gadgets mean billions of new problems, whether they come when someone tries to install their smart thermostat, connect an appliance to the Internet, or the office copier just stops working, Zeinoun said. So, it might be years until devices can reliably fix themselves, if they ever can, which means help desks and repairmen are unlikely to ever go away.

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