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Augmented Reality for Maintenance Operations?

Augmented Reality for Field Techs? A bit far fetched? Maybe not…….

The Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab at Columbia University has worked on two augmented reality systems for use in structural engineering and architectural applications. The first, called “Architectural Anatomy,” overlays a graphical representation of portions of the building’s structural systems over a user’s view of the room in which they are standing . A see-through head-mounted display provides the user with monocular augmented graphics and tracks the position and orientation of their head with an ultrasonic tracking system. The other augmented reality test bed system addresses space frame construction. The space frame is assembled one component (strut or node) at a time. For each step of construction, the augmented reality system:

• Directs the worker to a pile of parts and tells which part to pick up by playing a sound file containing verbal instructions.

• Confirms that the worker has the correct piece by reading a barcode on the component.

• Directs the worker to install the component. A virtual image of the next piece, with a textual description fixed near it, indicates where to install the component, and verbal instructions played from a sound file explain how to install it.

• Confirms that the component is installed by asking the worker to place hand at a particular location on it (denoted by the barcode), then determining the position of the hand.

This research demonstrates the potential of augmented reality’s x-ray vision and instructional guidance capabilities for improving architectural construction, inspection, and renovation. While this is somewhat cumbersome at the moment, the technology and the processes surrounding it be enhanced to the point where iPhone apps will allow field techs to receive work orders in the field, augment missing information on their devices with BIM information and request information, parts and download relevant tech guides and MSDS where applicable all without leaving their job site. This type of technology is just over the horizon and with a gentle push by vendors will be in the next generation of IWMS solutions.

It is easy to extrapolate this technology to other areas of facilities management – Space analysis and space inventory, facilities assessments, energy management and so on.

BMW already use this technology for their service bays, so it won’t be long before it becomes common practice in the FM Maintenance Field (see this link)

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