Could augmented reality make solving engineering problems faster and cheaper?

Find out how researchers at BT Labs are exploring the use of augmented reality to support engineers in the field.

Engineer often stumble across new problems and need the advice of specialists for further guidance, but can you imagine how difficult it can be to explain an issue and receive advice on how to resolve it over the phone?

It often means having to send the specialist out, wasting time and money. But what if engineers could share their challenges with others remotely? Augmented reality could hold the key.

[Read more: What is mixed reality?]

BT’s researchers at Adastral Park have been exploring how engineers can live stream their work to their peers using Microsoft HoloLens. The remote engineer would not only be able to see what is going on but could also annotate what they see for the on-site engineer to view through the smart glass device.

The technique could prove particularly useful in training new engineers.

“Imagine that you are an apprentice and you don’t know exactly how to fix something or how to do something, then you can use devices like this one,” explained Anasol Peña Rios, research fellow at BT Technology and Research.

The self-contained computer features a number of cameras as well as voice and gesture recognition to better help engineers explain their problems to a remote expert. 

HoloLens is currently being tested in a number of other industries, including in the medical world. Developers at Imperial College London have used the headset to overlay CT scans on patients, effectively enabling surgeons to see through a limb during the operation.

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