The road to AR…

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hololensFor a long time, I’ve taken great interest in all things VR and AR, trying out all kinds of new technology, including the Kinect, Leap Motion, Samsung Gear VR and of course the Oculus DK1 and DK2, awaiting the consumer version of Oculus Rift. I’ve experimented with 3D capture using Kinect from Microsoft and Realsense R200 from Intel. All good stuff with great entertainment potential.

sensors-kin4winHowever, from a business perspective, it all got more interesting when Microsoft announced the Hololens, finally offering a true augmented reality experience in a reasonably practical device. Since what I work with is all about providing the right information at the right time, being able to show information also in the right place, right on top of installations, equipments etc, would give rise to a whole new world of possibilities.

Since then, I’ve also investigated what other options are available, and, I think, found the most promising candidate to date. Using RealSense technology and a portable computing platform from Intel, Daqri have create a helmet for industrial use of augmented reality.

Now, in order to bring business value to industries, this needs to work with existing tools for creating and managing information.

Screenshot_from_RFEM-wikipediaThis is where my background comes in handy. I’ve worked with information management for more than 10 years, using generic information tools and technologies in combination with those relevant to the particular industry. Most of these tools have excellent integration capabilities and make good candidates for providing information to be viewed through an augmented reality display.

The first step is to make sure that the information is structured in the right way, and that it carries the correct descriptions along with it. This includes structuring content according to processes, identifying stable information structures and which repositories should hold and manage them.

Second, the information needs to be publicized in a controlled way to different stakeholders, using a common project portal. While there are many offerings available, SharePoint, and Office 365, are excellent tools for this, that currently provide an attractive performance for its price.

Cardboard-UnityThird, in order to work with content in augmented reality, 3D models must be created or, in the case of existing models, optimized for augmented reality. I will investigate some ways to do this in a number of posts.

The fourth and last step is to build augmented reality apps that can leverage this information. In order to make these apps in a cost effective manner, a common framework is needed that can reuse core solution components to save time and make solutions more consistent and easy to use.

Microsoft, Daqri and others have demonstrated a number of amazing concepts and frameworks around this that I will investigate in future posts as well. One of the most promising, is to be able to do clash detection “in real life” by inspecting different layers of a building information model:

Hololens-Construction-1

 

 

 

Image from Microsoft

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