Mixed reality” headsets to make life easier on site

Microsoft is launching two new trials of its HoloLens “mixed reality” headsets as it bids to revolutionise the construction process.

The software giant is working with Trimble and the Construction Information Technology Lab at the University of Cambridge.

The first trial is looking at Automated Progress Monitoring in a bit to modernise the laborious and time consuming practice of regularly, and manually, inspecting remote structures.

Microsoft said: “The process is currently conducted through visual inspections, form filling and report writing, and is made particularly painstaking by the need to extract information from different drawings and databases.

“The new trial revolutionises the process by presenting all physical and digital information through HoloLens, allowing inspectors to check, cross-reference and report on inspections very quickly, and collaborate with site representatives.”

The second trial related to Automated Bridge Damage Detection.

Rather than sending structural engineers to each bridge as part of its inspection routine, high-resolution images can be taken by local teams and sent to inspection engineers.

These are then automatically mapped onto 3D models of the respective bridge.

Structural engineers can then review the integrity of a bridge in mixed reality using HoloLens, making recommendations for repairs or other preventative measures.

Dr. Ioannis Brilakis, Laing O’Rourke Lecturer, Director of Construction IT Laboratory at the University of Cambridge said: “The construction sector is undergoing rapid transformation as a result of the revolution in digital engineering.

“It has a wide portfolio of research projects which aim to solve problems in the construction sector.

“This exciting relationship with Trimble will enable us to work together to push forward our agenda to develop new, transformative tools and technologies to deliver a much safer and more productive construction industry and help build the infrastructure on which the well-being of society depends.”

Aviad Almagor, Director, Mixed Reality Program at Trimble said: “Cambridge University is a world-renowned educational institution, and it’s been a fascinating experience to partner with the university and Microsoft, using HoloLens to envision the future of the industry.

“This initiative has helped us to inform the next frontier of technology within the sector – especially in areas such as construction, where IT has traditionally been underutilised.

“At Trimble, we’re excited about the potential mixed reality has to transform this industry, and partnering with Cambridge and Microsoft is just the beginning.” 

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