The Daqri Smart Helmet & the Next Industrial Revolution / by TI


An Interview with Gaia Dempsey, Daqri Inter­na­tional MD

At first glance it looks a lot like the hard-hats worn on construction sites the world over, but take a second look and you’ll see one of the most advanced industrial wearables ever designed. Created by Augmented Reality pioneers Daqri, it’s called the Daqri Smart Helmet and the company claim it represents ‘The Future of Work.’

It has all day battery-life, supports HD video recording, photography, 3D mapping, and alphanumeric capture. It has a 360º multi-array camera (2x in front 2x in back) and Daqri have created a custom-built operating system for it. They say that it ‘sets a new standard for professional-grade wearables.

It’s been designed spe­cific­ally for industry, so it won’t be cheap and it won’t be available to try on at your local elec­tron­ics store. Non­ethe­less, it may have a genuine shot at shaking up the future of work and changing the world.

How’s that for smart?

Listen in & read on to find out more…


Gaia Dempsey is the Managing Director of Daqri International and the Co-Founder of its parent company Daqri. We meet, on the final day of the Wearable Technology Show 2015. I am half expecting her to arrive with an assistant, but she’s alone and greets me with a warm smile and friendly handshake.

She’s personable and easy to like, with an intense aura and a questioning intellect. Once the interview begins, she chooses her words carefully, occasionally pausing for an extra half-second whilst considering the next thing she wants to say. What she does say, about Daqri and the future of AR in industry is fascinating.

Dempsey says that creating the Daqri Smart Helmet has presented the company with a tremendous number of challenges because the product incorporates such a huge number of software techniques and hardware capabilities.

It’s been the work of several years, during which time Daqri has pivoted, from working on commercial AR, towards meeting the high-stakes demands of the enterprise market. They are now pilot-testing with a select group of Fortune 500 companies, a process Dempsey says is due to conclude in June. The product is slated to ship shortly after.

We’re starting with high-mix; high-value scenarios, where there are high error rates and huge stakes on the line’ she says, ‘but this will eventually find its way we believe, into many different types of industrial settings.’

As a first-mover in an untapped market, Daqri are well positioned. With wearables now rapidly entering the consumer mainstream the company feel the time is right to introduce a radical new technology into the industrial workplace.

We have the chance to be the next Industrial Revolution, to be a part of that’ says Dempsey. ‘There’s the potential here to be at the start of an S-Curve, a new huge improvement in the way that work is done.’


The Smart Helmet uses two Snap­dragon processor chips and runs a custom version of Android. It can store data from both its cameras and sensors on removable flash cart­ridges and Daqri are promising a hands-free wearable HD display, readable in both low-light and bright ambient conditions.

The core of the product is its Intel­litrack.™ software, a computer vision cap­ab­il­ity that utilises Visual Inertial Nav­ig­a­tion combined with an indus­trial grade Visual Inertial Meas­ure­ment Unit (IMU). It measures changes in an objects spatial ori­ent­a­tion and can dynam­ic­ally map a sur­round­ing envir­on­ment. This cap­ab­il­ity, combined with a hands-free display, provides the wearer with con­tex­tual inform­a­tion that is overlaid directly onto the workspace.

Users can also access Enter­prise Resource Planning data, putting logistics, inventory and shipping inform­a­tion directly into their field of view. Dempsey says that companies will be able to create libraries of text, photo, audio and video to help in the com­ple­tion of tasks and in accessing technical and reference materials.

Placing inform­a­tion directly on top of the work envir­on­ment will help to locate specific parts and show workers what next actions need to be taken. The Smart Helmet will also allow for remote support and provide the ability to dynam­ic­ally view an engineers workplace from another location.

It has a huge number of sensors’ says Dempsey. ‘We talk about augmented reality most of the time as augmented vision, but the Smart Helmet gives you cap­ab­il­it­ies beyond. We call it Computer Enhanced Vision. Just by wearing the Smart Helmet, you can measure anything that you’re looking at.’

Using the output from a high-resolution infrared sensor, the Smart Helmet can create a depth map of its envir­on­ment. The visual nav­ig­a­tion system blends camera inform­a­tion and IMU data together to maintain an accurate under­stand­ing of both context and space.


To help in the creation of content for the Smart Helmet. Daqri have devised an authoring tool called Indus­trial 4D Studio. Dempsey says it will tie in seam­lessly to existing 3D CAD systems, allowing Mech­an­ical Designers and Engineers to create work packages in their existing CAD software. These work packages will pair with the Smart Helmet, creating be-spoke content for a par­tic­u­lar workplace or factory.

Dempsey says this process will greatly decrease errors, because ori­ent­a­tion and placement inform­a­tion can be presented in the most intuitive form possible, right on top of where the work is being done. Fur­ther­more, she says the system can be updated in real-time.

It step-by-step allows you to create workflows and to create processes that can be cus­tom­ised to the work that’s being done; the par­tic­u­lar piece of equipment that needs to be main­tained or operated upon’ she says.


Software that can track activity, monitor for error, and provide cus­tom­ised feedback will provide workers with much deeper assist­ance and oversight in the per­form­ance of critical oper­a­tions. Daqri also want to network the camera systems from multiple Smart Helmets in a future update and Dempsey reveals they have plans to go further.

In the next gen­er­a­tion, we’re going to be integ­rat­ing an internal sensor’ she says. ‘There’s also a lot of value in intern­ally sensing the human. We recently announced that we had acquired a neur­os­cience hardware company called Melon. They create an EEG headband that allows you to track stress and focus levels. The next gen­er­a­tion of the Melon headband is also going to be able to sense skin tem­per­at­ure and heart-rate. So, that increases your safety in a field-force work environment.’

Dempsey stresses this data offers important net gains for workers and employers. ‘It’s empower­ing the user to know their own levels of focus, pro­ductiv­ity, and stress, and have greater data and greater con­fid­ence in the work that they’re doing’ she says.

Giving early warnings for heart-attacks, stress, over­heat­ing or exhaus­tion whilst operating critical machinery, is a clear and bene­fi­cial use of the tech­no­logy. But, the personal and sensitive nature of biometric data storage will require that con­sid­er­able dis­cus­sion and debate happen before workplace adoption begins at a sig­ni­fic­ant scale.


If it can meet the chal­lenges of man­u­fac­tur­ing its complex product, Daqri has a device that can bring dramatic changes in indus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing. They are on the leading edge of a rapidly rising wave, with the potential to reshape the way that companies and employees work.

A factory-floor peopled with workers wearing Daqri’s Smart Helmet will be very different from one operating today. It will merge both physical and digital controls and bring about a radical shift in the nature of indus­trial workplace design.

Indus­trial robots operated by humans and software will allow for smart pro­duc­tion, inspec­tion and manip­u­la­tion. Workers will function dif­fer­ently, both indi­vidu­ally and col­lect­ively, because their skill-sets, edu­ca­tional back­grounds and working methods will be optimised to suit new types of pro­duc­tion facilities.

Dempsey is keenly aware of this and believes that indus­trial wearables and augmented reality will bring a wide range of benefits both to companies and directly to workers.

When you change the way that somebody works, when you give them a tool that empowers them to do their jobs better, to be more effective; to instantly access knowledge that they didn’t have before you transform that persons idea of them­selves’ she says.


The promise of indus­trial wearables like Daqri’s Smart Helmet is that they can reduce com­plex­ity and improve our ability, all without removing from us the essential gifts that make us human.

They are available to guide us, to sup­ple­ment us and even to enhance us. They can allow us to become more than we can be without them, they can give us ‘superpowers.’

They promise to increase our safety and our pro­ductiv­ity whilst allowing us to become the better people we often believe ourselves to be. They promise that we do not have to surrender our futures to the precise endeav­ours of our machines,but instead we can reclaim them, by allowing them onto our bodies and giving them access to our senses.

The Daqri Smart Helmet is a tool, one that points the way towards a re-imagined future. An artefact from our indus­trial past, re-created for the work of tomorrow. If we can reshape the future of work, we can also reshape ourselves and in doing so, we can change the future of our world.