Decades of sci-fi movies have made it hard to imagine a future withoutaugmented reality. Yet besides the largely fizzled-out promise of Google Glass, little headway seems to have been made integrating digitally-enhanced vision into everyday life. That might be about to change, at least according to the folks over at Daqri, a Los Angeles-based “human-machine interface company.” Their recently-announced “Smart Helmet” is billed as the the “biggest makeover” the construction helmet has had in its history
Combining an Intel M7 chip, a RealSense camera, and numerous in-house innovations into a singular, wearable device, the Daqri Smart Helmet is designed specifically for industrial applications and promises to not only improve work site efficiency, but also safety.
“We really feel we have a shot to be the next industrial revolution,” said Gaia Dempsey, Cofounder and VP of marketing at Daqri, in a glossy promotional video on their website.
The Smart Helmet includes an array of cameras that enable 360-degree computer vision. High resolution depth sensors facilitate precise tracking and alignments. “What the Daqri Smart Helmet allows the worker to do is take work constructions and augment data or information right on top of the work environment,” said Andy Lowery, President of Daqri.
One of the most interesting developments is so-called “Intellitrack” technology, which processes the information received by the helmet’s inputs to rapidly “understand the context” of the user. According to promotional material, “The smart helmet knows how you move through a space and it can map the environment and start to create a 3D reconstruction of a facility.” When multiple workers are using the smart helmets, the information is shared and “you can build an entire model of a facility with that data.”
If the tech is as good as it seems, its implementation could have pretty profound ramifications for both construction and building maintenance, lending the wearer a kind of x-ray view of all the information embedded in a site. I reached out to the company to discuss the possible architectural implications of the Smart Helmet, and spoke with Andy Lowery, Daqri's President.
Sounds exciting. Can you elaborate?
An area that a lot of research is beginning to be conducted is incorporation of Building Information Modeling (BIM) into the helmet. With the inclusion of BIM modeling the user can get an advanced view of various "as designe" features prior to those features being installed. From that, one can quickly ascertain differences between "as designed" and "as built", provide updates to those BIM models, evaluate potential equipment collision risks, visualize features to aid in placement of systems or 'keep out' areas (e.g. avoiding rebar while drilling concrete).
Real time inspection via the Daqri Smart Helmet's array of depth, thermal and high definition cameras becomes an organic capability of each construction worker that wears the helmet. Real time expert guidance to assist less experienced tradesmen can be done simply through our telestration enabled Remote Expert application.
These are just a few of the possible ways that experts are predicting the Daqri Smart Helmet will revolutionize the construction worksite. Both independent and Daqri conducted studies have consistently shown that productivity gains of 30-40 percent can be achieved across the board when incorporating on body mobile sensors paired with robust wearable visualization technology that incorporates augmented reality enabled applications.
Could you tell me a bit about Intellitrack technology and its spatial implications?
Intellitrack is a category of software that Daqri has created which uses Daqri Smart Helmet sensors to create useful data that from there enables a multitude of other applications. Within that software, two advanced algorithmic software libraries enable a user to be both spatially aware of their relative pose position across a large geographic area and second, deliver a real time three dimensional map of the user's surroundings. Daqri uses monocular visual inertial navigation to provide a constant track of pose position of the user.
What this does is combine low drift inertial measurement unit data with camera movement data obtained from a dedicated low power monocular camera system, so that highly accurate relative position can be maintained in three dimensional space. This software does not require wifi beacons, GPS or anything external to the helmet to aid in this positioning. Coupled with this, the Daqri Smart Helmet has two Intel RealSense depth mapping camera systems on the front and back of the helmet that can be used in conjunction with other helmet wearers to construct a real time 3D map of the construction site. The set of information can then be combined to understand your built environment, in real time, as the building or plant is being constructed.
Has Daqri directly worked at all with any architectural practices and/or engineering firms?
Yes. Daqri has quite a few direct architectural, engineering and construction customers and partners. One of the more recent ones in the press that we have started a strategic partnership with is advanced surveying and construction technology company TopCon.
Daqri has a number of other industry, education and trade relationships that we have worked hard in forwarding the consolidation of these groups for the enablement of the productivity and safety gains that can be achieved through incorporation of wearable human machine interfaces like the Daqri Smart Helmet. Through this cooperation we believe that the world will begin to see the Daqri Smart Helmet deployed with onsite construction applications later this year.