The terms "augmented reality" and "virtual reality" have long been rooted in the gaming world, but now a Los Angeles-based company called DAQRI (pronounced like the drink) that specializes in both is finding practical applications for them in the workplace.
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The company's flagship Smart Helmet is a combination safety helmet and goggles that also provides the wearer with virtual instructions, safety information and mapping. Workers in the oil and gas, automation and manufacturing sectors — in other words, industrial workers who have to understand details about complex processes and retain that information for long periods of time — can look through the lens of the Smart Helmet and see additional information displayed on its safety screen relating to whatever task they are involved with.
"The real moment for me was seeing the iPhone 4 get released in 2010. All of a sudden, you could have a multicore processor in your pocket. ... That’s when I dropped everything and started DAQRI." -Brian Mullins, founder and CEO
The helmets weigh no more than a typical hardhat but come with their own battery and docking station. The device — which sells for anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 each, depending on the features — is now being tested by Autodesk, GE, Topcon, Hyperloop, and KSP Steel.
Tarsadia Investments has put up the bulk of the $17 million in venture money the company has to date. CEO and founder Brian Mullins, who holds a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, where he studied electrical and mechanical engineering, claims companies using augmented reality work instructions have improved the speed of maintenance and inspection tasks by 46 percent and have significantly reduced accidents in the field.