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19 November 2018

A pioneering new training aid using mixed reality and holographic computing technology has been introduced by global certification expert Bureau Veritas to enable trainees to experience inspecting large or difficult to access industrial equipment.

Created in partnership with technology experts SmartDS, the SDS Mixed Reality Platform is a holographic training solution designed to support inspector training on pressure systems using Microsoft’s HoloLens MR technology via a head-mounted display unit.

The approach works by blending 3D holograms within a real-world environment through the display unit, to allow the user to physically explore computer generated 3D models that are placed in their immediate surroundings. The user can interact with the placed objects – in this case a steam tube boiler system – using hand gestures, voice control or button inputs. Users can also move into the hologram, remove the casing and switch numerous common and rare defects on and off. Crucially, this allows the trainee to have the experience of inspecting large or difficult to access equipment at minimal risk and without potentially disrupting production on-site.

Bureau Veritas partnered with SmartDS on the research and development collaboration, in a bid to integrate advanced technologies within existing training techniques. In order to create a tailored solution for Bureau Veritas’ needs, SmartDS created a bespoke platform – the SDS Mixed Reality Platform – which utilises Microsoft’s HoloLens technology with Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions for use in blended training environments, allowing it to be integrated within Bureau Veritas’ existing software.

To-date, the team has estimated that this approach can reduce overall training time in this specialism from six days on site to just one day on site and one day using the SDS Mixed Reality Platform.

Rachel Rawlings, Accreditation Manager at Bureau Veritas explains: “We reached out to SmartDS to explore the applicability of Mixed Reality and holographic technology to enhance our inspector training programme in the pressure specialist discipline. Typically, trainees would be required to inspect large assets such as industrial boilers in order to complete their training; however it can be difficult to arrange access, as it requires shutting down the asset for a period of time, which can lead to costly downtime on site. Often it can also be difficult to physically gain access to the asset due to its size and location, as well as it being potentially dangerous. A real-life asset may be in good working order too, so often the trainer will have to point out potential defects without the trainee actually being able to see them. These factors often hinder the training process, whereas the holographic asset based approach cuts out all the inconvenience and means the trainee can get ‘hands on’ as it were and have visibility off a myriad of potential defects conveniently, efficiently and safely.

“Already we are seeing the distinct advantages of this approach and the possibilities for adopting MR and holographic technology are endless. It’s an industry game-changer and we’re really excited to see how the roll-out of this technology evolves moving forward.”

Simon Willcock, Technology Director at SmartDS, added: “As experts in this field of technology, having worked with the HoloLens system since its launch in November 2016, we have been at the forefront of developing tangible, tailored solutions for our partners to make best use of holographic computing and MR applications within their field. Straight away, we could see the link between this technology and inspector training – as well as the broader possibilities for the TIC industry as a whole – and the feedback and results we have seen so far speaks volumes about the current and future benefits of the HoloLens approach.” 

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