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Mixed reality can deliver project benefits: Athena Livesey

Mixed reality technology can improve project delivery by helping engineers to communicate more effectively and more quickly

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Athena Livesey is principal engineering geologist at WSP

We are reaching a point where delivery of major infrastructure across the globe is at risk as a result of the skills shortage. Mixed reality technology can provide a solution to tackle this global engineering challenge by efficiently connecting specialists from around the world, while giving emerging professionals the opportunity to work on a major project with the support of an international network of experts.

It is clear that there is a real momentum behind the spectrum of reality technologies, which are virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, and how we approach a construction project in just a few years’ time could be substantially different with their introduction. By 2020, major infrastructure construction projects will have fifth generation wireless hubs and our sta will be equipped with approved safety smart eyewear and hard hats that integrate the virtual reality models we designed with real time ground conditions to create a mixed reality.

The development of mixed reality technology will assist with the decision making. For example, if the project ground conditions are more complex than anticipated, and the designed virtual reality model does not project the right solution, a [junior] field geologist would be able to quickly connect with the senior designer in the next time zone via the wireless connection from their hard hat, and log into the instant messaging application using eye movements.

The geologist would then be able to share and discuss what they sees through their eyewear with the designer in real time, allowing them to see the issues that need resolving. The view could then be scanned using the tracking device and the camera within the eyewear, and together they will be able to develop the design approach and construction sequence in the model, and watch how the solution will be implemented while checking for clashes as the mixed reality 3D model is layered and rotated.

These decisions will be captured in real time, saving on double handling, avoiding potential delays. Ultimately through, the remote support provided, the emerging professional will feel empowered to take action while the senior designer will be able to support other projects.

By adopting mixed reality, significant value can be added. The “live model” will no longer be fragmented and construction changes and “as builts” will be effectively captured, stored and shared across the construction programme.

We can revolutionise civil engineering projects by referring to applications in other sectors which have started to unlock its potential. Our businesses and project bid strategies should consider investing in augmented technology and upskilling teams to make this vision become our everyday reality.

  • Athena Livesey is principal engineering geologist at WSP

This article was produced with association with

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