Augmented reality already a reality for utilities

PEL720 Augmented reality already a reality for utilities

In February 2017 the Economist magazine ran an article entitled The promise of augmented reality, saying:

“If companies ranging from giants like Microsoft and Google to newcomers like Magic Leap and Meta have their way, the next thing to leap from fiction to fact will be augmented reality (AR).”

The Economist is a bit behind the times on this one. The fact is, AR – the addition of contextually relevant information to real-world images – has already made that leap and the technology is being productively applied in many industries, particularly the utilities industry.

A couple of months earlier, in an article entitled Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Help Build the Utility Workforce of the Future, Greentech Media reported: “Other industries have found a 15 to 20 percent increase in efficiency with augmented reality,” and asked, “Can we transfer that to utilities?”

The answer to that is certainly yes and it does not take much digging to discover this.In February 2016, Forbes magazine reported: “Utilities are among the first group of businesses that are trying to figure out how to make use of [AR] technology.”

It went on to say that the Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit focused on and funded by the electric utility industry, had begun a large-scale experiment with some of the biggest utilities around the world to see how AR could fit into the industry's workforce.

“Participants include big utility players Duke Energy, Consolidated Edison, UK-based EDF Energy and Korea Electric Power Corporation,” Forbes said.

“EPRI expects the study should last around 18 months and the outcome will be a series of papers and recommendations around the technology.”

Back in January 2015, the Augmented Reality for Enterprises Alliance reported: “Contrary to what some may expect, utilities are rapidly embracing new technologies [such as AR].”

It referred readers to“a feature on mobile augmented reality in the November/December 2014 issue of Electricity Today where “electricity transmission and distribution managers are introduced to the concepts of enterprise AR on mobile platforms and the use cases for it in their industry.”

Market research firm ABI Research is tipping AR to be a $US100 billion industry by2020.  It notes that this is a huge development compared to virtual reality, which has very much caught the popular imagination thanks to the involvement of industry giants like, Google, Sony, Microsoft and Facebook.

And if you need further confirmation that AR is already having a significant impact on the utility industry, look no further than our earlier posts.

In November 2014 in See buried infrastructure, with augmented reality we anticipated the application of AR to underground utility location, asking “Can you imagine being able to look down to the ground at your feet and 'see' every bit of buried infrastructure, see whether it's a power cable, gas pipe or a sewer, and how deep it is?”

Just a few months later, in April 2015 in Augmented reality meets underground asset location we reported that augmented reality was becoming a reality, describing how Augview, an app for Android and iOS tablets and smartphones, superimposed images of underground assets on the image of a streetscape captured by the device's camera.

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