A hard hat for AR industrialization

April 06, 2017 // By Julien Happich
A hard hat for AR industrialization
At the Paris edition of IoT world, a futuristic helmet was on exhibit at the Intel booth, laden with outward-facing optical sensors. The shiny see-through visor hinted at augmented reality (AR), although the wearer, Daqri's Territory Manager Kevin Coleman seemed to be looking around as if immersed in a virtual reality setup.

Coleman was sporting the Daqri smart helmet developer edition, an augmented reality solution specifically designed for industrial use cases, hence the whole integration into a hard hat, albeit a futuristic looking one. Daqri is a US startup founded in 2010 by CEO Brian Mullins with a vision to promote and expand the use of AR beyond smartphones. In its early days, Los Angeles-based Daqri was not a product company but mostly focused on application development.

"Brian wanted to unlock the usage model of AR in a way that could do much more than what was being done at the consumer level. His vision was to bring AR everywhere including the industry, hence the B2B products", told us Fabrice Etienne, Marketing Director for the company. "Around 2012 and 2013, we started working on the smart helmet" he added.

The smart AR helmet packs an impressive list of sensors and electronics. A front-facing Intel RealSense Camera LR200 (480x360 resolution at 60fps) provides real-time depth information in the 0.4 to 4m range. This is complemented by a wide-angle AR tracking camera (640x480 running at 100fps behind a 166° diagonal fisheye lens) and an RGB 1080p HD camera running a 30fps for taking snapshots or sharing a live video-feed of what the wearer sees.

A FLIR thermal camera can also be switched on to read either relative or absolute temperatures, in the -20° to 120°C range. The infrared thermal vision can be switched on and off, as a transparent overlay (but not at the same time as the regular contextual AR function). It allows workers to survey their environment at a glance, to take temperature measures for predictive maintenance (often parts heat up before they break or that could be a bad electrical connection that dissipates heat) or to identify high pressure leaks unseen by the naked eye but potentially dangerous to walk by.

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