Microsoft tackles bridge defects with HoloLens technology
Technology from Microsoft could soon allow engineers to check the safety of bridges that are thousands of miles away.
Engineers at the University of Cambridge have started early trials to see if construction inspectors could use Microsoft’s HoloLens to identify potentially dangerous cracks in bridges remotely.
Workers required at the location take pictures of the structure using digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, before uploading them to a cloud service, such as Microsoft Azure. Safety experts could then view those images, which have been stitched together, zoom in and out of the bridge, rotate and “walk” around it from anywhere in the world using HoloLens.
Microsoft’s technology would be cheaper and quicker than sending an inspector to visit the site, while being able to enhance certain parts of bridges could also result in more accurate conclusions. This could mean fewer large-scale repairs, keeping bridges open for longer, and cutting traffic delays and congestion.
The trials are part of a collaboration between the University of Cambridge’s Construction Information Technology (CIT) Laboratory and Trimble, a California-based company that provides technology for the construction, geospatial, agriculture and transportation industries. The Trimble Sponsorship Program, which provides funding and expertise, aims to create technology that will improve safety, reduce costs and increase efficiency across the construction industry.
HoloLens launched in the UK on October 12, 2016, with devices shipping from late November. To date, NASA has used HoloLens to recreate Mars in their offices, allowing scientists to virtually conduct operations on the Red Planet.
Meanwhile, Trimble launched a mixed-reality extension to SketchUp, and Thyssenkrupp Elevator is using HoloLens to help engineers.