Augmented Reality Research Project

It’s like Pokemon Go, but better.

NBCC researcher Calvin Smith worked with New Brunswick companies to use mixed reality to bring smart-city technology into the province. Using the Microsoft HoloLens, Smith’s project was built around streamlining how a city inspects fire hydrants. Inspectors, while wearing the HoloLens, will be able to use GPS to find where the fire hydrants are located. When an inspector goes up to the hydrant, using image recognition, they will be able to detect the hydrant’s status and see historical data such as last year’s inspection.

“Basically right now what the city is doing is they have a bunch of Excel documents and there's a whole bunch of clerical work. There’s room for error and a lot of cost involved with that. By making it more streamlined we can reduce error and have less people working on the same problem,” Smith said.

What is mixed reality?

It all started with virtual reality. The headset is occluded so you can't see through it and you're blocked off. You're moving around in a virtual space and you can't see outside of it. Then came augmented reality; something you'd have with your phone or tablet. Pokemon Go is the perfect example of that. So you would pick up the camera, point it at something, and the phone does its best to guess where the 3D object are and what's going on in the room but it's not perfect.

Mixed reality is the future. The significant difference between it and augmented reality is that the headset has dozens of scanners inside of it that are actually building a 3D model of the room you're in.

“It takes the augmented reality that most of us have seen in commercials or in Pokemon Go and it pushes that beyond. For example it makes it so that the Pokemon could actually run along the table, jump off the end of a table and you can't see them beyond it so they can actually go behind object,” Smith said.

Why NBCC grads are prepared for this new technology

The Microsoft HoloLens uses C#, which is a coding language all NBCC computer science graduates learn how to use.

"So they're in a really unique position to actually be very skilled to work on this platform. So developing good relationships and setting up industry within New Brunswick that NBCC grads can work with is really important,” Smith said.