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Shipyard workers don smart glasses in 5G testbed

Shipyard workers at Singapore’s Keppel Offshore and Marine can view work instructions on their smart glasses, pull out real-time data about their equipment and receive remote guidance in a range of operational tasks

Workers at Singapore’s Keppel Offshore and Marine (Keppel O&M) have been donning smart glasses in a pilot project to test the capabilities of 5G in a shipyard setting.

The project, funded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) 5G innovation programme, involves the use of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) glasses connected to M1’s 5G network to conduct site inspections, monitor and troubleshoot equipment and conduct virtual walkthroughs of vessels.

Equipped with a camera, microphone, speaker and cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity, the smart glasses can perform real-time analyses and provide data to the wearer. It also enables wearers to communicate with a receiver or control room and view a digital overlay of text and images via a micro projector.

For example, when conducting site inspections, workers are able to view work instructions that can be controlled through voice-commands. This replaces labour-intensive manual check sheets and drawings. Remote expertise and coaching can also be provided via the platform, reducing the manhours required for on-site quality inspection by as much as 50%.

At the same time, field engineers can view sensor data on an equipment’s real-time performance and condition when they are monitoring or troubleshooting equipment. They can also stream the data to their main office to receive remote guidance, improving their efficiency by 40%.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic when safe management measures limited physical inspections and site surveys, we were the first to officially conduct remote inspections for a newbuild vessel with a classification society using smart glasses,” said Chris Ong, CEO of Keppel O&M.

“Today, we are further expanding its use to not only improve the efficiency of delivering projects and enhancing yard operations but also widening our capabilities to provide digital solutions for our customers’ assets,” he added.

Manjot Singh Mann, CEO of M1, noted that the use of smart glasses can help solve critical challenges in Singapore’s maritime industry.

“Through M1’s robust 5G network, smart glasses can provide high-bandwidth immersive AR/VR environment that enables highly detailed representations and real-time information to be relayed to users and control centres,” he said, adding that the pilot project could be scaled and replicated to boost operational efficiency and safety across businesses and industries.

Besides the Keppel O&M project, other 5G testbeds that have received IMDA funding include the use of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 to render 3D images and holographic projections in holomedicine applications such as procedure and surgical navigation at the National University Health System (NUHS).

NUHS has been active in driving holomedicine research in recent years. Last August, it kicked off a research programme to test the use of mixed reality headsets to help doctors identify the location of tumours during brain surgeries.

Under the first phase of the programme, a team of neurosurgeons from National University Hospital (NUH), which is part of NUHS, have started using holographic visors to project a 3D hologram of a patient’s brain scan into space and superimpose it onto the patient’s head during surgery.

Read more about 5G in APAC

  • The number of 5G connections in Asia-Pacific will grow to more than 400 million by 2025, but a usage gap due to the lack of digital skills and affordability will still exist.
  • India’s upcoming spectrum auction marks the start of larger scale deployments of 5G in the subcontinent, but telcos will need to find a way to address high infrastructure costs and monetise their investments.
  • 5G adoption in Australia is taking place in the industrial arena and other sectors, but telcos will need to transform themselves and overcome cost challenges to drive wider adoption.
  • Singapore’s public sector organisations are testing the use of 5G connectivity to remotely operate an autonomous vehicle for road-sweeping, among other use cases.

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