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HoloLens tested for bridge inspections

Cambridge University is investigating how augmented reality could help improve safety and lower the cost of inspecting large structures, such as bridges

The University of Cambridge and Trimble, a company that provides technology for the construction industry, have begun a project to investigate how Microsoft HoloLens could be used to inspect bridges.

Engineers at the university’s Construction Information Technology (CIT) Laboratory have started trialling the use of HoloLens to investigate whether construction inspectors could use it to spot potentially dangerous cracks in bridges without having to physically visit the site.

Digital cameras will be used to take pictures of a structure, which will then be uploaded to Microsoft’s Azure public cloud. The photographs will be stitched together to provide a detailed image of the bridge being inspected.

Safety experts can then use HoloLens to zoom in and out of the bridge, rotate and “walk” around it from anywhere in the world.

Dr Ioannis Brilakis, director of the CIT Laboratory at Cambridge University, said: “This exciting relationship with Trimble will enable us to work together to push forward our agenda to develop new, transformative tools and technologies to deliver a much safer and more productive construction industry and help build the infrastructure on which the wellbeing of society depends.”

Engineers at the university have also looked into whether HoloLens could be used to enable building companies to keep track of work while constructing homes and offices, and whether the device could assist manufacturers by cutting down on the need to refer to blueprints regularly.

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Aviad Almagor, director of Trimble’s mixed reality programme, said: “This initiative has helped us to inform the next frontier of technology within the sector – especially in areas such as construction, where IT has traditionally been under-utilised.

“At Trimble, we are excited about the potential mixed reality has to transform this industry, and partnering with Cambridge and Microsoft is just the beginning.”

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