A couple of months ago, a TechEmergence podcast featured Augmate CEO Pete Wassell predicting that the first mainstream uses of Augmented Reality might be a bit more “blue collar” than “Buck Rogers.” And now, in addition to Augmate’s digital eyeware, a new “Smart Helmet” from Daqri is helping to put AR to work in the workplace, wherever that work site may be.
As featured by The Wall Street Journal, the Daqri helmet is essentially an Adroid powered, high-tech hard hat offering the wearer a transparent eye shield, lenses providing a heads-up, 4-D display, 360° camera display and sensors that both help with navigation and gather information about the user’s environment.
Although its initial focus was applying AR technology to media and consumer uses, after seeing significant demand from the industrial sector, Daqri has shifted its strategy for the Smart Helmet in that direction. By providing information such as visual cues, warehouse maps, potential safety hazards and more, Daqri says the Smart Helmet will allow users to work more efficiently and with a higher degree of safety.
Another convenience benefit, Daqri officials note, is the Smart Helmet eliminates the need for a handheld tablet or smartphone used in most industrial applications. In addition, use of cameras in the Smart Helmet allows companies to not only monitor their employees’ actions on the job, but to also gather data from an assortment of meters or documentation operations to ensure the job has been done right.
Needless to say, all this information requires a big investment in processing power. To meet the challenge, the Daqri Smart Helmet uses a pair of Qualcomm Snapdragon processing chips and also offers the ability to store camera and sensor data on flash drives. Depending on its real-world application, the Smart Helmet can also interface with smart watches and augmented reality to aid in adjusting settings in the helmet.
Though Daqri officials aren’t revealing the price of the Smart Helmet ahead of its release next month, the company notes the helmet’s technological capacity will put its initial retail cost more in line with a laptop computer built to military or heavy duty use specifications. Whatever the price, according to the company, the potential of the Daqri Smart Helmet to provide the information that will allow users to work smarter and safer, such as the ability to catch an assembly error in a multi-million dollar machine, will make it worth every penny.
While the application of augmented reality is still in its infancy and its future unlimited, the Daqri Smart Helmet shows that, no matter which direction the technology goes, augmented reality will be on the job.
Image and video credit: Daqri