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Augmented Reality to save industrial plant workers from electrocution

UNSW Sydney’s Maker Games hailed an augmented reality system as this year’s winner. On its third year, the Maker Games encourages UNSW students from multiple faculties to come together and design prototypes that solve real-world problems as set by industry partners.

As reported, the augmented reality system is designed to eliminate the chances of workers being electrocuted while using industrial machinery by enabling workers to safely shut down dangerous machinery in industrial plants.

The judges were impresses after the winning team responded to a challenge from a construction materials manufacturer to come up with a way to prevent workers from being accidentally electrocuted after incorrectly isolating or turning off heavy machinery in its manufacturing plants.

The cost of making a simple mistake while trying to isolate a machine can be fatal.

An average of 27 workers dies each year from electrocution, while more than 530 people are hospitalised with electrical injuries.

The Team safAR students responded to the problem by creating a system that uses augmented reality (AR) to provide step-by-step instructions to workers on how to safely isolate machinery.

How it will work

A worker wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset loaded with the safAR software simply needs to look at the machine in question, to be offered AR video prompts that direct them to safely shut it down.

The system uses machine learning to recognise the machine. And then, augmented reality provides a visual reminder or alerts if the machine is on.

The software uses AR object recognition and speech recognition.

It is an easy-to-use tool that any construction worker can look at the machinery and instantly get feedback on what they should do in the field.

It uses some small safety glasses that give you a VR/AR kind of display. This allows workers to operate the software hands free while in the field.

Up until now, workers in industrial plants l have had to rely on long and complicated manuals to follow the correct procedure.

Risks of harm increase when people specialising in this knowledge are away from the workplace.

Fresh approach

Maker Games is a great opportunity for students to apply their learnings to the real world and a key component of UNSW’s strategy to provide ‘quality at scale’ engineering education.

It gets the students and industry partners together and gets some really interesting problems solved by people who are not constrained by pre-existing ideas.

More importantly, students learn by doing real-world projects, not ones that were created on campus.

As part of their prize, the winning students will soon be jetting off to Shanghai and Beijing in China to look at their top universities and see how they are innovating and learning about their entrepreneurs.

Other projects

Other prototypes presented by the Maker Games finalists were:

  1. An app-controlled system to protect the home against bushfires
  2. A mask that protects water utility workers in India from inhaling deadly hydrogen sulphide
  3. An app that simulates trading on the stock market as well as real life events affecting personal finances
  4. A virtual reality house inspection app
  5. An augmented reality remote inspection tool for fire engineers
  6. Drones and robots that can safely navigate wet and dry environments in water vessel tanks
  7. A robot that can calibrate and test optimum microphone positioning for audio hardware manufacturers
  8. Wearable clipboard/tablet device holder enabling nuclear plant workers to carry out inspections hands-free
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