Augmented Reality in the Maritime Industry
During this industrial revolution, the maritime sector has begun to implement digital solutions. Big data analytics of ships, augmented and virtual reality, cloud technologies, machine learning and cognitive artificial intelligence are some relevant examples of the technologies now implemented by shipping companies.
AR has great potential to help in the maritime industry. In maintenance, remote assistance, diagnostics, work tasking, work checklists and for training purposes AR can be integrated. Any result obtained through AR equipment can be exported as a report in PDF or video. It has great potential to be of use in all operations.
In addition to the above, AR improves situational awareness, for example:
- On board ships the crew can easily recognize pipelines or wiring and specify what each one is for.
- Maintenance assistance for machinery with steps and tasks.
- Check-list control and inspections using smartglasses
- Officers can use it for daily tasks
- Video recording
- Video reporting with statistical analysis (shared in real time from ship to land)
- Remote assistance from the offices with IT and Technical Departments
- Training in advanced technology equipment using pre-recorded instructions
One of the biggest advantages of AR, is that the system allows all the information to appear on many screens in front of the user’s eyes. A common challenge that the shipping industry faces, is the familiarization of staff with new technologically advanced equipment, that is unknown to operators and to seafarers. There is a need for training for the use of this new equipment, especially the engineers. Deck and engine officers say that ‘equipment is changing all the time’. Shipping companies cannot control the supply of equipment available in the market and in addition, changing rules and regulations coming from the IMO are mandatory.
The shipping industry has a traditional, more conservative approach to the operation of ships. New technologies have always been regarded with skepticism, and training is more attractive to them when it follows a ‘hands on’ method of training.
However, AR technology can solve serious problems. The research showed that shipowners are looking to reduce the cost of training on new equipment from providers and manufacturers for shipboard operations. Engineers need to have a tool that enables training on new equipment, controls the maintenance and has remote assistance with the provider on land. This tool can be the EyeAssist Solution by Digimark. EyeAssist can guide them and deliver the training as the engineer looks at the equipment by adding the digital information, completing the checklist and any inspection. At the moment the are a few companies who are using similar solutions, but the demand for solutions like EyeAssist based on the research will be very high. As AR technology is becoming increasingly well-known, the need for such solutions will grow rapidly.
Eventually, the shipping providers will follow. They are currently undertaking research to invest in AR technology for maritime navigation systems. EyeAssist with features like mirroring, media sharing, web chat, audio-video recording etc. will be a great option for minimizing operational costs and remote assistance in the shipping industry.
In conclusion, AR can transform the shipping industry, and there are already a few obvious applications for it in training with the creation of real-world videos and modules. Applications, too, can be seen in maintenance by providing engine diagnostic information and remote support to engineers at sea, and in operations where AR technology can provide improved situational awareness and decision-making support.
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