It’s strange to think that a lot of the general public still seem to classify augmented reality (AR) and the idea of layering something over the real world to increase your understanding under two categories. There are those who think it’s just for things like the seemingly endless apps for showcasing furniture in your house and then there are those who think such developments are new and that AR did not exist before Pokémon GO.
Seriously, you’d be astonished how many emails we get that say “AR is not just for videogames anymore”, or words to that effect.
Of course, neither of these viewpoints are correct. The applications for AR in all manner of fields are endless and one company operating out of Cambodia are looking to use it to make quite possibly the most dangerous job in the world safer. The company’s name is Golden West, a U.S. government funded non-profit and they’re using AR to help diffuse bombs.
Yes, you read that right.
Bomb disposal is naturally a pretty tricky and potentially highly deadly art, and while not every explosive device is one where every second counts, anything to help speed up the process is welcome. Because when it comes down to it, it’s a lot slower than you might think it is and there’s a lot of research involved to identify what kind of device it is before the actual act of stopping it begins.
“The way bomb disposal currently works is this: they call and you come. You take pictures and measure the ordnance, and then look it up on your tablet or phone to know what it is.” Explained Golden West Humanitarian Foundations’ Director of Applied Technology Allen Tan, to Southeast Asia Globe. “But with goggles, you can identify the bomb almost instantaneously and then you can see how it works in real time, and figure out how to best destroy it.”
Golden West have created a library of QR cards, each of which contains a virtual model of a particular format of an explosive device. Using a headset developed by DreamWorld, the DreamGlass AR headset which VRFocus reported on back in June, company can bring the model to life to show a replica of the device people are dealing with, are able to ‘explode’ it out into its constituent parts so people can see how it is put together and even explode it in a more traditional sense too.
Acting as both an educational tool and an on-the-job reference, the library of explosive devices is something that has taken a very long time to put together, but it far superior to the alternative.
“Imagine you’re a guy trying to fix a car – bomb defusal is similar. You need to understand how the machine works, and a set of pictures in a PDF is just not enough.” Says Tan. “Using this tech, you can see how the mortar works, you can zoom in on the fuses – you can zoom in on anything you want to see.”
While the technology is not there yet, in the future merely looking at at device in the goggles will be able to identify it in real time. VRFocus will bring you more news on the developments with Golden West and DreamWorld as soon as we hear more.