Virtual reality has become a very real tool in the field of engineering.
The Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) HoloLens 2 is a device used for casting 3D design models into real space via holograms, which engineers can view and interact with using the AR/VR headset.
The HoloLens 2 also allows real-time video chat where people can see precisely what the headset-wearer sees. It has been proven to save both time and money during the design and inspection process and can collect real-time data for immediate use in the field or back home.
“We were able to do a proof of concept and see that it could work. We were able to teleconference from hundreds of miles apart, and they could see everything I was seeing and even draw on the walls, and I could see them pointing arrows and [writing],” Caleb Willard, Mechanical Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Walla Walla District, said.
Using this technology, one person can go out on inspections and have a whole team viewing and collaborating in real time with them. At the dams, the HoloLens 2 can help engineers verify designs.
“The device also has capabilities of photographing and recording video of the holograms, so that can be used too for site verification,” Willard said.
The Corps began using HoloLens technology after Dwayne Weston, Chief of Engineering and Construction for the Corps, went to the USACE Innovation Summit in 2019, where the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) introduced him to the HoloLens 1.
The Corps has since performed proof of concept tests at Lower Monumental and McNary dams, using the AR/VR headset to view 3D design castings of a compressed air system and a newly designed crane.
“The ultimate goal is that it keeps us from having costly and time-consuming design changes because of different site conditions. You can see it; you can almost touch it. You can really accelerate design times,” Willard said.