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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Forward Thinking: Shipping will benefit from augmented reality

Mon 23 Oct 2017 by Martyn Wingrove

Forward Thinking: Shipping will benefit from augmented reality
Fleet managers can track ships around the world using AR devices

Augmented reality (AR) is poised to change the way the world interacts with technology and its impact on the shipping industry is going to be revolutionary, said Hanseaticsoft chief executive Alexander Buchmann.

Shipping is already embracing technology to optimise fleet management, automate processes and improve communication between crew on ships and staff ashore. So, Mr Buchmann believes that AR will be the next step on the digitalisation journey.

“AR will help companies accelerate and simplify processes, providing them with new tools to execute tasks faster and more intelligently,” he said. It should improve worker performance as it has in other industries, such as aviation where the use of an AR headset has improved performance by 34%.

“AR enhances our actual surroundings by adding holograms into our field of vision to interact with. AR makes it possible to merge the real and the digital world by creating a mixed reality,” said Mr Buchmann.

As the technology progresses, more possible applications will appear. For example, workers could view an entire ship plan in 3D on a table in front of them using AR devices.

“The possibility to interact with holograms, virtually highlight areas and walk around the 3D model of, for example an engine, and look at it from all angles will make it feel more natural instead of looking at a screen,” Mr Buchmann explained.

“It will also improve communication as interacting with remote users will become as natural as face-to-face communication. Using AR devices means screens and monitors could also become obsolete and employees could access cloud-based data wherever they are.”

Hanseaticsoft has been working with Microsoft HoloLens to make this a reality for the shipping industry. “We are already implementing ways to visualise data from our software using this device,” said Mr Buchmann.

“We are still two to five years away from AR being rolled out across the industry, but we believe AR has the potential to transform the shipping business.”

AR will be coming to ship bridges in the next three years to enhance navigational safety as a European project is looking to develop this technology for Arctic voyages.

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