Augmented reality finding its way into maritime

Augmented reality (AR) is the up and coming technology for the maritime sector with solutions providers and shipyards leading its uptake into the industry.

Blue Ocean Solutions, a subsidiary of Singapore’s Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M), is helping to refine the use of AR at Keppel shipyards that are involved in the servicing and maintenance of oil rigs.

“AR is not being fully exploited at the moment in maritime but it is an emerging technology,” said Blue Ocean Solutions CEO Dr Jerry Ng.

“You put on the goggles and you can have immediate access to experts, augmented over the reality,” Dr Ng told an audience at the Asian Marine Engineering Conference held in Singapore on Wednesday.

Caterpillar Marine Asset Intelligence fleet advisor Michael Tan said on the sidelines of the conference that the Caterpillar group is furthering its developments of AR across its different business verticals including maritime.

“Our AR technology is now available in the marketing and solutions aspects,” Mr Tan said. He explained that the technology allows users to have live support in conducting repairs and maintenance on equipment via an interactive interface. Marketing brochures of Caterpillar can also come to live by wearing the goggles to enhance understanding of its products.

One recent development of AR in maritime is an EU-funded 6.5M (US$7.6M) project that started in June this year to develop and test AR bridge systems to improve navigation safety and efficiency in Arctic ship operations.

Meanwhile Dr Ng shared that another emerging technology for maritime is expert system and predictive intelligence. The expert system and predictive intelligence seek to raise alerts on likely problems and offer diagnosis and preventive measures that can be carried out. This technology is not widely applied in maritime but it is a “very powerful tool” and especially helpful for engineers, according to Dr Ng.

“My personal belief is that intelligence ships will come before autonomous ships. These technologies are not new to the market, it is a matter of application and adapting these technologies into the maritime industry,” he said.

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