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Android hardhat augments reality for industrial workers

Sep 8, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,378 views

Daqri is prepping an Android-based augmented reality “Smart Helmet” that integrates 360-degree camera views, plus 3D depth and inertial movement sensors.

Google Glass

Eyewear computers like Google Glass may be the wave of the future, but in the meantime, their most compelling role is for applications where having free hands is a necessity more than a convenience. This goes for motorcycle riders, as in the Skully P1 helmet, as well as many industrial workers.


As related in this TechCrunch story from a month ago, Daqri started out focusing its augmented reality technology on the entertainment industry, but has now pivoted to focus first on blue collar workers. On Sept. 5, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Los Angeles-based Daqri will ship an Android-based Daqri Smart Helmet in October for just such a hands-free application.

Daqri Smart Helmet, three views
(click images to enlarge)

Daqri’s smart hardhat features a transparent safety visor with a Google Glass-like display and a range of sensors and cameras. Daqri’s 4D Studio authoring software can be used to develop augmented reality overlays for the device that can provide background information, navigation pointers, and training guides for industrial and field equipment. The Daqri Intellitrack technology in combination with cameras and depth sensors is said to enable precise placement of supplementary information so workers can quickly understand the workings of a particular device or identify problems.

Details of sensors and cameras
(click image to enlarge)

The Daqri Smart Helmet will cost in the “thousands of dollars,” and be available in vertical market versions targeting specific industries. The helmet runs a custom version of Android on “two Qualcomm Snapdragon processor chips,” according to the WSJ story, which does not clarify whether this is a single dual-core SoC or two separate Snapdragons. According to the Daqri website, the processors are built into a compute module that “packs more CPU and GPU power than has ever been built into a wearable computer,” so perhaps there really are two Snapdragons after all.

Augmented displays with Daqri Smart Helmet
(click images to enlarge)

The helmet is further equipped with 360° navigation cameras, a high-resolution depth sensor, and an industrial-grade inertial measurement unit. The latter forms the core of the Intellitrack “visual inertial navigation” system, which integrates object recognition, environment mapping, and “3D reconstruction of a facility,” according to Daqri. For example, you can compare 3D site models with the real thing in order to track project build rate and accuracy. Intellitrack also lets you inventory every tool in the workplace, says the company.

Intellitrack can maintain tracking in low lighting, and can track nonstandard shapes, says Daqri. Even if the majority of the helmet’s sensors are obscured or blocked, “tracking will continue to function,” claims the company.

The cameras provide HD video recording, as well as 3D mapping and alphanumeric capture. The latter feature can help verify that instruments such as gauges have been consulted, and that they are within normal operating range, says Daqri. The Industrial 4D Studio software can use this feature to integrate safety controls into workflows.

Daqri 4D Studio (left) and a smartwatch-related augmented display
(click images to enlarge)

It’s unclear how users interface with the system — there’s no mention of voice controls, for example. The company does say, however, that the system can be integrated into a customer’s existing software. It will offer some controls via unnamed smartwatches, presumably of the Android Wear variety. The video farther below shows how the Daqri visor’s display overlays labels that identify information provided by different smartwatch screens.

The Daqri Smart Helmet provides “shift-long” battery life, says Daqri. Presumably, it also offers WiFi integration, at the very least, although there is no mention of wireless capabilities.

Daqri will provide an SDK for building apps for the helmet, and will also host a Daqri Industrial App Marketplace. The SDK enables the creation of companion Android apps for smartphones and tablets, as well as the porting of existing Android apps to the platform.

Daqri Smart Helmet in action

Further information

The Daqri Smart Helmet will ship in October at prices ranging in the thousands of dollars. More information may be found at the Daqri Smart Helmet product page, as well as at the main Daqri website.

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