philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


LA taps augmented reality for specialized repairs

ARrepairsAs workers in Los Angeles with specialized knowledge retire, the city is using augmented reality to transfer knowledge to younger employees.

Goggles from AR firm Daqri have reduced the time it takes to train someone to repair the $350 headsets firefighters use to communicate from 90 minutes to 30, and sometimes a few as five. That’s because in addition to seeing actual reality, trainees wearing the goggles can view additional information, such as notes on how to do the repairs.

Before LA adopted the AR goggles, its 105 fire stations spread across the city’s 469 square miles had to send broken headsets to the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center, where just one worker, who was getting ready to retire, knew how to fix them.

Joyce Edson, LA’s deputy CIO within the city’s Information Technology Agency, was looking for a way to apply AR and saw an opportunity with the headset repairs. An unpaid intern with interest in AR worked with ITA Applications Programmer Jeremy Stout for about eight weeks setting up 3D models of the firefighters' headsets. Using open source software from Unity and two AR helmets that Daqri donated to the city to use for research and development (the goggles came later), the city had a solution to test at a very low cost.

As workers repair the headsets, the goggles give them access to reference materials in the upper corner of their view. “They can also ask for the guy who really knows how to do this [repair] to sign in," Edson said. "He can see what they see, and he can annotate in their field of vision what it is that they’re missing, and then they can go off and fix it. … It’s been a really good training tool.”

The biggest savings is in the time, Edson said..

With nearly 40 percent of LA city workers eligible to retire in the next year, Edson hopes the program will help attract new talent to LA,

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