It might seem like something straight out of a sci fi movie, but augmented reality is real, and it has the potential to improve the process of responding to outages. Simply put, augmented reality allows field workers to receive real time information as easily as if they were watching TV.
Augmented Reality Versus Virtual Reality
It is important to understand the difference between augmented and virtual reality. The former presents a view of the real world overlaid with computer-generated video, audio, text, etc., which might originate from OMS, SCADA, CMS, GIS, or any other internal or even external system. The latter refers to immersion into a computer-generated simulation, often in connection with video games.
Obviously, power outages do not happen in a fantasy world, so virtual reality would not be particularly helpful for responding to outages! That said, virtual reality could be useful when it comes to emergency training, exercises and drills.
How Augmented Reality Can Enhance Emergency Restoration
The total number of use cases is only limited by one’s imagination. From a device standpoint, workers could wear eyeglasses, helmets, or some other type of wearable in order to receive the real time data. From a use case standpoint, here are just two examples:
- Damage assessors view a failed piece of equipment, and are instantly presented with information about it, such as model, service history, age, etc., allowing the worker to immediately diagnose the issue and order any parts necessary to get it back up and running as quickly as possible.
- A worker who is inexperienced could receive something akin to step-by-step instructions from a more experienced employee or manager for handling a specific situation. This use case could become especially relevant with the knowledge drain that comes from an increasingly aging and retirement-prone utility workforce.
While all of this sounds great, and the technology already exists, the use of augmented reality for outage restoration is still in its infancy. Duke Energy and a few other utility companies are exploring it, but the technology has not been broadly rolled out.
That said, I do believe it is only a matter of time before augmented reality for emergency restoration, training, and preparedness becomes, well, a reality!
For more detail about this exciting new technology, check out this ELP article.