Seeing is believing

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One of the most frustrating aspects of any project is the inevitable hiccups and speedbumps that are encountered along the way.


That’s why a small team at Thames Water is looking to solve these problems, before they even become an issue.


‘Hololens’ - developed by a small team at MWH working on SMB Non-Infra projects as part of the eight2O alliance - creates and projects detailed holograms of proposed designs.

It means both engineers and operators can inspect the plans, in a real life-size environment, seeing it from different angles and vantage points.

Graham Funnell, design manager at MWH Treatment, said: “One of the main benefits of this technology is we can provide an immersive and collaborative platform for people to get involved in the projects design early on and give them confidence on how the project or plant will work in practice.

“It makes it more accessible to all and it makes everything that more realistic.”

If engineers or operators spot a problem with the design as they are inspecting the hologram, for example if a stairway would obstruct a key component of a machine, this can be then fed to the planners and the design altered.

The technology is so far only being used internally, but it’s thought it could be shown to members of the public and stakeholders in the future, either at public meetings or roadshows.

If virtual reality is next generation, then this is next, next, next generation.

Damon Webster, one of the experts who creates the holograms, said: “This is some really exciting technology, but not only that, it serves a really important purpose.

“It provides a level of detail that 2D plans just don’t, and almost everyone we have showed it to thinks it’s great, and incredibly beneficial. This is not just about creating cool gadgets and playing around, it needs to make a difference and add value not only to the process, but to the company as a whole, and this certainly does do that.”

The holograms can be created within days by the team, after they receive the 2D drawings or computer models and convert it into a hologram, and then shown to those who will need it.

It is helping to streamline the delivery process.

The program, which can incorporate timings to show how the development will look at during different stages, is also boosting collaborative working between different teams, as they can see how it will look and work once completed.