Smart glasses, 3D holograms among new 5G innovations being tested: IMDA

Structural Manager Muhammad Isa Bin Sanusi wearing his 5G Augmented and Virtual Reality Smart Glasses at the Keppel shipyard. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - Engineers at Keppel Offshore & Marine's shipyards can now receive key information about the machinery they are using - its performance in real time, for instance - via 5G augmented reality (AR) enabled smart glasses.

This innovation, which is being trialled at the shipyards, aims to increase efficiency in maritime operations and address disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is part of the first batch of new 5G projects under the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) 5G Innovation Programme that were announced by the agency on Wednesday (Aug 3).

The programme seeks to accelerate the adoption and commercialisation of 5G solutions in Singapore.

The other new projects are an initiative involving the use of holographic displays and images to support healthcare services - known as holomedicine - at the National University Hospital (NUH), and the development of an outdoor cinematic-quality AR experience at the Marina Bay area.

The three projects are the first to receive funding from a $30 million government grant announced in January last year.

Five other initiatives have received a grant from a previous $40 million sum set up in 2019 to accelerate the development of 5G applications.

These earlier projects, which are still ongoing, include the use of automated guided vehicles and rubber-tyred gantry cranes for moving cargo at Pasir Panjang Terminal.

5G networks are said to be 10 times faster than 4G, allowing a high-definition movie to be downloaded in seconds instead of minutes.

They also have more bandwidth, enabling about 1,000 more devices to be connected without any transmission lag, compared with 4G.

This makes the technology potentially useful in many situations. An example would be the surveillance robots and camera technology that were deployed in August last year to assist with security at Marina at Keppel Bay.

The project at Keppel's shipyards involves using sensors on equipment and machinery to transmit real-time data to the smart glasses.

An engineer can use the smart glasses to capture and stream real-time data to the command centre at Keppel's headquarters. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

A field engineer can use the smart glasses to view key information about a crane that his team is operating - for example, the weight of the load it is lifting and its maintenance condition.

This would reduce the frequency of periodic maintenance checks, said Mr Liew Wing Leong, senior programme lead for yard transformation at Keppel Offshore & Marine.

"We are looking at an overall reduction of 15 per cent for maintenance times," he added.

An engineer can also use the smart glasses to capture and stream real-time data to the command centre at Keppel's headquarters, where a team can help to rectify any issues that occur during the operation.

Other uses for the smart glasses include displaying checklists of tasks for inspection personnel, so that they need not carry documents containing those lists with them.

Mr Liew said Keppel is looking to roll out the smart glasses for all its shipyards' operations by the third quarter of next year.

Keppel O&M’s Smart Glasses leverages Augmented and Virtual Reality to increase productivity and safety in operations. PHOTO: KEPPEL CORPORATION LIMITED

The holomedicine project at NUH will enable the use of realistic 3D holograms for various medical operations, including helping surgeons to plan operations.

Among other things, it will also enable holographic scanned images or guides converted from CT or MRI scans to be overlaid on a patient, providing real-time guidance for surgeons during an operation.

Dr Gao Yujia, assistant group chief technology officer at the National University Health System, which operates NUH, said: "5G gives us the assurance that we will have speeds that are enough for us to support existing and future use cases."

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