Augmented Reality in the Real World


I talk about the real world and augmented reality. The real world is not the beautiful street where you can walk your AR robot, not the park where you find Pokemons but the real gritty world with poor phone and data reception, the problems of dirt, weather and so on. Where danger means loss of limb or life instead of tipping your latte.

Real World Problems

Most everyone knows that technology is made for “civilized” world where we have great 4G data, good infrastructure, cleanish streets and a café at every street corner. The western world is in most important ways a laboratory environment when it comes to such things as mobile data and voice, augmented reality and other such advanced things.

However, we live in a bubble we have trouble seeing out of. The real world is the rest 98% of the world that is in turmoil, at war, in humanitarian crisis, where weather and conditions alone can be lethal, the world covered in forests, ice, snow and sand. Where animal attacks, mishaps and violence are quick to maim and kill. This is the real world where technology too often fails, the real world where technology and the software powering it must be robust, hardened and rugged along with the rugged electronics. This is also why boutique and bespoke software is more expensive than your run of the mill software. These types of software solutions are extensively tested for faults, bugs and reliability. When your software is used by doctors or explorers thousands of miles in the jungle or warzone, in the desert or the arctic wastelands you do not get to do a quick patch to fix the problem. The software has to work and it has to work every time, no different than sending the Space-X rocket to orbit to send billion dollars worth of equipment into space. You get only one shot and failure may kill people.

Augmented Reality as a Guide

In previous blogs I’ve covered Boeing’s and other companies’ use of augmented reality as a training tool as well as quality assurance tool and a guide. Similarly, AR can be used in almost any situation as a guide. For example, when we look at a humanitarian crisis. In the developing world and crisis areas there are always civilians with knowledge and skills in some sort of medical aid and while doctors and nurses attending to the more acute trauma we could use AR-glasses with large databases of different non-invasive care guides. This could lead to crowdsourcing refugee camps so that already skilled people could be employed as carers to change bandages, do smaller care jobs and this way we can free up the skilled nurses and doctors to the more acute situations. Of course. I personally believe from experience that doing things and helping others will help the person doing things to cope with bad things better than just waiting on things. Naturally, your mileage may wary and above-mentioned example is far from perfect and does not account cultural problems into it.

While the cameras in AR-glasses are still far from perfect they can still be used to convey Point-of-View (POV) to another site and this can, again, help professionals do things they might not know how to do. The idea is taking the telepresence consulting idea and bringing it to medical procedure instead of just second opinion and consulting over the two-dimensional photographs and X-rays. In elevators and other technology there are cases where a telepresent specialist has been consulted and they’ve been able to draw on the mechanic’s field of view in augmented reality to help identify and fix problems.

We can bring this to doctors or specialist nurses. The AR-glasses allow specialists to see what the normal doctor is looking at almost in real-time (data streams, video, etc. are never real-time, but close). Also, if the doctor or specialist nurse is not all too familiar with the procedure the specialist can talk the AR-wearer through the procedure, just like in a teaching hospital. Naturally this requires steady and good and reliable internet service in the area through satellite or other such media.

There are other such things that can be done with AR, for example container hospitals and their setup might need only one engineer while the rest of the labor could be guided through the glasses.

Robust and Hardened Code

When dealing with lives and safety the quality of software is important as is the quality, ruggedness and robustness of the technology running it. This is why the physical systems will always need to be at least industrial if not military spec in order to be reliable. This means that the technology might not be the fanciest around but the most error-free and such that can be dropped from great heights, beaten, thrown, immersed in water for extended times and still keep going.

The software needs to match the physical part and this leads us to the bespoke and boutique software.

Many software houses speak of customized code where they take already existing code, software, and customize it to the customer. Versoteq of course does the same, however we also do bespoke software that matches up to the customer’s standards and needs. When lives are dependent on software’s quality the software has to be error free and if some bugs are found they must not cause crashes and have to be quickly mended. Software support has to be second to none and customer also has to own their bespoke software to allow them to have it customized or corrected even if the original creator was no longer operational. Versoteq is able to offer all of this to our customers as well as full AR and VR integration of software tools into the rugged computer systems.

Information Networks and Life in the Bush

In this case “bush” means the difficult situations found in the real world. Even in the industrialized, modern world networks can be spotty at times as everyone of has experienced situations where cellular network cuts you off, does not work as fast or as reliably as stated. Add to this the spotty satellite networks and difficult environment and you have a major problem. Add on top of this the medical operators’ need for consulting and data storage, retrieval, communications and so on and you have an ever-growing Gordian’s Knot of problems.

This is why we need to keep redundancies in mind when talking about data in the bush, all networks need to have redundancies, everything has to be backed up more than once and we’d suggest that even the software used in computers and other devices are also kept on site. Should there be a problem you can just swap a different drive in and go. Of course, network information packages need to be transferred more than the specs term needed, etc.

This all makes a difficult landscape of information but when automating data collating and forming a required picture of it Versoteq is second to none. Our software is, from the start, designed to work in distributed systems and through the internet, but also is quite able to return to work locally and go online once network is restored. All this without any problems when shifting between layers, no cuts or pauses in service. Because of the "distributed" use of local and cloud systems our software libraries and software are robust and use information networks sparingly and quickly with minimum losses making our software perfect for mission critical use.

Quality Assurance

Above-mentioned situations and specifications are such that they demand enormous amounts of work for quality assurance and here we strive to be the best in the world. We can provide fixes to our products quickly and efficiently. However, if the product is truly mission critical we can and have dispatched our engineers to the site to make sure everything is in working order.

While software’s ability to recover from error situations is always crucial it is even more important when dealing with software and devices that cannot be accessed by the IT helpdesk to help during the problem situations. The software and devices have to be intuitive to use, easy to understand and recovery has to happen with just a push of a button or flick of a wrist if the automatic recovery does not work. Even still this recovery must take no time and must not affect any critical systems.

Therefore boutique and bespoke software is more expensive than the bulk software customized by large companies. Everything is carefully and meticulously designed and created to keep problems at minimum.