Utility safety: 3D data ­ Virtual reality for electrical utilities

Safety products: Space-Time Insight -- In the utility sector, virtual reality has the promise of helping workers resolve issues faster and more safely with less expense.

Mar 11th, 2015
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Safety equipment: Situational intelligence solutions

Virtual reality is a computer generated, three-dimensional environment that people can interact with and explore. Because nearly any environment, factual or fantastic, can be generated, virtual reality offers many ways to change the nature of work.

In the utility sector, virtual reality has the promise of helping workers resolve issues faster and more safely with less expense.

In dangerous environments, such as hazardous waste disposal and sites rendered unstable by natural disasters, virtual reality provides unprecedented safe access to inspect conditions systems. By pairing virtual reality with robotics, remote operators can inspect and repair locations and equipment without jeopardizing workers.

With mobile assets, such as planes, trains, and ships, a virtual environment allows an operator or technician to virtually board the vehicle while it is moving, to diagnosis issues during operation.

A virtual walk-thru identifying a failure at an electric substation

One environment that can be modeled in virtual reality is an electrical substation. That model can display IT, operational, and external data related to the substation. When an operator receives notice of a malfunction at the substation, he or she could perform a virtual walk-thru of the substation using virtual reality. This allows easy, contextual inspection of the problem without the expense of rolling a service truck to the site just to identify the problem. Using a virtual walkthrough, operators can either identify how to remedy the malfunction without sending a crew, or fully diagnosis the problem so that crews can repair the malfunction with a single trip.

The Internet of Things & virtual reality for large volumes of data

This technology allows for the real-time analysis of the Internet of things. Mobile assets are just one class of the Internet of Things. An explosion of devices are becoming connected to the Internet and generating data: thermostats, appliances, lights and more. Having an immersive environment that replicates the physical one makes it easier to place all that data in a familiar context, making troubleshooting and issue resolution much more intuitive.

The advantages of virtual reality for large volumes of data include:

- More space for information: because virtual reality offers a 3D immersive experience, there’s practically unlimited space for exploring your data. Compare this with the desktop metaphor, where you get more space by either adding more monitors or opening additional windows and moving between them.

- A third dimension for information: because virtual reality is 3D, it offers an additional axis for data display and manipulation. In virtual reality, you can have a cube of data; on the desktop, you can have a table or spreadsheet. Many datasets are inherently three-dimensional. For instance, make, model, and year of cars in a fleet of vehicles.

- Context for data from the Internet of Things: An explosion of devices are becoming connected to the Internet and generating data: thermostats, appliances, cars and more. Having an immersive environment that replicates the physical one makes it easier to place all that data in a familiar context, making correlation and analysis much more intuitive.

- Expanded repertoire of commands and interactions: because virtual reality allows immersion in and movement through three dimensions, exploring data can draw on a wider range of commands and interactions. The 2D desktop allows actions like click, select, swipe and drag. Virtual reality adds actions such as grab, throw, lift, drop, push, pull and rotate.

About Space-Time Insight

Space-Time Insight transforms vast quantities of disparate information into intuitive visual displays that businesses can use to make informed real-time decisions. From traditional transmission, communications and transportation networks to Smart Grids and Cities, our next-generation situational intelligence solution is making critical infrastructure smarter, safer and more reliable. With Space-Time Insight, enterprises can visualize and analyze their resources across location and time, rapidly respond to disruptions in service, and lower risk while increasing customer satisfaction and profitability. Major organizations around the world rely on our high performance software to gain actionable insights into their businesses and make real-time operational decisions. Space-Time Insight’s partners include Accenture, EMC, Esri, Google, IBM, OSIsoft, SAP and UST Global. Space-Time Insight is privately held and based in San Mateo, Calif.

For more information about Space-Time Insight or other products, click here to go to Utility Products’ Buyers Guide.

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