• This is a screenshot of a Fieldbit AR view of a water treatment plant. The user can see equipment identification and telemetry tagged directly to individual machines. [credit: Fieldbit ]

Veolia Water Technologies, a transnational water treatment specialist firm, is partnering with a company called Fieldbit to bring Augmented Reality to the plant floor. Don't feel bad if your first reaction to that statement is "huh?"—ours was, too. If you've ever had to work on unfamiliar or semi-familiar physical equipment, though, it gets pretty interesting.
We spoke to Robert Kodweis, Fieldbit's VP of operations, to get a better picture of what the company really does. Fieldbit is a software company, and its apps are relatively hardware-agnostic. Users can experience AR (Augmented Reality) marked-up views of equipment and spaces through smartglasses such as Realwear's HMT-1, or by using an Android smartphone app to mark up video from the phone's camera in real time—something like Pokémon Go for the industrial floor.

  • In this shot, a lineman wearing the HMT-1 AR headgear has both hands free for climbing. [credit: Realwear ]

We pressed Kodweis pretty hard on the apparent AI aspects of the application. Since the press photos we saw mostly seemed to focus on tagging particular equipment with its own telemetry via AR, we wanted to know how the system was trained to reliably recognize individual machines without seeing identification plates and serial numbers. Kodweis explained that while this spatial computing is indeed possible, it's not the big focus of Fieldbit's collaboration with Veolia.

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