At CSIRO's Data61 Immersive Environments Lab in Canberra, Dr Matt Adcock and his colleagues are recognised for their advanced capabilities in augmented reality and work with the latest technology – such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 mixed-reality headset – to create more natural ways for humans to interact with holograms.

Demonstration of Synergys smart building features through Hololens.

"The trend with headset technology is a wider field of view, so you can see more holographic information at once," says Adcock.

"One of the holy grails is to bring as much relevant information together in a coherent way. In the case of remote operation, you can have a 3D model of a robot in front of you and you can control your view of it by moving your head around, instead of having to think about how to use a joystick to control a camera."

"You can reach out our hand, grab the hologram with a pinch gesture in space, and move the end of the robot where you need it to be next. You're doing it very directly with your own hand – it's like using a miniature version of the robot and the types of gestures we use to interact with the physical world normally."

Training for remote operations

This will be critical for training future remote workers.

"Although we may have people who have never physically been on site, the technology could make it possible to interact more closely with these assets than ever before, even if they were on site – because on site they may have been using a joystick to move a machine.

Instead, we'll have a human-robot control loop that taps into a lot of our natural, physical ways of interacting. We’ve prototyped some of those things in the remote-ops area, including the use of haptics, which allows you to feel resistance from the robot."

As headset technology advances, HoloLens 2 and others now have hand-tracking to allow such direct manipulation and interaction.

Service-technology company Trimble has made HoloLens 2 part of a hardhat with its XR10 unit, which puts data into holographic form and overlays it within the physical job site, enabling construction workers to check digital models against reality, for example.

"It is in these kinds of industries where AR is likely to see broad early adoption. It enables you to see things that aren't easy to see and it can also be used to overlay real-time data from sensors".

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