Augmented reality could change the future of vessel design

10 December 2013

An augmented reality application for smartphones and tablets that can spot hidden features and create new ones on the hulls of vessels could transform the way engineers and naval architects create tomorrow’s ships.

Augmented reality (AR) uses sensors to show the virtual content of a vessel drawn over the actual camera image of it and can then add layers of information such as photographs, videos and sounds.

The aim of the MARIN (Mobile Augmented Reality Tool for Marine Industry) project, headed by Finland’s University of Turku with partners including Lloyd's Register, Nokia and STX Finland Oy, is to streamline the vessel design and repair process and dispense with some of the unwieldy paperwork surveyors, builders and engineers daily face.

“If, for instance, a hole needs to be made in a ship’s hull for inserting specific tubes and wires the request can be made using mobile AR equipment,” said Seppo Helle, Systems Specialist at the University of Turku.

AR could be an invaluable tool for class societies like Lloyd’s Register too. LR’s Chris Ridgewell said: “When a Lloyd’s Register surveyor inspects or surveys large industrial assets such as ships, the accurate transfer of information is a large part of the work as it needs to be shared with other surveyors in the site team and such parties as the shipyard and flag administration.

“Doing this digitally instead of manually is the answer as it’s pretty uncomfortable having to lug a lot of paper documents around a shipyard or a vessel, and at the same time trying to protect them from the rain, dust or dirt.”

The MARIN (Mobile Augmented Reality Tool for Marine Industry) team is currently building a prototype which will be trialled and tested before a complete system is launched.

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