5 Aug 2017

A headset to measure earthquake damage

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 5 August 2017
HoloLens view

HoloLens view Photo: (Microsoft Sweden CC BY 2.0)

After a big earthquake, the authorities need to quickly get into homes, offices and other buildings to see if they are safe to return to or need repairs.

But going into a potentially damaged building to perform this work is time-consuming and dangerous.

After the Kaikoura earthquake last November, Microsoft teamed up with a local tech company Datacom and a group of students to develop an app to do the job better.

And the key bit of hardware? HoloLens... a head-mounted computer that can overlay images onto your view of the world around you.

It's a field called mixed or augmented reality – not to be confused with the total immersion into an alternative world offered by virtual reality or VR.

This headset technology allows engineers to quickly get in and out of quake-damaged buildings, capturing all the information they need to assess their safety. 

Husain Al-Badry of Datacom and Chris Auld of Microsoft show us how the technology works.