Drones have become an increasingly common presence in American construction zones. These unmanned aerial vehicles have become helpful tools in site-mapping, maintenance checks, and other important facets of a construction site. Goldman Sachs recently estimated the construction industry would account for around $11 billion of the $100 billion market share from UAVs worldwide. Therefore, it’s no surprise that technology, not just in the drones, but the software and controls, is advancing at a rapid rate. At this year’s InterDrone Conference in Las Vegas, MarketScale had a front-row look at the new products tech-giant Epson had to offer and learned more about their mixed reality glasses that are helping drone pilots maneuver their machines in ways unattainable before.
Epson’s line of augmented reality glasses are some of the main attractions at this year’s show, but what makes them so impactful? Eric Mizufaka, the product manager of Epson’s new Moverio Glasses, helped break down what makes these next-gen smart glasses so innovative. Traditionally, drones and other UAVs are controlled by a remote, typically in the form of a phone or tablet, which allows a “pilot” to maneuver their aircraft from the palm of their hands. However, one of the biggest problems facing new and experienced drone pilots is the lack of awareness one can have in regards to a drone’s surroundings– when the majority of a pilot’s attention is focused on a screen. This is where the Moverio Glasses step in.
The glasses have found useful applications particularly in hard-to-reach areas, which improves the construction experience, according to Mr. Mizufaka. “A lot of times you’re operating drones in tight spaces, and in those situations, you don’t want to necessarily rely on a First Person View, which is delivered through the phone or tablet. You want to keep a line of sight with the drone, so you not only see what the drone sees, but you also don’t take your eyes off the drone itself. It’s an important feature that can really improve the safety in a lot of construction zones.”
In short, these AR glasses are turning a traditionally two pilot job into a one pilot job. Mr. Mizufaka and the rest of the Epson team, however, are still hard at work expanding the capabilities of these devices to assist the construction sector further. “We see the sky as a blank canvas, and we want to use our glasses to paint that sky digitally. So if you think of pre-flight visualization, where you put waypoints in the sky of a pre-programmed flight in a tight space, we see our long-term vision going that direction… because while we feel like the drones have become really advanced with respect to several different kinds of features, I feel like there’s still a lot of runway to improve for visualization.”