Not Just in the Movies: How Augmented-Reality Technology is Pioneering the Future for Disaster Recovery


Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies may seem like science fiction, but one company is exploring ways to use these innovations to help communities and individuals to prevent and recover from natural disasters. EdgeSpace, a software company which designs real-time artificial intelligence, has pioneered the invention of the new Vuzix Blade Augmented Reality Glasses.

While virtual-reality technology immerses its user in a computer-generated simulation, augmented-reality adds to and enhances one’s surrounding environment. Rather than replacing the user’s field of vision with abstract and unrelated visuals, augmented-reality can add a technological dimension to real objects and images.[1] Therefore, it can be utilized in numerous professional and recreational contexts as an effective performance-enhancing tool.

While most augmented-reality devices are attention-grabbing and complicated to maneuver, Vuzix Glasses are deliberately deigned to look subtle and operate in a user-friendly manner. The glasses are intended for field-service maintenance, because they allow systems and equipment surveyors to live-stream information to their assistants and company members. By simply tapping the side of the glasses, users can pull up files and information, or take pictures and scans of what is in front of them. The glasses are also equipped with sensors that can monitor air composition to test for plumes or sulfur dioxide.



How do these features facilitate disaster recovery and other sustainability projects?


The challenge of coordinating field-service maintenance makes the Vuzix Glasses an excellent resource for much-needed infrastructure projects in hurricane-impacted communities like Houston, Texas or Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Live updates and analyses of affected schools and homes would greatly expedite general awareness of and response to infrastructure needs before and after the occurrence of natural disasters. If donor companies and relief organizations receive real-time updates of where communication, transportation, or water systems need repair, they can provide necessary aid at a faster and more effective rate.

The glasses’ ability to measure air composition is a convenient way for relief organizations and community members to avoid or attend to toxic areas. Lasting post-disaster health crises could be mitigated by the technology’s real-time delivery of such vital information to affected individuals and on-site rescue teams.

David Ayers, a key member of the technology’s development team, notes that “the glasses make scientific discovery and exploration possible for average individuals, not just engineers and technicians.” As the price of augmented-reality glasses comes down due to greater economies of scale, they are becoming more financially accessible to the general public than ever before. Newer versions of the glasses resemble regular everyday eyewear, so they look natural, and promote a culture of innovation and intellectual inquiry. Vuzix glasses are incredibly useful to scientists and infrastructure systems coordinators, yet they are also a convenient and meaningful way for citizens to remain conscientious of environmental conditions.

Though augmented reality glasses or iphone apps are not the final solution to disaster recovery and environmental preservation, they are a progressive step towards educating and protecting communities and strengthening the impact of relief efforts.

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[1] Emspak, Jesse. "What Is Augmented Reality?" LiveScience. May 31, 2018. Accessed July 26, 2018.



Eleanor Zelek