December 2016
Augmented reality: a potential tool for forest operations


FPInnovations' Precision Forestry team recently undertook an evaluation of the potential of using augmented reality in forestry operations. To better explain what augmented reality is, here is a short definition, translated from Wikipedia: "Augmented reality refers to the computer-based systems that make it possible to overlay a virtual 2D or 3D model, in real time, on our natural perception of reality."


Moreover, it is important to distinguish between augmented reality and virtual reality, which uses technological tools to reproduce a real or imaginary environment in order to immerse a person into a digitally created artificial work.


Thus, augmented reality is the obvious choice for maintaining a real perception of the environment and, more importantly, for safety reasons.


To identify the potential applications of this technology, FPInnovations began its research by expanding its knowledge of the technologies on the market. It purchased a Microsoft HoloLens, a technology that has been available on the market only since last April. This lens seamlessly blends high-definition holograms—our 3D digital content—into our immediate, real-world environment.


In the opinion of FPInnovations' researchers, this technology could possibly help forestry equipment operators better carry out their work. For example, it could display data about the forest or trees nearby, provide precise information on the location of equipment, prevent the operator from being subjected to safety risks (a steep slope, for example). FPInnovations believes that the technology also offers the potential to control equipment remotely and could be used in employee training and processing plants.


According to Augmented Reality, a non-profit organization established in California, augmented reality will become a dominant technology in the coming years, to the point that it will gradually replace smartphones and become part of our everyday lives. Therefore, it is important for FPInnovations to gain the necessary knowledge to ensure that its industrial members benefit from the advantages of this technology, which will undoubtedly become widespread within the next few years.


For more information, contact Martin Castonguay, Research Leader in the Precision Forestry group.


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