Soluis has clear vision for immersive technology
The project: With more than 6 years’ experience of developing Augmented and Virtual Reality solutions, Glasgow firm Soluis has a clear vision for how immersive technologies can help transform the world of work.
As one of the Europe's leading digital creativity businesses, the company offers clients across Europe a diverse range of services including digital visualisation and animation, motion graphics, software development, virtual and augmented reality and immersive installations and hardware.
It has enjoyed considerable success thanks to its innovative deployment of skills in CGI visualisation and software development and works with blue chip clients such as Crossrail, Clyde Gateway and City of Glasgow College.
The challenge: Initially specialising in creating visual presentations and CGI for the design and construction markets, Soluis has latterly put a strong focus on using the core digital environments they generate as the basis for new augmented and virtual reality experiences on the latest headsets and hardware.
They have also developed their own, proprietary Immersive Reality Portal – a shared, human-scale solution that removes the need for users to wear headsets.
While the promise and potential of augmented reality have been much discussed, Soluis are very keen to create practical applications which could bring real benefit to industry.
The purpose: In 2015, Soluis entered and won a competition organised by Innovate UK, the government agency which works to “find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy”.
Aimed at encouraging innovation around AR/VR, the competition encompassed themes such as Smart Construction and Immersive Retail, pairing the winners in each discipline with a different partner.
Winning the prize gave Soluis the opportunity to develop and trial a product called ‘InSite’ with Crossrail, which is Europe’s largest construction project, and involves the construction of a new rail line for Central London, which is due to open in 2018.
InSite is designed to deliver functional augmented reality to the construction sector, the aim being to deliver improvements both in terms of business efficiency and staff safety.
The prototype of InSite deployed both Daqri’s SmartHelment and Microsoft’s HoloLens devices to enable engineers at Crossrail site to identify pre-fabricated objects, pull information down from a database about those objects (overlaid onto the users field of view), and to push information collected by the user back up to the database.
InSite crucially allows construction staff to work hands-free and heads-up, recording additional data and transmitting it back to the cloud for storage in real time, and with full awareness of their surroundings.
This kind of approach could also lead to training being conducted off site, avoiding possible risks and expense which could come from working in extreme or unpredictable environments.
The people: Led by founder and chairman Martin McDonnell, Soluis has enjoyed rapid growth and diversification since the mid-2000s and now employs more than 50 people across two studios in Glasgow and London.
The outcomes: Since winning the Innovate UK funding, Soluis has continued to work with Crossrail to further refine the technology. The prototype was very well received by the on-site teams, who all reported their confidence that this kind of innovation would be crucial to the construction sites of the future.
Further development of the core InSite idea will also likely lead to it being trialed on other large infrastructure projects in the UK and further afield, and help anchor Soluis’s development of new AR training tools across numerous other sectors.
The impact: Soluis successfully delivered a prototype for InSite in November 2016. The delivery has confirmed Martin McDonnell’s belief that “InSite’s heads-up, hands-free solution really has the potential to fundamentally improve the commissioning, sign-off and handover phases of complex construction projects.”
This case study was published in February 2017.
The above case study has been made possible through the generous support of Creative Clyde and the named contributors.