Is Pokémon Go still a thing? It’s been a while since I’ve seen kids (and sometimes adults) running down little cartoon characters with their smartphones. In case you don’t know, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game. The app is downloaded to a phone and the app uses your phone’s camera to hunt for the fictional characters that are hiding in the real world.
I’ve never played the game, but I am impressed with the technology of AR, as I am with virtual reality (VR), and now I’m learning of a new tech called “virtual radar.”
The University of Vermont announced in a public release on EurekAlert! that it is working jointly on a research project with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga called, “Underground Infrastructure Sensing.” The technology is a combination of advanced ground penetrating radar (GPR) and augmented reality.
The researchers are able to locate scans in a geographic space the program can remember and knit together into a map by using a common 3D scanning smart phone app. The phone then converts the grainy radar scans to clearly recognizable, nuanced three-dimensional objects using augmented reality software, commonly used for video game development.
“The net result is that the system knows where you are, knows what’s underneath, and can show you detailed images of what’s there,” said Dryver Huston, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Vermont.
Huston added, “A person with augmented reality goggles or a specially equipped smart phone or tablet will be able to walk over the area that needs to be inspected, look into the device and see in detail what’s underground six to 12 feet down.”
That’s almost like playing Pokémon Go.
One of the research teams was also able to transfer the massive amounts of data generated by the GPR and the 3D scanning software from a location back to the server on campus in real time.
The release cites information from the American Public Works Association that says an underground utility line is hit, on average, every 60 seconds in the United States, which costs the national economy billions of dollars. And a study by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences found that only 35% of municipal utility records are complete and up to date.
With numerous separate utilities required to inspect the ground under a dig site, permitting can take up to 18 months. This new technology could potentially whittle that down to a couple of hours.
With all that time you’ll be saving, you’ll definitely have a few minutes for Pokémon Go.