Does augmented reality have a place in cleaning?

Most cleaning firms ban cleaners from wearing iPods as the traditional view is that augmented reality and safety don’t go hand in hand. The latest developments in augmented reality seem to be causing a rethink, however.

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The Pokemon Go craze of 2016 was more than a landmark in popular gaming; it was an eye-opener that made the industry understand what augmented reality means.

Augmented reality (AR) is a kind of “virtual reality lite” that is less demanding of hi-tech gadgetry. It superimposes a layer of digital information onto the real world. Using mobile screens, it can overlay high street shops with details of special offers, project directions onto car windscreens, or put names to faces in the street.

It has been in use for years to project information onto cockpit screens, a system that cost billions, but Pokemon Go has shown it can be performed on equipment that costs virtually nothing.

Smart glasses

Martin Cudzilo owns a cleaning company in Frankfurt and is looking to AR as a means of reducing the costs of supervising cleaners. AR-Check is a system based on smart glasses that is intended to continuously monitor the quality of the cleaner’s work, overlaying the environment with messages about the correct way to do each task and recording which areas have been completed. The system links to sensors fitted into mops and vacuum cleaners, while work gloves report how much pressure the worker applies.

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Not everyone is convinced. Efforts to create fully robotic cleaners have met with less success than efforts to robotise brain surgery, and the amount of monitoring imposed contravenes current legislation about the limits of digital surveillance in the workplace.

In fact, it sounds suspiciously like the “cruel and unusual punishment” forbidden by the 1689 Bill of Rights. For the time being, we suggest you rely upon workers that are properly trained and positively motivated. For commercial cleaning in Belfast, try services like

Niche applications

In medical environments, glasses that shield the eyes from UV whilst using it to reveal danger spots and recommend solutions would be welcomed by all. In nuclear plants, cleaning and maintenance can be carried out in areas that are unsafe for human cleaners, for example.

As the technology becomes cheaper, it would be good to see it extended to other complicated environments that are dangerous for workers.

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