Augmented reality: is this the start of a revolution in electrical solutions?

Two new appointments for Northern Switchgear
30th August 2018
Meet the team: Ben Croucher
12th November 2018
IMAGE CREDIT: Schneider Electric

IMAGE CREDIT: Schneider Electric

Recently, we were lucky enough to visit the headquarters of Schneider Electric in Grenoble, France, to be involved in a showcase of their new augmented reality application.

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, via an electronic device such as a smartphone or tablet, thus providing an enhanced version of reality which brings in elements of the virtual world to provide a range of benefits to the user.

Schneider’s new application has the potential to revolutionise how electrical systems are managed and maintained, by superimposing current data and virtual objects onto a cabinet, machine or plant, enabling instant issue diagnosis and contactless maintenance.

We take a look at the benefits of the new system, alongside the wider application of AR to the construction industry as a whole.


EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor

Schneider’s application, known as the EcoStruxure™ Augmented Operator Advisor, combines contextual and local dynamic information for mobile users, enabling them to experience a fusion of the physical, real-life environment with virtual objects. It puts real-time information at operators’ fingertips, whenever and wherever it is needed.

The system significantly speeds up operation and maintenance of systems by providing access to real-time data, user manuals, instructions and diagrams. There is no longer any need to spend time searching for technical data in assorted software, databases, activity logs or even filing cabinets.

The colour variation display which identifies the operating status of all aspects of a system also allows for quicker and easier detection of issues and diagnosis. It also provides access to hidden parts of the system by enabling operators to open cabinet doors virtually rather than physically, thus reducing system downtime and the costs associated with this.

The system also reduces the possibility of human errors being made in the maintenance of systems. By diagnosing issues more effectively and providing access to the appropriate step by step guides to complete maintenance in real time, the likelihood of mistakes being made along the way are greatly reduced.


Wider benefits of virtual reality

The EcoStruxure system is just one example of how AR is being used to improve the operation and efficiency of industrial systems and machinery, but the technology is being applied across construction projects to provide a range of benefits across the industry.

Improving accuracy

Accuracy is crucial in construction projects. AR provides teams with a walkthrough of their entire project, including fine details and exact measurements. It also ensures that all parties, including architects, project managers, engineers and switchgear providers, are all in receipt of the same detailed information, providing consistency across all aspects of the project. It also enables easier detection of potential issues at future project stages before they surface.

Real-time visualisations through AR take the guesswork out of project management because there is no need to rely on manually recorded measurements or drawings anymore. Augmented reality can display accurate images with the entire space’s recreation, making planning more efficient and saving the time and effort required to build different design plans.

Cost Savings

AR provides an exact replica of every aspect of a system or entire building for a project. It can also display accurate architecture models to allow for easy 3D model modification. This eliminates the need for creating new architecture plans, which can be expensive and time consuming.

AR also accelerates construction processes because team members can have quick and instant access to virtual models, thus cutting down on the duration of projects, making significant cost savings.

Improved design Analysis

Using AR, designers across all aspects of a project can accurately analyse the design. By enabling them to walk through a proposed project, they can more accurately identify any design flaws and make adjustments in just a few taps.

Real world visualisation through AR enables architects and designers to provide a better insight into the design and details of a specific project to the contractors and owners versus what’s available with scale models, 2D drawing, and Building Information Modelling (BIM).



AR is a significant technological advance which could revolutionise the way projects are developed and delivered across the construction industry. It streamlines every process involved in a major project by assisting all inputting teams, including switchgear providers, in delivering to a detailed and accurate specification, without needing to make allowances for errors and guesswork.