Augmented reality technology could improve communication in poultry plants

Wednesday, 25 January, 2006

Technology that transfers computer-generated information onto the physical world is being tested for use in poultry farms to improve communication between computers and workers.

Using augmented reality (AR) technology, researchers have designed two systems that project graphical instructions from an automated inspection system onto birds on a processing line.

The symbols tell workers how to trim or whether to discard defective products.

At present, inspection is visual, done by human screeners who communicate instructions to trimmers using gestures. But an automated inspection system developed and field tested by the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is being commercial-ised, and poultry farm officials are likely to implement the technology in the near term, said J Craig Wyvill, head of the GTRI Food Technology Processing Division.

"When that happens, the industry will need an efficient way to link communication from the imaging system to the trimmers," Wyvill said. So in a project funded by GRTI's state-supported Agricultural Technology Research Program, GTRI researchers are collaborating with experts in the Georgia Tech College of Computing to use AR technology in poultry plants. AR applications have been successfully demonstrated in industrial assembly and inspection, as well as the medical field.

The first approach uses a location-tracked, see-through, head-mounted display worn by a trimmer. It directly overlays graphical instructions on a trimmer's view of the birds.

A second solution uses a laser scanner, mounted in a fixed location near the processing line, to project graphical instructions directly onto each bird that requires some action, such as trimming.

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