How to Capture Data Safely & Efficiently Hands-Free for Industrial Customers with Wearable Computing

Utility augmented reality platform, designed by a utility, to increase productivity, efficiency, and safety on the frontline.

Welcome to our RealWear Spotlight Series debut issue!  In this series, we are on a virtual road tour interviewing our growing family of partners across the globe.  This first interview was  conducted this month over email with Manitoba Hydro’s David Enns.

David Enns Managing Director of MHI and a RealWear Partner
David Enns Managing Director of MHI and a RealWear Partner

David Enns is an award-winning Canadian entrepreneur and founder of two acquired companies and currently Managing Director of Manitoba Hydro International (MHI), Transmission & Distribution Solutions Division.  David is responsible for the commercialization of an innovative product line that includes High Voltage Padmount Transformers “Substations-in-a-Box”, EnergyEdge IoT monitoring and VisualSpection – Augmented Reality for Asset Inspections/Maintenance, while also delivering best in class T&D Engineering design/modeling and High Voltage Testing Services through North America’s newest HV Test Facility.

Tell us a bit about your company. 

Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manitoba Hydro, one of Canada’s largest electrical utilities.  For over 30 years, MHI has delivered innovative services and solutions to customers in the energy and telecommunications sectors in over 120+ countries.  MHI provides the same quality of service and proven methods that have been mastered in one of North America’s most efficient and best-managed energy utilities.

Tell us a bit about your product or solution.

MHI Visual Spection – RealWear Partner Highlight

MHI’s VisualSpection platform is a customizable Augmented Reality (AR) inspection-based platform solution designed for smart glasses, or heads-up displays.  VisualSpection allows the field worker to capture data safely and efficiently all while working hands free.  All data captured is geotagged, timestamped, & encrypted, all while being hosted through MHI’s industrial-grade online portal.  Any and all audio notes are transcribed to text, eliminating the need for time-consuming data entry.

VisualSpection also allows the creation of AR customizable workflows, or tasks, that can be sent to the HMT-1 device, or field worker.  We are using AR as a means of workflow visualization and simply for situational awareness.  In uncontrolled conditions, utility assets start to become worn over time due to multiple factors such as weather, vegetation growth, wildlife or vandalism.  Our AR-inspection platform overlays AR markers on these assets allowing the field worker to effectively locate these assets, retrieve asset information and to perform their workflow.

What problem are you trying to solve and for whom?  What’s the pain point you are alleviating?

VisualSpection solves two main problem areas; painful data entry and safety concerns.  Traditional means of inspections and documentation in most asset maintenance departments is performed on tablets; prior to tablets was pen and paper.  The problem is twofold; the burden of carrying around a mobile device and slow and meticulous data entry with the stylus pen.

OK, what’s the size of this problem?

Good question.  Take a look at Google Earth and zoom out.  Better yet, go on Google and take a look at satellite imagery when the earth is at sleep (or night time).  It’s lit up, powered and connected.  All that power or electricity is generated and taken to the end customer by means of transmission and distribution networks.  That whole network needs to be maintained.  Start to see the picture?

What’s the ROI opportunity?

There’s over one million inspectors in the energy sector. By using remote assistance, or peer to peer communication, the ROI is usually realized within one deployment.  Some of our clients have achieved 67% faster data collection with our AR inspection-based platform vs the traditional means of tablets.

Wow.  That’s very strong ROI!  When did you learn about RealWear and why did we start working together?

We heard about RealWear late 2016.  We started working with RealWear because it was a no-brainer; the HMT-1 and VisualSpection solution is the only hands free, voice-driven, customizable AR inspection-based solution designed for the rugged workforce on the market.

What kinds of customers would be interested in this solution?  Who are you currently working with?

Any customer that performs inspections, repairs, installations, maintenance, etc.  Being from a utility, VisualSpection is geared towards the power and energy industry, or as we like to say, from one utility to another.

So let’s talk performance and experience.  How does your product perform on the HMT-1?  Talk about the experience.  Have you conducted any performance tests that you can share?

Our performance tests occur in natural environments that includes -35°c to +35°c temperatures, loud noise and winds. The success of the deployments is really due to the HMT-1 industrial capabilities, as the voice-driven software has always been good.

 What’s the feedback been from your customers?   That’s what matters most of all.

We have many successful case studies from many disciplines in the energy sector and everyone appreciates the ease of use combined with our energy know-how.


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