Providence Grid in ‘Augmented Reality’!


Since the first Star Wars film in 1977, most technology professionals and enthusiasts have dreamed of a future involving moving holograms. The idea of a dynamic 3D object projected anywhere into the real world (see: R2-D2 on the planet Tatooine), in addition to being incredibly cool, has enormous functional potential. Simply put, more data can be illustrated more intuitively in three dimensions than on a two-dimensional screen. So a team of surgeons or engineers, with the help of a hologram, could theoretically work together on the same 3D object from wherever they are in the world. For the operators of an increasingly complicated electric grid, confined to specific control centers and convoluted data displays, the attraction of 3D holograms is equally strong.

For this reason (as well as a deep-seated affinity for the early Star Wars films), we developed a holographic Augmented Reality (AR) demonstration of Providence’s electric grid. Using the Microsoft Hololens glasses, our demo shows viewers a floating model of the city of Providence, and overlays power lines and utility equipment. After highlighting National Grid’s cutting-edge South Street Substation, we illustrate the concept of real-time grid visibility with animations for three core applications of our Signal Intelligence Engine (SIe) platform: Efficiency, Security, and Stability. In the future, just as we can see real-time traffic information on Google Maps, electric utilities may be able to monitor and control grid conditions in real-time using this sort of AR technology.

Check out the video to see our AR demonstration in action. And then visit our Utilidata at the National Governors Association Meeting blog post about our presentation at the National Governors Association meeting, to see which six governors’ security details allowed us to approach with our strange electronic headgear.