Last November, we revealed how we used Microsoft Kinect for Windows to develop a natural user interface for Jack; our human simulation software. It was an exciting time for us as Kinect for Windows allowed us to explore new opportunities to do human simulation like we never did before. Initially, our R&D team started this off as a prototype idea as they let their imagination and creativity find new and exciting applications of this tool.
Now, our objectives shifted to prove that the Kinect for WIndows solution has practical applications for industries. One of the first applications of this tool was found in the nuclear energy industry. The industry looked for better ways to measure radiation exposure on workers as they performed maintenance tasks. This is commonly known as the ALARA, or “as low as reasonably achievable” planning, and is a mandatory employee health and safety (EH&S) compliance procedure for any nuclear plant operator.
Using Kinect for Windows and Jack, ALARA planners can use their natural postures to demonstrate and validate how workers will perform various maintenance tasks in a facility. Once the task sequence is captured, Jack provides a 3D assessment of the radiation dosage map so that planners can analyze the radiation exposed areas much more accurately. Finally, planners can communicate the results to the plant maintenance technicians where he or she can check the correct task procedures in a Windows based tablet. In addition, Teamcenter manages information related to the ALARA plan which makes it easy to perform traceability, compliance and reporting tasks.
The development of this solution was a story of innovation and collaboration between teams from Siemens and Microsoft. We are also thankful for the support and expertise we received from our industry associations with the Electric Power Research Institute, FIATECH and nuclear plant operators. Erica Simmons, Marketing Manager, Energy and Utilities at Siemens PLM Software summed it up nicely when she said, “With the Siemens technologies and the Microsoft technologies enabling planning and mobility and industrial gaming, we really think that’s going to transform the way this (nuclear) industry is doing their planning today.”
Watch this video where our ALARA development team talks about this solution