'Magic' eyes set for maintenance staff

Top News | Carine Chow 18 Jun 2021

A newly-invented system will be installed in three government buildings this year that will allow maintenance staff to see through dropped ceilings and refine their work with augmented reality and 5G technology.

By putting on a pair of smart goggles, maintenance workers will be able to locate and monitor virtually mechanical fittings like air-conditioners and pipes hidden in ceilings. They can then carry out maintenance work.

The system, called "building information modelling and asset management," will be used at Tin Shui Wai Hospital, the West Kowloon government complex and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department headquarters by the third quarter.

EMSD, which invented the system and secured a patent in 2016, said it would provide a one-stop platform for workers to access equipment information, operational status and maintenance records.

What that means, senior engineer Steve Chan Hor-yin said, is "workers will only have to remove parts of the ceilings where malfunctioning parts are hidden. This saves them the trouble of searching through the ceiling."

They can also preassess an environment and only take necessary parts to a place, as opposed to the current method whereby workers carry out an assessment then return to base to collect a necessary part. As a result, the amount of time spent on one job should be cut by about 15 percent.

Chan added that it was "not common" to apply augmented reality and 5G technology on maintenance work, but the hope was that 15 of the government's new buildings would adopt the system before 2025. And Development Bureau officers have said infrastructure that costs HK$30 million or more should meld into the system.

On another front, the EMSD is launching a smart toilet trial in 17 public conveniences this year with the help of the food and environmental hygiene and leisure and cultural services departments.

EMSD director Eric Pang Yiu-hung said the system can count users, the availability of toilet paper and soap and monitor conditions, including odors, ventilation, temperatures and humidity. "Users can also see the occupancy situation of toilets on other floors," he added.

Two toilets will have the new system installed next month, and work on all 17 toilets will be completed early next year.


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