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3D City Swiss researchers look underground with 3D glasses

rescue workers fixing underground water pipes

The prototype gives users a colour-coded view of what lies below the surface.


If Google Earth allows you to see the planet in minute detail, the subsoil remains inaccessible to the naked eye. A team from Switzerland's  University of Geneva is working to change that.

They are developing augmented reality glasses which would allow you to see underground pipelines in 3D.

"It is a holographic visualisation that allows you to add elements to a real image," explains Dimitri Konstantas, professor at the University of Geneva (UNIGE)external link, in an interview with Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA published on Sunday.  "In concrete terms, augmented reality glasses identify where we are, and show in a matter of seconds the underground pipes under our feet."

The prototype, he adds, has a display accuracy of less than two centimetres. Geolocation is done with the eye.

The user's eyes work like a cursor on a computer. They allow you to visualise where the pipes would be. These appear in different colours, depending on their use: blue for drinking water, yellow for gas and red for electricity.


The prototype development required two years of research and development. The pilot project called City 3D is funded by Innosuisseexternal link, the Swiss agency for the promotion of innovation.

The applications of these augmented reality glasses are multiple. For example, site managers can visualise underground pipes before digging, which would considerably reduce the relatively frequent pull-outs of electrical cables or pipes.

Project engineers can see existing networks and add elements more easily, especially for complex projects. Architects have the opportunity to visualise their building and share it with others at the same time.


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