AR

A Commercial and Residential Mobile Home Park Finds Value in AR: How the Argis Lens is Providing Positive Results for Crawford Properties, LLC

The Argis Lens, a mobile app that integrates ArcGIS data with augmented reality, helps a commercial and residential mobile home park in El Jebel, Colorado visualize and refine their GIS data, saving time and improving safety outcomes.

by Alyssa Grant

Improved safety outcomes, more accurate GIS data, and time savings are all positive results Crawford Properties, LLC, a commercial and residential mobile home park, is seeing after adopting the Argis Lens as part of their utility location process. Located in El Jebel, Colorado, Crawford Properties consists of approximately 289 mobile home lots, 15 apartments and rental homes, 29 commercial units, and an assortment of tenants renting open space for storage. They are a Tier One member of Colorado 811 with a total team of six field crew members, three of which are certified locators. The locator crew handles approximately 10 locates a month. 

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Even before Colorado’s recent Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) legislation was passed, Crawford’s property manager and owner, Prentice Hubbell, began to look towards augmented reality (AR) as a possible solution for their business needs. For almost 60 years, foreman Noel Crawford gathered an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Crawford Properties’ 5.4 square miles of underground assets-- water, sewer, gas, and electrical infrastructure that supports life and business for El Jebel’s 1600 residents. The sewer infrastructure consists of plastic piping with no tracer wires, so it wasn’t a simple process for others to access what Noel had mentally catalogued through his years of work. With Noel’s well-earned retirement on the horizon, Hubbell began to consider the Argis Lens, a mobile app that translates ArcGIS feature services into augmented reality in real time, as the solution for cataloguing and communicating the valuable information that was currently only accessible through Noel.

The Argis Lens was attractive to Hubbell because he recognized that its integration with ArcGIS would allow his crew to create a database of this geolocational information, enabling any of them to access it quickly and confidently. His newer generation of technical-savvy field crew members were comfortable with the intuitive layout of the Lens app, so implementation was easy. Communication was now streamlined. Immediately, in one if its first uses, they noticed that operating the Lens made it much easier to perform sprinkler system maintenance on the town’s baseball field. Spatial confusion was quickly becoming a thing of the past.

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Crawford Properties’ next step is to complete the rollout of the new AR Ticketing Management System (ARTMS) to streamline the process Crawford uses to show positive response required of all Tier One members for Colorado 811 transactions in their area. The system already ingests Colorado 811 marking requests and allows users to give a positive response directly from the field within the application. Tracking workers, ticket assignments, and situational awareness in AR for the crew member working in the area of interest associated with the ticket are just some of the additional benefits of using the system. 

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What does a workflow for Crawford Properties look like for common issues, for instance, a water leak? First, a tenant calls in a leak, and Colorado 811 locates gas and electric lines. Then the Crawford team makes their own marks to denote their own infrastructure, and the crew starts digging. After the assets are uncovered, using the Lens, they create a photographic record, make the needed repairs, and update their geolocational information so that in the future they have the benefit of a more precise GIS record. Hubbell’s advice on implementing the Argis Lens into a workflow: “Just start. Start. Start with your street signs. Then add your roads. And eventually you will have good GIS data. Add notes in your attribute area for the field team so they know. Add ‘just a guess’ if you aren’t sure. At least it gives them something.” Hubbell remains pleased by the results Crawford’s field crews have been able to achieve with the Argis Lens in their virtual toolbelts.

Augmented Reality and Animation: Cosmically Engaging Museum Visitors at the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center

Argis Solutions collaborates with Worker Studio to bring the Space Foundation’s interactive augmented reality character to life for education and engagement at the Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, CO.

By Alyssa Grant

Recognizing the engaging power of augmented reality (AR) and its value as an educational tool, the Space Foundation enlisted animation company Worker Studio and augmented reality experts Argis Solutions to develop an exciting educational tool for the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center. Worker Studio crafted the transmedia edutainment character, astronaut Eugene “Cosmo” Nutt, and Argis Solutions created the AR platform that brings Cosmo alive in app form so that he can interact with his audience in three-dimensional settings.

Cosmo had his augmented reality debut at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the annual gathering of space professionals sponsored by the Space Foundation. His mission at the Space Symposium was to host a prototype for a planned multimedia exhibit at the Discovery Center demonstrating how AR can foster deeper educational engagement when paired with traditional museum exhibits. In the future, educators at the Space Foundation hope to use him in app-based learning, augmented reality, short films, virtual classrooms, and even as an animated talk show host that guests and audiences can interact with in real time. 

Worker Studio’s cosmically delightful character Cosmo has been in development for years. His AR capabilities were brought to life by merging Maya, a computer animation and modeling software, with Unity, a 3D game development platform. “One of the hardest things to do is create amazing movie quality graphics and animations while keeping in mind the limited capabilities on mobile devices,” said Chris Anderson, vice president of augmented reality at Argis Solutions. “With the new features of Unity 3D, and the always increasing power of phones and tablets, it is now becoming a reality.” These technological advancements give authenticity to the real-world interactions Cosmo has with his audience, fostering deeper engagement. Speaking about the collaboration between Worker Studio and Argis, Anderson remarked, “It was an amazing opportunity to get to partner with animators who have worked on blockbuster movies and bring their creations to life through AR.”

The feeling is mutual. Reflecting on the project, Jason Cangialosi, partner and minister of propaganda at Worker Studio, added, “Working with the team at Argis opened up a new universe of possibilities in augmented reality. I see it like they helped us build the rocket that got Cosmo on the Moon, and now we’re ready to go to Mars!”

The Space Foundation isn’t alone in appreciating the benefits of AR. Increasingly, museums across the globe are finding creative ways to merge AR with their exhibits. In the spirit of Pokemon Go, the National Museum of Singapore’s exhibit The Story of a Forest allowed visitors to search and capture flora and fauna that were found in the exhibit’s botanical drawings. Jennifer Billock writing for Smithsonian.com notes, “With augmented reality, museums are superimposing the virtual world right over what’s actually in front of you, bringing exhibits and artifacts to life in new ways.” The interactive nature of AR combined with the flexibility of mobile devices allows museums to draw visitors from their living room to the exhibit or experience parts of the exhibit from the comfort of their living room. Younger generations, with their deeply digitalized childhoods, could also find more meaningful engagement when AR is merged with museum exhibits.

One of the next missions on the horizon for Cosmo is to connect with Space Foundation visitors at the upcoming Space in Our State exhibit this fall. Colorado is a national leader in school and business contribution to the advancement of space exploration. Space in Our State will allow visitors to bring Colorado to life as they learn about our state’s important role in helping space programs achieve lift-off. Interested in becoming a sponsor of this landmark exhibit?  Want to get behind something that demonstrates the importance of space exploration to communities throughout Colorado? Visit www.spacefoundation.org/donate to contribute to this exciting mission.