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According to Statista,the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) sector would grow to become a $75 billion behemoth by 2024.Goldman Sachs forecasts that the sector would have a market size of $95 billion by 2025. For an industry that was worth $6 billion just four years ago (in 2016), these numbers are staggering. However, they accurately represent the meteoric rise of AR and VR on the world stage. Over the past 10 years in particular, the technologies have seen more global business sectors adopt them and build viable use-cases around them. From entertainment to healthcare, education, automotive, retail, aerospace, and maritime. In this post, we bring into focus the budding relationship between the shipping industry and augmented/virtual reality. We highlight some progress made since 2010 and how it bodes well for future growth in both sectors.

  • 1. Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) opened up its Full Mission Simulator (FMS) for virtual reality training
    of engine room crew in 2017. The FMS is situated at the Marine Power Academy Training Center in Shanghai China, a facility
    that trains over 500 crew members every year. WinGD’s simulator is just one of 20+ such installations spread around the

    2. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) launched a VR-powered training goggle that provides a deeper level of immersion and realism,
    enabling seafarers to safely train and onboard, as well as replicate training scenarios and difficult work operations

    3. In 2019, the UK government announced plans to leverage AR and VR for seafarer training in the region. According to the
    release, an innovation hub will be created at a UK port before 2030, and legislation will be passed that supports further
    testing of autonomous vehicles in the United Kingdom. These initiatives are geared towards reducing emissions and improving

    4. The European Union recently established a project that develops and tests AR bridge systems; this is expected to improve
    navigation safety and efficiency in Arctic ship operations. €6.5 million has been earmarked for this 3-year-long
    undertaking. Partners in this project include recognized maritime stakeholders like Lloyd’s Register, Stena Rederi, and
    Aker Arctic, along with institutions like the University College London, Cork Institute of Technology, Harbin Engineering
    University, and Aalto University.

    5. In 2020, SEAHARMONY launched its augmented reality web platform, creating a way for maritime industry participants to
    leverage remote capabilities. Via the platform, shipowners can conduct virtual tours of their vessels, carry out emergency
    repairs and maintenance checks, facilitate collaboration between officers at sea and technical experts in another country,
    and so on. You can learn more about the SEAHARMONY platform here.

  • Crew training, shipping logistics, remote collaboration, virtual tours, and seafarer safety are just some ways AR and VR can be adopted for the maritime sector. In the coming years, the expectation is that more use-cases will be discovered and the current AR/VR models would have been improved significantly.