MBTA Workers Will Use Augmented Reality Glasses to Make Repairs Faster


Commuter rail workers in Boston will test augmented reality glasses in September that are designed to stream video of what the worker sees back to an expert off-site, which can solve problems faster and keep trains running on time.

Those glasses will be powered by software from AMA, a French-American company that designed the Xpert Eye platform to offer what it calls a “See what I see” solution. (The glasses themselves are manufactured by Vuzix and ODG.)

Both parties can screenshot the video, write messages to each other, and chat to figure out what needs to be done.

“[Remote workers] could easily fix a broken door, loudspeaker, or heating or air-conditioning system if they had a good way to consult our maintenance experts,” KCS manager for operation planning and performance improvement Yann Veslin told MIT Technology Review. “They’ll also learn more through this visual experience than they would if they just called each other on the phone.”

Using augmented reality glasses as video streaming tools has grown in popularity after Google Glass went dark in January. Now, instead of targeting consumers, companies like AMA have decided to focus on proving their worth to businesses.

This shift has led to platforms like AMA’s Xpert Eye and, to shake things up a bit, a sniper rifle that streams video to someone’s augmented reality glasses so its user can reduce their risk of injury.

Who knows, maybe if this trial goes well train workers will be among the first to wear the contact lens computers made by Sony, Samsung, and Verily. Welcome to the future of subway maintenance.