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How Virtual & Augmented Reality are Revolutionizing the Mining Industry

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How Virtual & Augmented Reality are Revolutionizing the Mining Industry


Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are technologies that are quickly becoming great tools for many types of industries.

From tourism to manufacturing and everything in between, both Augmented and Virtual reality are truly changing the way that things work. One industry where VR and AR is relevant and is offering a significant change to the way things are done is the mining industry. More and more mining companies are turning to these technologies as a way to improve safety, efficiency, and to drive innovation.

Over the past several years the mining industry has invested about 0.5 percent of their revenues into R&D. The investment into new innovations such as augmented reality and virtual reality technologies will help to insulate the mining industry from volatility and will also help to ensure future profitability.

There are several ways that both virtual and augmented reality can be useful in the mining industry. Some of the ways that VR and AR can be utilized include for equipment training, safety training, field solutions, and to provide site tours of the mines.

Let’s take a closer look at what VR and AR are as well as the different ways that both of these types of technologies are already being used and may be used in the future for the mining industry.

What is the Difference Between Virtual and Augmented Reality?

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When it comes to understanding how virtual reality and augmented reality can help revolutionize the mining industry, the first step is to understand exactly how each of these technologies work. Many people do not understand the difference between these two technologies.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a computer generated stimulation. It is artificial and recreates a real life situation or environment. Users are immersed in the virtual world. They feel like they are enveloped in reality firsthand. This is primarily through hearing and vision.

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Typically, virtual reality will be delivered through a headset that is equipped with the technology. Most often, virtual reality is used to enhance reality for entertainment or gaming. It is also used to enhance training in a real life environment by simulating a reality for people to practice beforehand. One prime example of this is a flight simulator used by pilots. In the mining industry it can be used to create practice scenarios of where dynamite can be placed in order to create the appropriate cracks and to avoid avalanches and other dangerous situations.

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Augmented Reality

Augmented reality uses layers of computer generated enhancements on top of existing reality. This makes it more meaningful when interacting with it. Augmented reality is developed as apps and then used on a mobile device to blend a digital component with the real world. This is completed in a way that enhances both realities, but it can also be easily told apart.

AR is becoming more and more mainstream as it is used in 3D photos, emails, and texts for mobile devices, and for overlays for televised sports. The tech industry uses motion activated commands and holograms as well as other revolutionary things.

Differences between AR and VR

The main difference between AR and VR is that VR recreates a real life setting digitally, while AR uses virtual elements as overlays for the real world.

Why Use Virtual Reality in Mines?

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Virtual reality and augmented reality can greatly change the landscape of how training is conducted, especially in jobs that are dangerous, such as mining. Using controlled explosives in mines is extremely important. However, this can be quite dangerous and even deadly if they are not handled correctly.

If the explosives are not placed in the correct locations and accurate measurements are not made, the rocks may fracture in ways that are not expected. This can create a hazardous situation, not only underground, but above the surface as well.

Virtual reality provides a way to practice the art of placing explosives without any of the danger by using a simulated VR mine.

How is Virtual Reality Being Used in the Mining Industry So Far?

Simulated Training Solutions, which is a South African company, created the first VR blast wall in 2016. This VR blast wall was installed in Zambia at the Mopani Copper Mines. Since this first wall was installed, there have been two others that have been installed in locations in South Africa and there is a third that is being created.

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This training device allows trainees to practice their skills. While sitting in a dark training room, users will see a rock projected onto a large interactive canvas. An electronic spray can will be used to mark the measured blast holes. Once the blast holes have been marked, the trainee will then be able to practice detonating the explosives in the correct sequence. As they are doing this they can watch to see how the rocks react and fracture. Any mistakes that are made are highlighted through the markings.

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These virtual walls are a very close representation of what miners will be dealing with when working in the real world. This means that the virtual technology is providing extremely effective job training for miners. In the past blackboard exercises and videos were relied on for training and these methods are simply not as effective as the virtual wall.

When the virtual technology is used to train blasters, they come out of the training more prepared. When the blasters are well-trained, it translates into savings for mine operators as any blast that goes wrong can result in labour costs, clean up costs, and delayed production.

Technology and Mine Operation

Virtual and augmented reality are not the only new technologies that are being used throughout the mining industry. There are many other technologies that are helping to create a safer work environment for miners.

Some innovations that have been implemented throughout the mining industry include the use of autonomous trucks and drills as well as the use of drones. Drones can be used for a number of applications including equipment inspection, evaluating terrain, and filming blasts. Typically, a drone will provide safe and quick access to different aspects of the mining operation that are in places that are high up or otherwise difficult to reach.

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Autonomous trucks and drills have greatly improved productivity as well as on site safety. This type of equipment allows a single operator to be in charge of several drills at once. An autonomous system will also create drilling data that can be used for achieving a better blast and to estimate the ore seam size. The data that is gathered can improve decision making in real time, which is a big benefit of this technology.

Perhaps the most important thing that these types of autonomous drills can do is to remove people from the line of fire. This reduces a person’s exposure to risks and hazards that are associated with operating this type of large equipment. It also reduced injuries related to fatigue.

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Addressing Environmental and Social Issues of Mining

In addition to addressing the safety and productivity in the mining industry, new technology is also offering a way to address some of the environmental and social issues that the mining industry faces.

Cobalt is a metal that is mined and used for the batteries found in some cars and in most smartphones. More than half of the cobalt in the world comes from the Dominican Republic and many of the people who work in these cobalt mines are children. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 40,000 children working in the mining industry.

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With these new technologies that are coming into place, the hope is that using virtual reality for training as well as autonomous trucks and drills, can help to get some of these children out of the mines.

Creating an Intelligent Mine: Mine Design & Planning

The goal of some companies is to create what is being referred to as an intelligent mine in the near future. There are several solutions currently available that can make this goal a reality in a short amount of time simply by implementing just a few small changes.

Mine Life VR is a product created by LlamaZoo that provides a full spectrum of data sets and design iterations for mine planning.  It allows resource management and allocation of resources so mining companies can optimize their offerings.  It also allows investors and community relations by giving users a chance to view a virtual tour of the mine site in real time 3D which before has never been provided.

Working in the mining industry has always been quite a dangerous job. Going down into the mines with the risk of cave-ins and other issues combined with the use of explosives on site, have made this job one that is extremely risky. In addition, children being used to do these types of jobs is deemed unethical by many.

For this reason, knowing that there is emerging technology that can help create a safer environment for the people who work in the mining industry is a good thing. Through the use of virtual and augmented reality, a safer work environment can be created by training miners thoroughly and providing an environment that is not only safer to work in, but also more productive.



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TECHNOLOGY

How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality

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How Hotels and Resorts are Adopting Virtual and Augmented Reality


Once upon a time, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) were only used for video games or seen in movies (think Tony Stark and all of his cool gadgets in Iron Man).

But today, thanks to all of the advances in technology, the use of AR and VR is no longer something you see only in sci-fi thrillers or something that you use for entertainment. No today, AR and VR are becoming much more commonplace, and this technology is being used in a variety of useful applications across a variety of industries. The hotel and hospitality industry is just one field that is making use of augmented and virtual reality, and its popularity is really exploding!

In fact, AR and VR have become powerful marketing tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are really changing the way people are travelling, and it’s definitely for the better.

How are hotels and resorts utilizing augmented and virtual reality and how are these technologies helping both entrepreneurs and travellers alike? Read on to discover the exciting technologically advanced future or travel!

What is Augmented and Virtual Reality?

Before we jump in and explore how hotels and resorts are using augmented and virtual reality, it’s first important to understand exactly what these technologies are.

Both AR and VR create experiences that fully immerse users into different environments or allow them to experience things in a whole new way, but these two technologies do differ. Loosely defined, virtual reality means near-reality (virtual meaning near and reality meaning the here and now; what you are actually experiencing.). Virtual reality immerses users into an interactive computer-generated environment. It incorporates a variety of senses, primarily sight and sound, to create a life-like experience. In other words, you feel as if you have been transported to another location even though you never physically left your current location.

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Augmented reality, on the other hand, involves adding to the reality that you already see; it doesn’t replace your reality, but rather enhances it. AR has the ability to bring elements of the digital world into the real world (again, think Tony Stark in Iron Man).

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So, now that you have a basic understanding of virtual and augmented reality, let’s examine how hotels and resorts are utilizing these technologies.

Providing an Experience Before Booking

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How many times have you reserved a hotel, only to find, much to your dismay, that it was not at all what you were expecting. Sure, pictures can help you get a vague idea of what to expect, but they really can’t give you a clear idea.

With virtual reality, you can get a real idea of where you’re going to be travelling before you make a reservation. You can slip on a headset and be transported to a resort or hotel and actually walk through the lobby, see the guest rooms, and check out all of the amenities.

VR is not only beneficial for travellers’, it is also beneficial to hotels and resorts; particularly lesser-known properties or those that are located in remote areas, as it allows them to give people the opportunity to see what they have to offer.

Establishing a Competitive Edge

The hotel and hospitality industry is extremely competitive. Travellers’ have so many options when it comes to where they can stay. And with hotel and resort database sites, like Booking.com and Travelicity.com, the competition has become even steeper.

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With so much competition, it can be hard for hotels and resorts to set themselves apart from the crowd. Photos and marketing content can only do so much. But augmented and virtual reality can really help hotels and resorts establish a competitive edge. It allows them to distinguish themselves and showcase their unique selling points. In other words, it gives them the chance to show prospective travellers the chance to explore the gardens, visit the restaurants, and lounge by the pool that resort A has to offer, thus allowing the resort to stand out in the crowd and attract more people.

Making Booking Easier

Another way that hotels and resorts are adopting advanced technologies to simplify the booking process for their guests. For example, most hotels and resorts offer different types of accommodations; standard rooms, suites, handicap accessible rooms, and so forth. By using augmented and virtual reality, guests can actually see what different accommodations offer to determine what will best meet their needs.

When potential visitors have the opportunity to really experience different accommodations, the process of making reservations becomes a lot easier for them.

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Ensuring Guest Satisfaction

Hotels and resorts are also using AR and VR as a way to improve guest satisfaction. When people have the chance to see what they are going to get before they arrive, it’s much more likely that they are going to have a more pleasant experience, and when they have a more pleasant experience, guests are much more satisfied. When guest satisfaction improves, so does the reputation of a hotel or resort, which translates to much greater success.

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Augmented Environments

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A lot of properties are using AR as a way to make the environment of their hotel or resort more enjoyable for their guests. For instance, some hotels are using AR to allow guests to use their smartphones to see them alongside images of their favourite celebrities or cartoon characters.  Other hotels are using AR as a means for showcasing products or entertainment options the hotel/resort features.

Summing It Up

Augmented reality and virtual reality are already proving to be invaluable tools for hotels and resorts around the globe. These technologies are a truly effective way to develop a competitive edge, allow guests to see what properties have to offer, improve the booking process, and ensure guest satisfaction.

Given the incredibly positive effects that augmented reality and virtual reality have had for hotels and resorts, it is exciting to think of how these technologies will further be adopted by hotels and resorts, and how AR and VR will enhance marketing for establishments and experiences for travellers in the future.



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