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01 March, 2002

`Wearable` computer guides maintenance staff

Maintenance personnel could soon be "wearing" computers or carrying laptops that will guide them around a plant and give them the latest operational data on any item of equipment via wireless data links to the plant`s control system.

Engineers working for Siemens in the US are developing the system, which includes a portable camera that the user points at one of thousands of markers distributed around the plant. This pinpoints the user`s location and transmits it to a central computer system which, in turn, sends back a map of the area which can help the user to navigate.

The user can request information on the status of equipment in that area by speaking into a microphone, and will receive a computer-generated answer telling them, for example, that a particular tank is 34% full of water at 62°C.

The system, being developed at Siemens` Corporate Research Centre in Princeton, New Jersey, is due to start trials soon in a real factory.

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