Hidden City: Innovating urban transformation

Kiruna municipality in Sweden and CGI are testing and using an innovative mixed reality platform that digitally maps, documents and interacts with underground infrastructure.

iHubs Sweden Smart cities and housing Hidden City: Innovating urban transformation

The Swedish government developed a plan to move the entire city of Kiruna, due to an expanding mine close to the city. During the initial phases of the Kiruna relocation, a CGI expert from Kiruna devised an innovative concept called Hidden City that uses Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality in combination with geographic information system (GIS) equipment and data to digitally map and visualize the underground infrastructure.

Augmented and mixed reality

The project is a cooperation with CGI Hidden City, Kiruna Sustainability Center and Vinnova. It is a solution developed using augmented reality technology to support a major infrastructure undertaking where the whole city of Kiruna was moved due to instabilities in the ground from a century of mining. With Hidden City, those tasked with managing the infrastructure and move heavy machinery as well as houses and more, can use Hololens AR glasses to “see” plumbing and wiring under the surface.

The project is pioneering the outdoor use of HoloLens, which by design is made to be used indoors.

“Together with Kiruna, we’ve been given the chance to try a new technique. There are lots of possibilities created when an entire town is being moved,” says Robert Ylitalo, Head of Business Engineering and Sales North, CGI Sweden, in a video made by CGI.

“We’ve been working with something called “augmented reality” or “mixed reality”. Through combining smart galsses which create the image, and infrastructure, you get supernatural powers. You get kind of an X-ray vision so that you can see through the ground, and see what is underneath,” says Robert Ylitalo.

Video below shows the smart city project in Kiruna

Hidden City uses data on the exact specifications of pipes in conjunction with a precision GPS that relies on satellite systems to keep track of what types of pipes are laid and where. The data is input into the HoloLens and projected onto a grid on the ground. This helps visualize what is underground without actually digging.

The project Hidden City has been honored internationally as one of the finalists at 2018 World Smart City Award Winners in Barcelona, Spain.

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