Augmented reality for improved safety

Sometimes, CERN experts have to operate in low visibility conditions or in the presence of possible hazards. Minimising the duration of the operation and reducing the risk of errors is therefore crucial to ensuring the safety of personnel. The EDUSAFE project integrates different technologies to create a wearable personnel safety system based on augmented reality. 


The EDUSAFE integrated safety system uses a camera mounted on the helmet to monitor the working area. 

In its everyday operation of machines and facilities, CERN adopts a whole set of measures and safety equipment to ensure the safety of its personnel, including personal wearable safety devices and access control systems. However, sometimes, scheduled and emergency maintenance work needs to be done in zones with potential cryogenic hazards, in the presence of radioactive equipment or simply in demanding conditions where visibility is low and moving around is difficult. The EDUSAFE Marie Curie Innovative Training Network project (see box below) uses augmented reality (AR) to reduce the duration of the operation and to enhance the safety of the worker by decreasing the room for error.

“We are designing an innovative system that integrates some systems already in use, in particular the active dosimeter, with new technologies,” explains CERN’s Olga Beltramello, EDUSAFE Network Coordinator. “Through an electronic board that collects inputs from various sensors and a camera and sends them via a wireless connection, the worker is constantly monitored by operators located on the surface. At the same time, AR technologies allow the real-time computer-based identification and analysis of the objects in the worker’s environment and project necessary information onto the display of his or her smart glasses.”

An important requirement is fast pattern recognition and tracking of objects in an environment that is not fully predictable, frequently with bad and changing lighting. “We try to provide accuracy in the range of millimetres without losing speed and flexibility,” says Giulio Aielli from the University of Rome Tor Vergata, who coordinates the AR technology development team. “Since this is something not yet achieved by the AR systems currently available, we are developing our own solution: the Weighting Resistive Matrix technology.” Originally conceived in 1992 at the University of Rome Tor Vergata for high-energy physics experiments, the Weighting Resistive Matrix technology has been further developed in the framework of the EDUSAFE project and combined with the cutting-edge artificial vision computer technologies and pattern recognition software developed at EPFL in Lausanne.

Panoramic view of the ATLAS cavern: the radioactive spots are highlighted on the smart glasses worn by the operator via AR.

The safety equipment developed by EDUSAFE will be able to identify radioactive spots accurately. Using a gamma-ray camera – currently still being developed by Canberra, a company specialising in nuclear measurement solutions – the system will scan the environment and highlight radioactive spots via AR on the smart glasses worn by the operator. “The difficult part here is to think of the combination of measurements needed to quickly identify the source,” explains Enzo Paradiso of Canberra, a PhD student and early-stage researcher in EDUSAFE. EPFL’s Alberto Crivellaro, another researcher involved in the project, adds: “We also need to locate the eyes with respect to the 3D world, and find a way to coherently overlay all this information.”

The technological applications of this innovative AR equipment are countless and the collaboration has already identified possible synergies with the medical field. “We are looking into developing novel solutions to be employed by surgeons,” explains Beltramello. “Indeed, when combined with medical imagery, AR can be a useful tool to guide the surgeon during the operation. The surgeon will be able to give a voice command and the AR system will recognise and position in space the specific tools needed with extreme accuracy, giving the surgeons a new field of vision.”

The EDUSAFE project is scheduled to complete its mandate this August when the first prototype of the smart system will be ready for release. 

The EDUSAFE collaboration

EDUSAFE (Education in Advanced VR/AR Safety Systems for Maintenance in Extreme Environments) is an international collaboration led by CERN, which hosts the project headquarters at IdeaSquare.

The collaboration includes the following European institutions and companies:

  • CERN
  • Canberra France (France)
  • Università Degli Studi Di Roma Tor Vergata (Italy)
  • Prisma Electronics ABEE (Greece)
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne (Switzerland)
  • Institute of Accelerating Systems and Applications (Greece)
  • E. Kasderidis & SIA E.E. (Greece)
  • Technische Universität München (Germany)
  • Athens University of Economics and Business - Research Center (Greece)
  • Caen University (France)
  • Democritus University of Thrace (Greece)
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • National Technical University of Athens (Greece)


It provides training for ten early-stage researchers and two experienced researchers, with very diverse backgrounds and originally coming from all around the world. Find out more on the EDUSAFE website.


by Stefania Pandolfi