Remote Meter Reader Computer vision tool reads analog gauges at industrial sites.

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Industrial gauges being placed

Industrial gauges are often located on rooftops, underground, or in tight spaces — but they’re not out of reach of computer vision.

What’s new: The Okinawa startup LiLz Gauge provides a system that reads analog gauges and reports their output to a remote dashboard. The system is available in Japan and set to roll out globally in 2023.

How it works: The system automates inspection in places that have no computer network or power. It ties together remote units that integrate a camera, processor, cellular and Bluetooth connectivity, and a battery designed to last up to three years.

  • Users position the camera where it can see a gauge.
  • They can configure the algorithm to recognize a style of gauge — circular, rectangular, counter, or seven-segment alphanumeric — and its range of readings.
  • The algorithm extracts readings continuously or periodically and transmits them to a dashboard or via an API.

Behind the news: AI increasingly enables inspectors to do their jobs at a distance. For instance, drones equipped with computer vision have been used to spot damage and deficiencies in buildings, dams, solar and wind farms, and power lines.

Why it matters: Given the complexity of replacing some gauges, computer vision may be more cost effective than installing a smart meter. More broadly, industrial operations don’t necessarily need to replace old gear if machine learning can give it new life. Well-established machine learning approaches can be engineered to meet the needs of low-tech industries.

We’re thinking: This application looks like low-hanging fruit or computer vision. There’s ample room for clever engineers to adapt older practices with newer ways of doing things.


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