Holographic images, massive displays and powerful computers: Monash’s futuristic new facility

By DAVID McALPINE, 
science editor

Monash University has launched a new facility filled with the latest technology to turn hard data into engaging, interactive experiences.

Housed in the state-of-the-art New Horizons building at Monash’s Clayton Campus, the Future Control Room demonstrates the control rooms that may be used by energy market operators in the future. It allows existing personnel from industry and the next generation of engineers to be trained using simulations or live data from Monash’s own campus micro-grid.

Associate Professor Tim Dwyer

Associate Professor Tim Dwyer, a leading Australian researcher in information visualisation, is fascinated by improving how to visualise data and complex networks.

“We research cutting edge techniques for turning data into pictures; pictures that are meaningful, pictures that people can make insights from and make decisions from,” he says.

“The idea is that we have set up a facility which is not just ready to run simulations and study how people manage energy networks currently but how they might do it in the future.”

Workstations with high resolution screens are surrounded by large wall-mounted displays of network data, with immersive augmented and virtual reality technology allowing unprecedented interaction with a “digital twin” of the electricity grid.

“Augmented reality is where you put on a pair of glasses and you have 3D graphics hovering around you.”

Assoc/Prof Dwyer says the next generation of control room technology will not only improve everyday network management but will be a crucial tool during outages and emergencies.

“All over Australia, out in the field while they are doing repairs, they will be able to see the state of the network. They can communicate almost holographically with the people in the control room and see what they see.”

“These are disruptive technologies that will change everything, not just the energy domain but all workplaces.”

This article was written by David McAlpine and originally published in print and online by Monash Energy Materials and Systems Institute (MEMSI).