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Alexandria, Va,– Point Semantics Corporation (PSC), a startup machine vision strain metrology company, demonstrated its structural health monitoring (SHM) prototype for the first time in public on June 18, 2019 at TheGarden.

The demonstration coincided with 3D printing training for U.S. Marines. As a capstone project for their training, pairs of Marines designed, 3D printed, and tested micro scale bridges. They competed for which team could build the strongest bridge. PSC demonstrated how its prototype automatically, and in real time, detects damage using remotely positioned video cameras.     

 Brad Pantuck focuses a video camera on reference targets on the bridge. 3D printers pictured in background.
Brad Pantuck focuses a video camera on reference targets on the bridge.
3D printers pictured in background.

PSC’s plans to adapt and ruggedize the technology to enable real time health monitoring of bridges leading to increased safety.  According to the American Society of Civil Engineers more than 9.1 percent U.S. bridges were structurally deficient in 2016, and on average there were 188 million trips across a structurally deficient bridge each day. 

"Today’s demonstration was a significant milestone for our company,” said PSC President Brad Pantuck.  “It was the first time we showed the community what our product can do.  Our technology has the potential to mitigate our country’s aging bridge problem.”       

The demonstration setup included positioning each bridge in a load frame, which was used to apply a loading force to the bridge, emulating an actual load imparted by traffic on a bridge.  A camera positioned five feet from the micro scale bridge focused on fiducial targets attached to the bridge at locations of expected high strain.   

During bridge loading, PSC’s prototype tracked the targets’ relative movements and showed a real time graph of strain in the bridge over time.  Damage depends directly on strain; measuring strain enables the computation of instantaneous stiffness reduction due to this damage. 

“Point Semantics has made a lot of progress since it licensed this technology,” said Amanda Horansky McKinney, head of U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (US-NRL) Technology Transfer Office, who was present for the demonstration.  “The ability to monitor the health of infrastructure in this manner, based on licensed NRL software, would be a great benefit to the transportation sector.”


Video produced by Building Momentum of Alexandria, Virginia.

 Common instrumentation currently used for assessing bridge health include inclinometers, acoustic emission sensors, and strain gauges.  PSC’s methods differ in that they will not contact the infrastructure; structural information about the bridge would be collected by computer vision sensors positioned hundreds of yards away.  Other advantages the company touts include ease of setup and increased safety. 

“Our system won’t replace the need for humans to periodically visit bridges. But it will reduce risk between inspections by immediately flagging anomalies.  And it’ll save inspectors’ time by showing them which parts of the bridge are weak and need closer inspection.”

A U.S. Marine applies force to the bridge using a hand pump. Point Semantics’ software, seen on the monitor behind,
shows a video feed of the movement of the reference targets and acquires strain information.

About Point Semantic Corporation
PSC was formed in 2015 to commercialize high performance full field strain measurement and imaging technology developed by the US-NRL. Its mission is to change the way industry performs mechanical tests and assesses the structural integrity of its infrastructure assets.