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Use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in Industrial Training

Use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in Industrial Training

AR and VR are the new modality for industrial training and open up unprecedented operational efficiencies over training using physical classrooms, web conferencing, videos, and documents. Often the critical differences between AR and VR are blurred in the marketplace. the difference between the use of VR and AR in industrial training. This article discusses some of the key differences and applications of AR and VR in industrial training scenarios.

VR in Industrial Training

In virtual reality, a user is fully immersed in a virtual 3D space. The physical space is completely blocked by VR glasses. Physical experiences such as touch, hearing, and vision are simulated to create a fully virtual experience. The key features that help VR industrial training are 1:1 scale interactions with digital content such as digital product representations (digital twins) and a sense of presence created by avatars of others that share the virtual space and experience from remote locations over the internet. The VR experience offers a powerful tool for trainers trying to simulate the real-world experience that has limitations of access, repeatability, and speed of execution. A fully immersive VR training requires the use of VR headsets, such as Meta Oculus, Windows Mixed Reality HP Reverb G2, and the HTC Vive family of products.

Practical applications of VR in Industrial Training include

  • Simulation of training in hazardous physical conditions e.g. fire safety training, training with hazardous materials such as chemicals, radioactive substances, etc. 
  • Simulate the training experiences for inaccessible locations, for example
  • Training on expensive and difficult to handle equipment
    • Training with large equipments that are difficult to obtain for training purposes due to location constraints
    • Training with expensive equipments that are either difficult to keep as spare for training purposes
    • Training with mining equipment or deep sea excavation that are difficult to replicate in the near physical space.
  • Remote training and demonstration of facilities safety, operations, and maintenance.
  • Remote Product demonstration and training of industrial equipments to external stakeholders
  • Safety and compliance training, especially for operations in a controlled environment.

In all the above cases, the VR experience can eliminate the need for large groups of people to travel physically to see and get trained in one facility. VR experience can also give a significant advantage to enterprises in terms of time to market, increase employee productivity, and cost reduction.

AR in Industrial Training

In Augmented Reality (AR), the display of information or data happens overlays on the physical field of view of the user. This characteristic makes the application of AR different from Virtual Reality (VR). AR training takes advantage of visual instructions and visual navigation superimposed over physical objects. The difference also comes from hardware that is used for AR-related training. AR training makes extensive use of cameras and apps on mobile devices and smart glasses such as Microsoft hololens and pass-through VR headsets. 

Practical application of AR in Industrial Training

  • AR Maintenance and operations Training: 
    • Real-time information relay to train new operators on existing machinery with help of visual information overlay to train on the machinery or train existing operators on new machinery with limited trainers.
    • Training with digital mockups in a production environment to display full 3D models of machinery for which parts are under construction
  • AR for safety
    • Realtime Instant safety training with instruction displayed to onsite workers with the help of holograms. For e.g not to touch high current voltage displays with sound for conditional reinforcement.
  • AR for design & model training
    • Use of holographic projections for visualization of design steps for e.g. project the facility design over a half construction of physical models to train new workers
  • Interactive training for partners for sales and marketing
    • Remote interactive training for global partners to increase the market traction

In all the above cases, AR experience can’t eliminate the need for physical presence, it can give a significant advantage to the enterprises in terms of increasing productivity, cost efficiency, and employee engagement

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