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What is Augmented Reality?

At Safer at Work, we are always looking at new ways to improve the learning experience for our course attendees. One of the challenges we face in GWO training is not only how to pass on life-saving information, but to prepare learners to be able to carry out their training in a wind turbine environment. One area we are exploring is AR. Do you know much about it and how could it be used in Wind Turbine training?

Augmented reality, or AR, is a sibling to the perhaps better-known field of Virtual Reality (VR).

Augmented reality uses technology (usually wearable such as a headset) to impose digital images, videos, or animations on top of real-world scenery. A good example that you may have heard of is Pokemon Go, a popular game originally released in 2016. In the game, which was designed for mobile devices, players were directed to real-world locations, where they would be able to see Pokemon through the app.

While virtual reality training has begun to become more widespread in recent years, augmented reality lags behind, so what are the benefits of augmented reality, and what are the difficulties?

Augmented reality gives training providers the ability to use real-world training aids, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) manikins, while also applying digital effects to improve the learning experience. Sticking with the First Aid example, a trainer could use augmented reality to digitally recreate a variety of wounds, and symptoms such as pale skin, sweating, and bruising, without having to spend a lot of time and energy in creating these same effects using make-up. These digital recreations can then be positioned onto a simulation dummy, which can be physically felt by the trainee so that they can practice bandaging and other first aid techniques. Using this method increases the realism of the training, allowing learners to move through a given training scenario.

The major difficulties of this technology are matching up the digital resources with real-world locations or aids, and the cost. Matching digital resources to real-world resources is usually achieved via the use of cards which the headset can scan, or via GPS. If there is no GPS signal, or the cards cannot be scanned, then the technology will not work. This is different from virtual reality, which is usually a self-contained program not reliant on these factors. The other, perhaps greater, barrier to the adoption of augmented reality is cost. It is costly to develop the programs, and costly to buy the hardware needed. However, if these barriers can be overcome, then there is nothing to stop augmented reality from becoming another useful tool in the training kit.

We are continuing to develop our Augmented Reality technology for future training opportunities, including identifying and treating specific illnesses within the first aid course and neutralising AR-generated fires. Stay tuned in the coming months to see how GWO and Safer at Work implement these features into their courses!

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