The Advantages of Augmented Reality Training in Technical Industries

The prevalence of wearable technology is on the rise, with analytics company GlobalData predicting that the wearable technology market will grow by 24.6% every year and be worth more than $169 billion by 2024. Smartwatches account for the majority of this growth at present, with fitness trackers coming in second, but there’s much more to wearable tech, especially as far as e-learning is concerned.

Smart glasses: the emerging wearable tech

Smart glasses are on the way to becoming commercially viable wearable tech – with Google Glass being one of the most successful attempts thus far. With the promise this technology holds, more and more companies are working to create cost-effective alternatives that are easily accessible to users.

Smart glasses are distinct from virtual reality (VR) headsets, which create entire 3D environments through which the user moves and interacts. Smart glasses superimpose information and images over the real-world environment in which users are present. This is known as augmented reality (AR).

AR’s role in industry-specific training

AR training has particular benefits for industries such as manufacturing or other technical fields. Working on a manufacturing floor requires precision skills and knowledge, with little room for error. With AR, learners can be trained in the use of production line tools without any risk. A multilayer overlay of the factory floor can be projected using AR goggles, allowing the learner to interact with machinery and components in a completely safe environment.

Headsets can provide real-time instructions and allow trainers to provide step-by-step feedback during practice. Trainees can learn faster and practice often as AR technology uses voice commands, images, and videos. It is also possible for learners to collaborate with each other as ideas can be shared through AR glasses.

AR allows manufacturing trainees to view the workplace or a piece of machinery in real-time with digitally superimposed training elements. This allows learners to interact directly with the environment while experiencing audio/visual instruction, instantaneous feedback on mistakes or incorrect movements, and digital labels of different parts of the machinery. For example, learners can use AR to scan a real-world engine, fixing a digital 3D model engine to it that learners can then safely disassemble and reassemble.

AR can help reduce errors in production, too. If learners use AR to conduct equipment or quality checks without needing to consult a manual or peer, they become able to assess and solve issues successfully and succinctly. AR also helps reduce the chance of injury. When training is required on a piece of potentially dangerous equipment or machinery, AR makes training safer and more efficient. If trainees can observe and virtually interact with said machinery before using it in real life, this prevents mistakes, improves efficiency and cuts down on the risk of injuries.

With AR, learners can receive one-on-one or one-to-many mentoring from subject matter experts or more experienced peers regardless of their location. Using wearable technology such as smart glasses with a camera, microphone and speaker, the learner and mentor can communicate as if they were right next to each other. The mentor can see from the perspective of the learner and provide feedback in real-time. This is also useful for assessments: the mentor can coach and correct mistakes instantaneously.

There are a number of other industries that are making use of AR in their training programmes. In the medical field, it’s difficult to get hands-on experience such as performing surgery without risk; but with AR medical students are able to learn about anatomy and practice procedures. The retail industry is also turning to AR for training purposes. Employees can access training on products by scanning them with their phones or AR glasses. Activities such as touring the sales floor are excellent for getting acquainted with the job.

General benefits of AR training in workplaces

AR in the workplace can enhance the learning and comprehension of trainees of all competency levels. Here are some of the general benefits of AR training in the workplace.

Higher engagement: People learn by doing, and AR allows for hands-on, interactive learning. With physical devices such as headsets, workers can practice activities in real-time at their own speed. They can scan products to learn more without the distractions of customers or managers, leading to greater absorption of information.

Safety: Danger can be an inherent part of some job situations. With AR, learners can develop new skills without being exposed to real-life harm. Wearable tech provides a danger-free environment for learners to practice in.

Costs: The initial investment in wearable tech may be high, but the equipment is reusable and shareable across the workforce. In the long run, AR technology can save money on expensive seminars and in-person classes.

Lower learning curve: On-the-job training can be daunting at times. AR allows newcomers to gain a firm understanding of how the job is supposed to work and how to react when things don’t work smoothly. The learning curve is less intense as there is less pressure to perform, and the pace of learning is more manageable.

Mobility: AR is completely mobile-friendly. A programme can be loaded onto a phone, tablet, or smart glasses, and taken around the workplace with ease.

AR technology is growing and has a lot of potential in the learning space. Wearable tech used for training has many advantages across many industries, particularly in manufacturing. It is a powerful instrument in safely training employees and boosting production efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is wearable technology?
A: Wearable technology encompasses devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and smart glasses that users can wear. These devices are often connected to the internet and offer various functionalities, from tracking health metrics to providing augmented reality experiences.

Q: How is the wearable technology market growing?
A: The wearable technology market is experiencing significant growth, with a projected annual increase of 24.6%. By 2024, it is expected to be valued at over $169 billion, primarily driven by the popularity of smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Q: What are smart glasses?
A: Smart glasses are wearable devices that overlay digital information onto the real world, enhancing user interaction with their environment without fully immersing them like virtual reality (VR) headsets. Google Glass is one of the pioneering examples in this category.

Q: How does augmented reality (AR) benefit industrial training?
A: AR provides immersive, risk-free training environments for industries requiring precision, such as manufacturing. Trainees can interact with digital overlays of tools and environments, receive real-time instructions, and practice safely, which helps improve learning efficiency and reduce errors and injuries.

Q: Can AR be used outside of industrial settings?
A: Yes, AR is also being used in fields like medicine and retail. Medical students can practice procedures via AR without the risks associated with live surgeries, and retail employees can learn about products and store layouts through AR-enhanced training tools.

Q: What are the general benefits of AR in training?
A: AR training offers numerous benefits including higher engagement levels, safety, cost-effectiveness, a lower learning curve, and mobility. It allows trainees to practice tasks at their own pace with less pressure, reducing the costs associated with traditional training methods.

Q: How does AR enhance workplace safety?
A: By enabling trainees to practice with virtual models of machinery and equipment, AR reduces the risk of accidents and injuries associated with training on potentially dangerous equipment.

Q: What makes AR cost-effective in training programs?
A: The reusability of AR devices and digital training materials can lead to significant savings over time, compared to the costs of traditional, in-person training sessions and materials.

Q: How does AR fit into mobile and flexible learning environments?
A: AR technology is adaptable to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, making it a versatile tool for on-the-go training across various settings. This portability is key in adapting to flexible, modern workplace learning environments.

Written by Rob Ewart


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