A lot has been said about augmented reality and how it is shaping the heavy industry amongst other industries as well. One of the key areas that this impact is being felt in is the realm of training and instructions. As AR provides a framework to shrink the gap between learning and application, the ways in which new staff learn, and existing staff can implement new knowledge is expanding.
In this article, we’ll outline some of the “big picture” ideas around augmented reality and its place in training and delivering instructions.
Manufacturer, Assemble, and Build With All The Tools at Your Fingertips
Beyond all the buzzwords and market speak, one of the most important and revolutionary aspects of augmented reality is that is places valuable and interactive resources right in front of the viewer in such a way that overlays those resources on the relevant real space.
We can see the obvious shift in focus from information and resources as external to a given situation, to co-existing aspects of that situation.
What do we mean by this?
Think about an instruction manual. Think about the most efficiently laid-out set of instructions to complete a given task. No matter how you re-interpret that instruction set and the media it is presented in, it’s probably the case that those instructions are going to exist outside of the process they represent. That’s because:
- Instructions are typically presented as text and images on paper or a computer screen.
- Instructions have to represent a process that should happen over time, imposing a specific frame of reference for how something is done.
- Instructions pull our attention away from the thing that they teach us to do, highlighting significant gap between learning/reference and doing.
Augmented Reality tools integrate with portable computers or wearables and shrink the gap between reference or teaching and doing by providing information within the actionable context that it happens. Simply put, engaging with a process or object brings forth the information that you need.
Interactive Visual Guides
This provides a huge opportunity to re-think the instruction manual or training guide. Think about it this way:
- Employees need training–
- New employees need introductory training.
- Existing employees need recurring training on new machines or technologies.
Traditionally, you would purchase or produce reams of training materials and reference guides. You might have physical paper copies, or digital files, or both. But you will have a whole host of materials to reference. Now, instead of putting that back in a hard drive or a filing cabinet or learning management system, consider how much more effective it would be for relevant staff to access that data in the field. And that’s wonderful, because you’ve already bridged a significant gap between information and action – specifically, that we separate learning from actual process that it represents. But now staff have to translate instructions and diagrams into a workable solution for the task at hand, whatever that may be. Even with documents side-by-side, this requires a certain break of concentration.
But now imagine that, instead of reading an instruction manual, an employee has a special set of glasses on. As they look over a piece of machinery, information begins to cross their field of vision. It might be helpful information about a specific piece of that machine, or a set of steps for operating it.
The best thing about this situation is that the information presented is:
- Presented in real time, over-laying the existing machine
- Up-to-date with relevant data from a database or from the environment.
So the information presented is always current, and relevant to what the employee is looking at right at that moment.
Integrate On-Site Instruction Into Industrial Training
One of AR’s best uses is as a training application. Augmented Reality devices are advancing at such a quick pace that it is quickly becoming the norm for AR hardware and software to account for conditions as they unfold in real time.
What does this mean for training, especially in industrial or manufacture settings?
- New employees can be trained in the field, with in-class or LMS learning optional. As employees interact with the objects and processes that define their work flow, they can leverage information in real time. The distinction between their workplace and their learning space becomes non-existent.
- Training can happen in real time. The time-based movement from training to practice to expertise shrinks as knowledge is implemented within the context that it applies to.
- Instructions and training guides aren’t distinct from the processes that they represent. They overlay over them in such a way that data works hand-in-hand with the employees to help them train.
- As new techniques, technologies, and processes work their way into a given industry, then this in-the-field information can be updated, ensuring that the most current data is available.
Closing Thoughts: Revolutionize Staff Skills and Applications
It’s easy to see how AR is impacting training and instruction delivery. As experts in the field engage with more complex machinery and emerging technologies and building processes, the delivery of important information and intelligence is revolutionizing how they can turn that knowledge into real-world results for your company.
The impact of this kind of approach to training and instruction delivery is being felt in manufacturing, healthcare, and other logistical applications. The ability to train and develop staff in real-world environments is currently re-shaping how we think about on-boarding. More importantly, however, it also changes how companies structure their mission-critical operations. If staff can readily implement new information in real-time, then they can act more independently and with greater accuracy and effectiveness.
Augmented reality provides a new paradigm for training and education, one that is fundamentally going to shape how people learn and work on the job especially in the world of engineering.