What if you could be an expert at anything? In one scene in the film, The Matrix, the characters Trinity and Neo encounter a helicopter, but neither of them knows how to pilot it. Trinity phones Tank and requests a pilot program for a B212 helicopter. Within seconds, the knowledge is transferred, and they are in the air.
We’re not at the point where complex work instructions can be downloaded directly into our brains, but with technologies like the cloud, Internet of Things, and spatial computing, we can deliver something close.
Our recent webinar with Taqtile, an independent software vendor that builds augmented and virtual reality solutions for industrial organizations, covers how Unity-supported “spatial computers” like Microsoft HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap One are changing how tasks and related data for frontline workers are visualized, taught, learned, and performed.
There is a major skills gap in the industrial workforce: In the U.S. alone, half of the skilled manufacturing jobs are unfilled. There are fewer applicants applying for these skilled jobs, and when they do they frequently lack the required skills.
In an age where job applicants are “digital natives” who have grown up with the internet, savvy organizations are rethinking their approach to empowering the incoming front-line workforce. AR-enabled training and maintenance provides a heads-up, hands-free way to get up to speed, with contextual data access when and where they need it.
Over-the-shoulder coaching on-the-job is key to learning how to perform critical tasks, and with spatial computing and an IP connection, those mentors don’t even need to be in the same room as their mentees. Experts can “see” through the eyes of the worker and guide them along with live two-way communication and the ability to understand and interact with the remote environment. This is ideal when you have a persistent data connection and an expert is available to help out.
Another approach is to use stored work procedures for task guidance and on-the-job training. In many situations, this may be far more flexible and feasible as compared to a live remote expert since it doesn’t rely on the connectivity to, and availability of a remote expert. Expert knowledge can be made available “on-demand” to help workers complete complex tasks.
In the webinar, Taqtile shared the story of the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, which experienced a catastrophic failure in 2017 that resulted in untreated sewage spilling into the Puget Sound. The audit findings indicated that a lack of adequate training was likely a contributor to the extent of the failure. To address these concerns, the county revamped its training program with AR at the center: