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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and how they could impact workplace health and safety

By March 23, 2021 No Comments

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and how they could impact workplace health and safety.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are hot topics across many industries right now. A growing number of organisations are now seeing the benefits these relatively new technologies can bring in the medium to long terms.

In a recent report published by the Capgemini Research Institute 82% of companies currently implementing AR/VR say the benefits either meet or exceed their expectations.   

There is often confusion around these technologies: – What is AR/VR?

The Franklin Institute has created easy-to-understand definitions: –

  • Augmented Reality adds digital elements to a live view. This is usually achieved by using the camera on a smartphone or specially created glasses. Examples of Augmented Reality experiences include Snapchat lenses and the game Pokémon Go.
  • Virtual Reality implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world. VR devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard can transport users into several real-world and imagined environments e.g. into the middle of a squawking penguin colony or even onto the back of a dragon.

Is anything about to change?

Technology is changing at a rapid rate.  VR/AR technologies are no different.

The Capgemini Research Institute highlights companies like Ford that use VR to capture human movement during equipment assembly. As an example, motion sensors can re-engineer movement to decrease the risk of injury and increase productivity. As a result, Ford has reported a 70% drop in employee injuries.

What about the application of AR in workplace health & safety?

The opportunities for improving workplace health and safety through the use of Augmented Reality are growing. As well as training new industry recruits, there is a world of possibilities for how it might be used. Some examples include:

  • Heavy equipment operators could be alerted to hazard scenarios based on risk algorithms before they are exposed to the risk.
  • Risk assessments can be done in real time using algorithms based on hazard experience data.
  • Staff can be alerted to known hazardous areas through connected eyewear.
  • Procedures manuals could become a thing of the past. Instead, staff will use an iPad to view a piece of plant or equipment and see applicable procedures, risks and hazards in real time.

The use of AR in the workplace is growing; surgeons now employ it as a learning tool by using lenses and patient ‘dummies’, companies such as Walmart use AR to train employees during hands-on experiences without the risk of costly real-world mistakes, and designers can show complex designs to clients, to cite just a few examples.

Key Takeaway Points

  • AR/VR is now readily available and emerging at a rapid rate.
  • Immediate applications can improve workplace health & safety.

References 

Capgemini Research Institute – Augmented and Virtual Reality in Operations, 2018

[LinkedIn, “Toms River MUA – Esri ArcNews – 2019,” January 2019

The Detroit News, “Virtual Technology Streamlines Ford’s Manufacturing,” July 2015.

https://www.business.com/articles/best-augmented-reality-uses/, Jun 24, 2020

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