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.
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.