Takeaways from Turku ICT Week’s AR/VR event

Turku ICT Week is bringing all kinds of tech events to town this week, and I attended the AR/VR in work safety themed seminar on Tuesday. Here’s a short summary based on my notes for those who couldn’t make it or want it translated to English 🙂

First speaker was Jani Pihl from Kiwa Inspecta, a company that provides consulting, inspection, testing, certification and training services and employ almost 600 people in Finland. His talk was about how work safety has evolved from forcing physical safety equipment like safety goggles on people to taking proactive measures and changing people’s attitudes. Promoting a safe working culture requires less continuous supervision and produces better results.

Main aspects of developing work safety in 2019 are developing employees skills and mindset, and helping them find the right motivation and attitude. Other aspects that companies look for when investing in safety training include:

  • price
  • efficiency
  • reliability
  • flexibility
  • and filling their specific requirements

Building a culture of safety is the most effective way of promoting safety at work, but conventional methods usually struggle with this. An old method is to e.g. send employees to lectures where they sit down and listen to instructions, which can be pretty demotivating. VR could change this, or at least provide a powerful tool to support old fashioned training methods.

VR training offers an inspiring hands-on experience which helps learning reactive and/or routine operations. VR also allows repeating certain tasks without extra costs or use of resources. For example flight or boat simulations allow practicing without actually using fuel and employing a whole crew to do practice rounds.

However, it is important to remember that not everything should be replaced with VR. Just like with the introduction of online teaching, it’s important that we don’t start using it for everything just because the technology is new. Some things just sink in deeper if you learn them face-to-face from other human beings. Things to do with values or social interactions like customer service are good examples of stuff that face-to-face teaching is still most effective for. That’s why we need to think carefully about where to utilise VR.

Second speaker was Kaapo Seppälä from CTRL Reality that provides a platform for VR trainings. He talked a bit more about the benefits and qualities of VR training.

Benefits include:

  • If people learn things by following instructions, they become really good at following instructions rather than thinking for themselves. VR allows independent problem-solving and facilitates natural learning.
  • Hands-on learning is more effective than learning things only in theory.
  • VR enables repetition, automatic tracking of results and a modern learning experience.
  • VR is a safe alternative to organic learning in live environment (e.g. operating heavy machinery) where mistakes can be fatal.

VR learning apps can be divided into two categories: visual learning (e.g. making observations in VR) and learning by doing (e.g. operating expensive or dangerous machinery). And there are a few practical rules that you should consider when designing an app in either category:

  • App should have a strictly defined scenario that’s based on an actual need.
  • Any instructions and clues in the app should adapt to user’s actions. User must also be able to switch the instructions on and off at any time.
  • Instructions and clues must appear exactly in the right time.
  • UI must be task specific and as simple as possible.
  • Reseting a mistake or the whole exercise must be easy.
  • Repeating things and making mistakes must be allowed.
  • Consider building your app around a story to help user remember what was taught even after a long time.

Third speaker was Mika Luimula from Turku University of Applied Sciences that came to introduce the new AVR Turku Innovation and Competence Factory that will start working in Turku in early September 2019. The factory is an EU-funded project whose mission is to look for new markets that have been created by AVR technologies, facilitate research and bring companies and schools together in new projects.

The last speaker was Pasi Purramo from ADE that specialises in sales and training solutions, some of which they implement on VR. He focused on showcasing some of their VR training apps that included safety training in a power plant, warehouse safety training, doing engine maintenance and different installations. After the talks, we also had a chance to try out some of these apps. A very interesting day altogether 🙂