Friday, February 24, 2023

Interactive technologies improving training, health and safety on the factory floor

Stephen Barnes, the Mixed Reality Lab Manager at Walton Institute (SETU).

THE applications of interactive technologies, particularly augmented and virtual realities, continue to increase globally as they appear across many sectors. While many are used to enhance customer experience, organisations are also turning to these technologies to improve their training and curtail their health and safety risks, while reducing costs.

Manufacturing, big pharma, utilities, engineering and food production all encounter a high risk of accidents on the factory floor and production lines, and are using technology to reduce and ultimately remove risk during training. Now, companies can access interactive technology research labs right here in Waterford.

Available in Waterford

Walton Institute, an internationally recognised ICT research institute based in South East Technological University, continues to enhance emerging technologies by developing applications to help established and new business owners adapt to current trends in industry.

Through funding provided by the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway Capital Equipment Call, industry testbeds and facilities are accessible in Walton Institute by industry partners wishing to undertake risk-free research and development to accelerate their digitisation roadmaps.

The current suite of testbeds located in Carriganore include a unique 3D digital photogrammetry lab, the only one of its kind in Ireland used for many applications, including digital twinning, an eTextiles and smart materials lab, and a satellite communications testbed.

The largest of these testbeds is the Interactive Technologies lab, a state-of-the-art mixed reality lab combining virtual and augmented reality headsets with human centric monitoring.

Examples of possible risks on a production line, created in virtual reality.

On the factory floor

Interactive technologies can transform education, training and awareness, while also monitoring movement, immersion, and interaction through a variety of technologies. The augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) equipment allows organisations to enhance their training delivery programmes by showing real-life simulations.

Traditionally, these scenarios are shown to staff via video or role play, however the scenario can now be created on an AR or VR headset allowing full immersion within the experience.

This benefits onboarding of new staff, upskilling existing staff, as well as facilitating a great team building experience. Immersive learning allows staff to witness how non-compliance with Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) can lead to devastating consequences of poor health, safety or inadequate practices on the factory floor and production line.

In addition, a full-body suit providing haptic feedback enhances the immersion through the sense of touch, receiving inputs from motion capture and biometrics, which provides users with the ability to assess performance in high intensity pressurised situations.

Creating an immersive experience

Walton Institute offer a structured feasibility assessment to support companies begin their journey of adapting immersive technologies. Their team of experts will help identify opportunities for integrating immersive experiences into a business workflow using the testbeds facilities. Upon completion, companies will receive:

1: Introduction to AR/VR – concepts and technology including spatial mapping, 360-degree footage integration, training.

2: Hands on demonstrations with AR/VR technology – including state of the art HMDs, haptics systems and full body scanner.

3: Collaborative session with a focused exploration of the benefits of AR/VR for the use case.

4: A detailed report of findings, additional use cases and an augmented reality demo showcasing the technology in use.

Contact [email protected] to discuss your structured feasibility assessment, or to learn more about applying immersive technologies to your manufacturing, pharmaceutical or engineering organisation.

For further information, visit

The Walton Institute is based at SETU’s West Campus at Carriganore.

Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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