Education and training

Virtual environments for effective learning

Education and training

Virtual environments for effective learning


Two of the envisaged “killer applications” for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality are indeed education and training. Applications of these technologies are regarded as being capable to make the education and training processes significantly more effective, by improving engagement and fostering active participation.

For instance, they can allow users to immerse themselves in highly realistic environments and scenarios that would normally be dangerous to learn in, such as a burning building, or difficult to simulate, such as a critical event during a surgical operation. Unlike some traditional instruction methods, solutions based on the above technologies can offer consistent education delivery that do not vary from instructor to instructor. Quality virtual representations and seamless human-computer interaction also afford the development of psychomotor skills and the study of users’ behavior under given conditions. This is especially important when resources that can be devoted to education and training are limited or extremely costly, e.g., because of impact related to the interruption of normal operations.

However, the quality of outcomes that can be achieved through the introduction of these technologies is strongly linked to the so called “ecology” of the virtual experience, i.e., to the extent to which it is capable to mimic the real one.


Based on the above considerations, the aim of VR@POLITO is to deeply investigate technical issues influencing the effectiveness of virtual education and training, and to design and develop suitable solutions to such issues by considering, e.g., the quality of 3D graphics, the naturalness of human-machine interaction, the interactivity of simulations, etc.

From a non-technical point of view, pedagogical, psychological, sociological and perceptual aspects also needs to be taken into account in a user-centered perspective, in order to ensure that technological outcomes actually match both instructors’ and learners’ capabilities and needs.


At VR@POLITO, the results of “transversal” research activities mentioned above are being applied to a number of “vertical” use cases that span heterogenous domains encompassing, among others, Industry 4.0 scenarios, medical practice, emergency situations and sport.

For instance, concerning the industrial domain, activities are in progress in the context of a project funded by Regione Piemonte and in collaboration with Brembo S.p.a. with the aim to create a platform supporting the training of operators of a robotic production line. Further details are available on the website of the Polo di innovazione della Regione Piemonte dedicato alla Meccatronica e ai Sistemi Avanzati (MESAP).

Concerning the medical fields, activities are being carried out targeting both professionals and users. Thus, one the one side, works have been developed in collaboration with the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology, Canada focusing on the interaction within hospital environments (like surgical rooms). On the other side, works have been carried out to developed tools for self-training in the considered domain, by targeting specifically Basic Life Support Defibrillation Training. A work on this subject has been presented at the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH 2018), in collaboration with SIMNOVA, the Simulation Center in Medicine and Health Science, Novara, Italy and Logosnet.

Training of professionals has been addressed also in a study carried out in collaboration with SiTI – Istituto Superiore sui Sistemi Territoriali per l’Innovazione (SiTI) concerning the training of emergency personnel involved in fire events. Work has been presented at the  Eurographics 2018 conference (EG2018).

The sport domain has been addressed as well, with two works in collaboration with the the youth team of the Cus Auxilium Torino basketball. In both cases, the goals was to study how Virtual Reality could be exploited to help improving athletes’ preparation. To this purpose, in the first work a platform has been developed to let coaches interactively create and modify game tactics, which can be then visualized simultaneously by multiple players wearing Virtual Reality headsets into an immersive 3D environment. Work has been presented at the 4th Workshop on Everyday Virtual Reality (WEVR 2018) in the context of the 25th IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR 2018). In the second work, immersive Virtual Reality and wearable sensors have been used in combination to let players study arm and body movements and improve free throws through a comparisons with virtual avatars showing the correct movements. Work has been presented at the 4th International Conference on Virtual Reality (ICVR2018).

Finally, a number of activities have been carried out in the field of education, by considering a number of approaches and technologies, including, among others, gamification techniques and robotics. Some of works developed by VR@POLITO have been presented at the IEEE Games, Entertainment, and Media conference (GEM2018) and at the 37th IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE2018). Other activities are in progress in collaboration with Xké? Il laboratorio della curiosità, Torino and the Department of Architecture and Design (DAD) aimed at the creation of a technology-enhanced experience for offering children a new way for learning based on projected Augmented Reality.



Title A movement analysis system based on immersive virtual reality and wearable technology for sport training / Alberto, Cannavò; Filippo Gabriele Pratticò, ; Giuseppe, Ministeri; Fabrizio, Lamberti. (In press), pp. 1-6. Proc. 4th International Conference on Virtual Reality (ICVR2018), Hong Kong, February 24-26, 2018.
Abstract The use of virtual reality (VR) is widespread in a growing number of application domains. Continuous technological advancements in the field of computer graphics made VR an interesting tool for learning purposes, especially in sport. Examples can be found in different sports such as rugby, baseball, soccer, golf, etc. This paper presents a VR-based training system that can be used as a self-learning tool to improve the execution of a given technical gesture. In particular, the basketball free throw gesture is considered. To assess the usefulness of the proposed system, experimental tests were carried out in a small-scale setup by involving 18 non-skilled volunteers. Results demonstrated that the designed system can improve the execution of the considered gesture in terms of both timing and spatial positioning compared to an alternative technique based on video projection.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title A participative system for tactics analysis in sport training based on immersive virtual reality / Cannavo', Alberto; Musto, Marco; Prattico', FILIPPO GABRIELE; Raho, Francesco; Lamberti, Fabrizio. (In press), pp. 1-4. Proc. 4th Workshop on Everyday Virtual Reality (WEVR 2018) - 25th IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (IEEE VR 2018), Reutlingen, Germany, March 18-22, 2018.
Abstract The use of new technologies is becoming a common practice in many competitive sports, from soccer to football, basketball, golf, tennis, swimming, etc. In particular, virtual reality (VR) is increasingly being used to cope with a number of aspects that are essential in athletes’ preparation. Within the above context, this paper presents a platform that allows coaches to interactively create and modify game tactics, which can be then visualized simultaneously by multiple players wearing VR headsets into an immersive 3D environment.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Arm swinging vs treadmill: A comparison between two techniques for locomotion in virtual reality / Calandra, Davide; Bill, Michele; Lamberti, Fabrizio; Sanna, Andrea; Borchiellini, Romano. (In press), pp. 1-4. Proc. Eurographics 2018, Delft, The Netherlands, April 16-20, 2018.
Abstract When it comes to locomotion in Virtual Reality (VR), a wide range of different techniques has been proposed in the scientific literature or as commercial products. However, the best choice for a specific application is still not immediate, being each technique characterized by different advantages and drawbacks. The present work reports on the results of a user study-based comparison between two methods: a locomotion treadmill, which supports omni-directional movements through walking in place over a hardware device, and Arm Swinging, which recognizes movement from the swinging back and forth of the user's arms (e.g., gathered by sensors embedded in hand controllers). Experiments have been carried out in a realistic immersive VR scenario, which requested users to respond to a fire emergency in a road tunnel by moving and interacting with the environment.
Related projects or activities: Human-machine interaction, Education and training
Title Asteroid Escape: A serious game to foster teamwork abilities. Prattico', Filippo Gabriele; Strada, Francesco; Lamberti, Fabrizio; Bottino, Andrea Giuseppe (In press), pp. 1-4. Proc. 40th Annual Conference of the European Association for Computer Graphics (Eurographics 2019), Genova, Italy, May 6-10, 2019.
Abstract skills have become a fundamental asset in the labor market. Modern organizations are increasingly implementing team building activities, aimed to improve or assess their employees' skills. Research suggests that serious games could be promising tools capable to support the creation of engaging and effective team building experiences. However, the design and development of serious games targeting these activities is still sparse and requires further investigation. This work introduces \emph{Asteroid Escape}, an immersive serious game for team building, whose design was based on theoretical models on teamwork effectiveness. Although conducted on a restricted user sample, preliminary experiments suggest that tools like the devised one could positively contribute to ongoing research and implementation efforts targeting the exploitation of technology-enhanced learning methods for the development of teamwork skills and, more in general, of so-called soft skills.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Automatic recognition of sport events from spatio-temporal data: An application for virtual reality-based training in basketball / Cannavo', Alberto; Calandra, Davide; Lamberti, Fabrizio. - In: 14th International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications (GRAPP 2019)
Abstract Data analysis in the field of sport is growing rapidly due to the availability of datasets containing spatio-temporal positional data of the players and other sport equipment collected during the game. This paper investigates the use of machine learning for the automatic recognition of small-scale sport events in a basketball-related dataset. The results of the method discussed in this paper have been exploited to extend the functionality of an existing Virtual Reality (VR)-based tool supporting training in basketball. The tool allows the coaches to draw game tactics on a touchscreen, which can be then visualized and studies in an immersive VR environment by multiple players. Events recognized by the proposed system can be used to let the tool manage also previous matches, which can be automatically recreated by activating different animations for the virtual players and the ball based on the particular game situation, thus increasing the realism of the simulation. less
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Designing interactive robotic games based on mixed reality technology / Lamberti, Fabrizio; Cannavo', Alberto; Pirone, Paolo. (In press), pp. 1-4. Proc. 37th IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE2019), Las Vegas, USA, January 11-13, 2019.
Abstract This paper focuses on an emerging research area represented by robotic gaming and aims to explore the design space of interactive games that combine commercial-off-the-shelf robots and mixed reality. To this purpose, a software platform is developed which allows players to interact with both physical elements and virtual content projected on the ground. A game is then created to show designers how to maximize opportunities offered by such a technology and to build playful experiences.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Holo-BLSD – A holographic tool for self-training and self-evaluation of emergency response skills / Strada, Francesco; Bottino, Andrea Giuseppe; Lamberti, Fabrizio; Mormando, Giulia; Luigi Ingrassia, Pier. In: IEEE Transactions on Emerging Topics in Computing. ISSN 2168-6750 (In press), pp. 1-14.
Abstract In case of cardiac arrest, prompt intervention of bystanders can be vital in saving lives. Basic Life Support and Defibrillation (BLSD) is a procedure designed to deliver a proficient emergency first response. Developing skills in BLSD in a large part of the population is a primary educational goal of resuscitation medicine. In this context, novel computer science technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can alleviate some of the drawbacks of traditional instructor-led courses, especially concerning time and cost constraints. This paper presents Holo-BLSD, an AR system that allows users to learn and train the different operations involved in BLSD and receive an automatic assessment. The system uses a standard manikin which is quotes{augmented} by an interactive virtual environment that reproduces realistic emergency scenarios. The proposed approach has been validated through a user study. Subjective results confirmed the usability of the devised tool and its capability to stimulate learners' attention. Objective results indicated no statistical significance in the differences between the examiners' evaluation of users who underwent traditional and AR training; they also showed a close agreement between expert and automatic assessments, suggesting that Holo-BLSD can be regarded as an effective self-learning method and a reliable self-evaluation tool.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Mobile robot-based exergames for navigation training and vestibular rehabilitation / Lamberti, Fabrizio; Cannavo', Alberto; Pirone, Paolo; Montuschi, Carla; Albera, Roberto (In press), pp. 1-8. Proc. 9th IEEE Annual Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics & Mobile Communication Conference, New York, NY, USA, November 8-10, 2018.
Abstract The vestibular system is the leading sensory system that contributes to the sense of balance and to spatial orien- tation for the purpose of movement coordination. Vestibular disorders are incredibly common, and exhibit many different symptoms including vertigo, unsteadiness and navigation issues, but also emotional and social problems. Many of the assessment, training and rehabilitation approaches developed so far cannot guarantee the necessary degree of usability, measurability and repeatability. This paper presents the preparatory steps towards the design of a methodology for treating vestibular disorders that combines established methods with innovative, robot-based exergames to foster, among others, engagement and flexibility. Preliminary results obtained through a user study that involved non-pathological subjects offered helpful indications that could be exploited in the design and validation of novel rehabilitation protocols in the field.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title Robotic gaming and user interaction: Impact of autonomous behaviors and emotional features / Lamberti, Fabrizio; Pratticò, Filippo G.; Calandra, Davide; Piumatti, Giovanni; Bazzano, Federica; Villani, Thiago R. K. (In press), pp. 1-8. Proc. IEEE Games, Entertainment, and Media (GEM 2018), Galway, Ireland, August 15-17, 2018.
Abstract This paper aims to investigate the impact associated with the introduction of emotional features and autonomous behaviors in robotic games leveraging drones. To this purpose, a game named Protoman Revenge incorporating the above elements is implemented by following known guidelines regarding game design, in general, and so-called Physically Interactive Robotic Games (PIRGs), in particular. A user study is devised to evaluate how the above traits affect the individual’s experience and engagement. Obtained results could be possibly exploited to orient further research in the field of robotic gaming and other applications (not necessarily involving drones) w.r.t. to the perception of robot’s autonomy and of emotional encoding strategies.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title RobotQuest: A robotic game based on projected mixed reality and proximity interaction / Lamberti, Fabrizio; Calandra, Davide; Bazzano, Federica; Prattico, Filippo G.; Destefanis, Davide M. (In press), pp. 1-4. Proc. IEEE Games, Entertainment, and Media (GEM 2018), Galway, Ireland, August 15-17, 2018.
Abstract The appearance of video games in modern society introduced a number of modifications in the recreational and socialization habits of both youths and adults. In particular, various studies have associated the excessive use of this media with health and social problems, being the “classical” video game often a sedentary and solitary activity. The purpose of this work is to propose a possible way to deal with the above issues, which consists in exploiting a platform for robotic gaming based on consumer hardware that is being developed with the aim to reintroduce the physical and social dimensions in digital games. The proposed solution encompasses a floor-projected Mixed Reality (MR) environment, an autonomous toy robot and a set of tangible interfaces created using proximity beacons, which are combined in a robotic game concept named RobotQuest that is meant to show how to favor an engaging room-scale interaction between players and real/virtual game elements.
Related project or activity: Education and training
Title VR@Polito: the virtual reality initiative of Politecnico di Torino – the experience of the Virtual tour for foreign students / Castaldo, U.; Conti, F.; Lamberti, F.; Mezzalama, M.; Venuto, E. Proc. BYOD, realtà aumentata e virtuale: opportunità o minaccia per la formazione? Reggio Calabria, Italy, May 16-17 2019 (2019), pp. 63-66.
Abstract Immersive content overcomes traditional multimedia one-way communication, encouraging visitor participation, combining 360° visuals with interaction and movement. Virtual Tours evoke emotions in a virtual reality, augmented with additional multimedia information: an amplified experience where the prospect student not only sees the place but he or she feels to be there and can p
Related project or activity: Education and training

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