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.