INDUSTRIAL WAYFINDING USING AUGMENTED REALITY: PART II
Design Interactive differs from other solutions because we leverage our expertise in human factors, ergonomics and psychology. We collaborate with talented software engineers to build solutions where situational awareness and safety are primary considerations, not simply the functionality of the system.
So what does this mean when it comes to designing a wayfinding application leveraging AR for industrial applications? It means starting from a human factors framework, evaluating ideas against safety requirements and choosing the functionality that optimizes situational awareness given the users’ context, not just what functionality seemingly provides.
Here are just a few considerations that should be made that promote safety in the industrial environment.
Real Time Path Casting and Safety: A common visual seen in AR wayfinding apps, a colorful line is drawn from the users’ position to a waypoint or destination. These often do not consider slip and trip hazards such as stairways. To promote safety, these visual casts of the path should recede when a user approaches a potential hazard. Easier to do when the hazard is static of course.
Visual Alerting to Traffic/Movement: My car tells me when I am too close to a static object when parking and screams BRAKE at me if I am approaching a vehicle too quickly. In an industrial setting vehicular traffic is common. Forklifts, commercial trucks and other ground vehicles demand our attention while not necessarily part of our primary task. A heads down solution should be a non-starter in these environments and a heads up solution that is cluttered, or does not alert me about moving objects, should be approached with trepidation. Using forward facing cameras becoming more ubiquitous of heads up devices or connecting to sensors installed on vehicles provide the technological capability to monitor movement within the environment.
Smart Personal Protective Equipment Reminders: If you have ever been a vendor for an energy or manufacturing firm, you often take your lead from your escorts on when and where PPE is required. Best bet is to always wear your PPE but the requirements may constantly change as a worker navigates a facility. Different types of hearing protection or gloves may be necessary depending on where in the facility you are or what task you are performing. The wayfinding should take a back seat and remind personnel to put on the PPE and grab the appropriate tool before they proceed. Although seemingly not inherent to wayfinding, an alert of this type is akin to the BRAKE message from my car. The worker is prevented from proceeding until they are in compliance.
Smart Distance Counters: Do I need to know how far I am from my next waypoint or the final destination? It may provide valuable information for a company to understand how far an employee walks between tasks if they want to understand how to design future jobs, workstations, and layout a facility, particularly if efficiency is critical. But do I need to see this information count down? It may be a visual distraction that detracts from situational awareness. This seems like functionality put in front of safety. We aren’t running a 5K where our time per kilometer is important or driving at high speeds where counting down distances prepares us for a maneuver. An interesting feature and an engineering challenge, but from a safety perspective possibly not a value added feature.
These are just three examples and the list could continue. DI has taken inspiration from the auto industry, gaming and air traffic control to create our own wayfinding solutions for industry. But the key has been to approach these solutions with a human factors and safety mindset to truly understand the user, the task and the environment before feature consideration.
The technology is here, today. We have an opportunity to improve safety by leveraging AR, so let’s not add to the casualties.
Design Interactive has been optimizing human performance at ludicrous speed since 1998. We develop innovative, engaging augmented and virtual reality training solutions and create biosignatures of human emotion, cognition and physical state that empower consumers. To learn more about how we can leverage technology to improve your business processes, contact us here.