S. Hobert, J. Decker, M. Schumann

University of Goettingen (GERMANY)
As a result of the demographic change – especially in Europe – companies are facing challenges to retain the employees’ empirical knowledge within the company. In addition to that, continuous learning is required in many working areas to be able to deal with constant technological improvements. This is especially important for companies in the high-tech sector, in which employees are dealing with state of the art technologies. As an example, employees in industrial production facilities (like in the car industry) need to improve their skills whenever new components are added to the manufacturing process. Therefore, they can hugely benefit from learning on the job.

Learning on the job while working in a production facility allows the employees to extend their knowledge at the same time and at their current location when they require it. This usually takes place in a situational context, i.e. the context of the learner is related to the learning content. An example for situated learning on the job in manufacturing is an industrial mechanic who looks up instructions for the next production step. In contrast to off-the-job training the learning content is adjusted to the learner’s current context.

Augmented reality learning is one solution which can be used to enable situated learning on the job. This can be achieved by the use of wearable computers (wearables). As wearables are worn by the user and as such portable, always operational and allow a hands-free use, they can be used by employees in many situations when learning content is required. Furthermore, wearables can analyze the environment and its’ surrounding context using build-in sensors (like GPS and Bluetooth for localization or image sensors for pattern matching) to provide situational learning content. This could even be done proactively, i.e. the wearable notifies the employee about relevant learning materials on its own.

The main goal of this paper is to determine how learning in manufacturing companies can be supported using augmented reality learning on wearables. Therefore, we will first focus on identifying application scenarios in industrial production facilities which can benefit from using augmented reality learning to enhance the employees’ skills on the job. Besides the identification of scenarios, we present a working prototype for smart glasses which is targeted at employees in industrial production facilities for supporting learning on the job. It can be used for displaying learning content which is linked to real objects or locations using Bluetooth low energy. The prototype is developed for running natively on Google Glass.

The results of this paper – the identified applications scenarios and the developed prototype – can be used as a basis for further research and for developing and deploying augmented reality learning applications in companies.