So-called extended reality (XR) technologies are enjoying great popularity in education. After all, it can be used to convey a wide variety of learning content in an extremely practice-oriented way. But how does this actually work? An overview.
Try it extended reality. It’s about studying: That’s why flight simulators have been around for almost as long as the aircraft itself. The first were built more than a hundred years ago and consisted of mobile platforms that could be used to simulate the most important flight movements. A seat, a joystick, a few ball joints: these were the beginnings of pilot training.
Immerse yourself in virtual learning worlds
Today, on the other hand, the first dry runs for young pilots feel much more realistic – not least because airlines are increasingly relying on so-called XR technologies for pilot training. XR stands for extended reality and combines different virtual technologies under one roof. In modern flight simulators, for example, virtual reality tools play a major role. This allows challenging situations such as storms or engine failures to be simulated realistically. The advantage: Those who have already familiarized themselves with the imponderables of airspace in a flight simulator will be much more familiar with the first real cross-country flights. To make such realistic experiences possible on the ground, you only need two things: VR glasses and a computer program that generates the desired environment. When the user puts on the VR glasses, he can immerse himself in this artificially generated environment and move freely in it virtually. In contrast to a film or video game, it is no longer an observer, but part of the scenery.
Augmented reality (AR): adding information to the real world
Next to extended reality, VR technologies enable immersion in virtual worlds, and augmented reality (AR) enriches reality with artificial elements. In concrete terms, this means that users remain in the real world, where they can perceive not only real information but also computer-generated information or content. In other words: VR technologies put the user in a virtual environment. AR, on the other hand, brings virtual objects into the real world.
Augmented reality technologies are also used for training purposes. For example, trainees with special glasses can safely work on virtual welding objects, as it is already the case with the training at TÜV Rheinland Academy. With the help of TÜV Rheinland, RWE Power has also simplified training for maintenance work on bucket wheel excavators and other heavy equipment using extended reality technologies – and can thus relieve operators of large equipment. To this end, maintenance personnel are trained via data goggles so that they can perform their tasks safely for people and the environment and effectively – even if their last assignment was a few months ago. Different levers and switches are visualized through the glasses in the form of holograms, functions of the switching elements in the driver’s cab are explained in detail, work processes are explained step by step. The application is not faded in statically in the image field, but blends seamlessly into the real environment. In the case of RWE, this means that the training of maintenance personnel not only takes place in the “classroom”, but thanks to XR also on the heavy equipment itself. The application, developed by TÜV Rheinland’s Digital Learning team, detects the shovel excavator’s driver’s cab and positions the hologram of each control element exactly where it should be. This enables maintenance personnel to find all the necessary levers and switches in no time at all and to apply the practical knowledge acquired by AR in practice without any problems.
Extended reality – an important trend in the teaching of technical skills
It is not for nothing that extended reality technologies are regarded as an important future trend in the education sector. They pave the way for location-independent and thus cost-effective training courses, are much more fun than conventional training courses and – most importantly – ensure that the practical transfer of theoretical learning content is successful. Accordingly, TÜV Rheinland Academy is currently consistently expanding its range of XR training solutions, for example in the area of forklift driving licenses or in the area of mobility and engineering. As the Chinese philosopher, Confucius says: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand“.