Living in a world where various complexities are overcome by technological advancements, the aerospace domain/industry is pushed to think of alternative remote training methodologies to equip their professionals with necessary theoretical and practical skills. Now at this juncture, augmented reality (AR) could be a real savior of both time and resources in terms of training the aerospace professionals. By now an array of questions like “what type of training, how effective can the augmented reality-based training be, what is the benefit, how is it going to help my organization?” should be in your thoughts. So, let us now take a look at the prospective explanations to your questions.
What is AR?
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are "augmented" by computer-generated perceptual information, ideally across multiple sensory modalities, including visual (vision), auditory (hearing), haptic (touch feedback), somatosensory (sensations such as pressure, pain, or warmth), and olfactory (smell). AR is related to synonymous terms, i.e., mixed reality (MR) or hybrid reality and computer-mediated reality.*
How can AR contribute to training sessions?
There are three proposed (levels of working) models which utilizes AR for providing effective, hands on “feel” like sessions to the trainee, i.e.,
- AR goggles (smart glasses technology)
- AR goggles with Smart tools
- AR goggles with Digital Twin
Smart glasses# are wearable computer glasses that add information alongside or to what the wearer sees. They have the ability for superimposing information onto a field of view, which is achieved through an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) or embedded wireless glasses with transparent heads-up display (HUD) or augmented reality (AR) overlay that has the capability of reflecting projected digital images as well as allowing the user to see through it, or see better with it. The AR-based training model can be depicted by the following diagrammatic representation as below:
AR goggles with smart tools:
Smart tools~ perform the same functions as regular manufacturing tools. However, they also have sensors, electronics, a processor, and a communications module. This enables them to be programmed with operation parameters. Hence, the digital working tool also addressed as smart tools can function in an integrated fashion along with the AR goggles using augmented reality technology-based training software. The smart tools can provide feedback to the trainee and also guide in an interactive AR-based environment enabled by the augmented reality glasses.
AR goggles with Digital Twin:
The training object itself can be projected as a virtual rendering or a Digital Twin+ of an actual aircraft component, e.g. an aircraft engine. Digital Twin refers to a digital replica of physical assets, processes, and systems that can be used for various purposes. Digital Twins make use of 3D modelling to create digital companions for physical objects. With Digital Twin, the trainee will be able to perform the training in a simulated environment using guidance via an interactive augmented reality technology-based environment provided by the AR goggles.
Benefits of the proposed AR-based training models:
- Quicker, focused training enabled by digital feedback
- Repeatability of the training or work routine due to the digital nature of the environment
- Reduction in need for presence of physical trainers as the system takes care of the feedback (assessment) and further guidance
- Reduction in need for actual aircraft equipment that would be needed to aid the training
- Elimination of the need for collocating training environments near actual facilities. (Training, anytime anywhere!)
Now the question that needs to be addressed is: ‘Why implement augmented reality technology-based training models for training aerospace professionals?’ Well the answer to this can be concisely put in the following words:
‘AR-based training models can provide a hassle-free remote training environment, with either minimal or nil physical impact to the actual training component while allowing for a quick and prompt assessment of the trainees via digital feedback.’