Can Augmented Reality Make People Faster at Their Jobs?

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A study by EPRI and Ameren Illinois offers a preliminary answer: yes.

Traditionally, utilities train line workers on tasks by providing paper guides and administering computer tutorials in an office, often months before completing tasks. As smart technologies are widely integrated with the grid, line workers must master more tasks, raising the question of whether traditional training is still adequate. A possible solution is just-in-time training. At the work site, technicians view tasks simulated in augmented realityaugmented reality (AR) apps minutes before performing the work.

To test this approach, EPRI and Ameren Illinois evaluated about 50 workers as they completed router installation and maintenance tasks. Ameren provided one set of workers with step-by-step instructions on paper cards. A second group used an AR app to train in the field. Using the app’s 3-D animations of the tasks, workers could rotate the router and read additional information about the various steps and best practices. Workers trained on the paper method took an average of 77 minutes to complete tasks while the AR-trained workers took an average of 37 minutes.

The study’s authors are careful to point out that this is an initial assessment. More extensive field studies of AR-based training are needed to more precisely characterize potential efficiency gains.

Key EPRI Technical Experts:

John Simmins, Micah Tinklepaugh
For more information, contact techexpert@eprijournal.com.

Artwork by James Provost