In an environment where new technologies seem to be emerging at the speed of light, the industry is focused on breaking through these developments and keeping pace with the benefits of working.
This is especially true with the adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology. But hot on the heels of AR and VR is extended reality (XR), which combines real and virtual environments using computers, wearables and more to collect and analyze data.
Paul Daley, senior eLearning specialist at ConocoPhillips, describes his company’s progress in applying emerging technologies as “feet in the water.” The impact and impact of COVID-19 has not helped progress.
“We had a proof of concept that was designed and built by 2019. Then came 2020,” Daley recalled. “No one had any appetite to tell the boss that it would cost a lot of money to figure this out. So the concept of that test did not proceed.
As COVID-19 has weakened, Daley said, things have changed.
“Efforts from the top, down” and “bottom up” working, where the “bottom up” existing organization to improve things, he explained. Daley joked that in a very extreme but practical way, “we’ll draw around this six and show you what happens if you cut off the fingers of a typed statement.”
“But they wanted to see if VR could make the experience more memorable because everyone had already seen 10 years of amputating fingers. This was a project that we had to push around the shop and the economic way to do it.
Daley said the company chose an “off-the-shelf” solution for their VR and XR needs, “which was a way to launch cost-effective development.”
In a “top-down” solution, Daley said the ConocoPhillips CIO who observed the advantages of VR “could check and do some development.”
Not ‘about all Benjamin’
There are several challenges to successfully bringing emerging technologies into the field alongside economic pressure.
Some of the challenges to introducing VR and XR, Daley said, “came down to bad timing. It’s about getting back to what he does, not what he doesn’t do, sometimes it’s just to learn,” he said with a laugh.
“We have this great technology and we want it to be developed. Even culturally, I mean, you’re in a training mindset and you’re still kind of afraid to see that for some reason,” said Daley. “You have to move past that, and it can be a ‘baby step’ kind of thing, because they want to take multiple choices, and sign and move.
When it comes to safety, XR technology allows managers to ensure that workers are properly performing tasks such as inspections, e/tags, and other duties related to safety, said Susan Spark, manager of learning technology at Schlumberger, XR technology.
“Measure the force with which they hold the iron, lest it bend; and they make much more gestures with the right hand. It’s a completely different mindset for the manufacturer,” he said during the XR Global Industrial Summit, recently held in Houston.
Spark observed that the concept of learning systems (LMS) was more than two decades old, and compared using an LMS to training a driver in a Formula One racecar.
“What you can measure in XR is even more so – that’s what we really need to worry about and have a discussion about data ethics and data privacy,” he concluded.