How Honeywell hopes to train tomorrow's factory workers with an AR/VR simulator based on Microsoft HoloLens

A new AR/VR simulator from Honeywell uses Microsoft HoloLens to help train industrial employees and could even aid companies in closing the skills gap.

Teena Maddox: Honeywell has a new AR and VR simulator to train the industrial work force and help close the skills' gap. I'm talking to Youssef Mestari about this new headset. Youssef how does the new cloud-based simulation tool combine AR and VR for training employees?

Youssef Mestari: We create an immersive environment, which replicates a real situation. We train customers with an immersive experience. It's a learning-by-doing rather than classic learning methods, classroom-based training or learning-by-listening. It has a 70% to 80% knowledge retention after three months.

Teena Maddox: How does the tool work?

Youssef Mestari: We define a library of scenarios around specific assets or activity. Once defined, we inject that model into our platform and software bed (Honeywell property IP) and an operator can access that training from anywhere, connect to the platform, select the type of training, type of models, resulting in different ways to learn.

The first step to learn is the "show-me" mode, where procedures are revealed. The training mode, an assessment mode, is next. We also created a "help-me mode," the next step. We've created multiple level of difficulties in the same environment. The same scenario can be played with multiple layers of difficulty. It's learning through play, a perfect fit for Millennials.

Teena Maddox: Does it use Microsoft Hololens?

Youssef Mestari: Absolutely, yes. We leverage Hololens, which is augmented reality, and keeps a connection to the real world, a benefit. It doesn't create dizziness where your brain connects and the balance of your brain connects in the virtual world to keep your feet grounded, and therefore it doesn't create that dizziness after 20 minutes of learning. It keeps a connection to the real world; for example, you won't hit a piece of furniture you forgot about while wearing a virtual headset. It's safer and a better learning experience.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)Teena Maddox: Is this the future of work?

Youssef Mestari: Manufacturing, oil and gas industries are facing a mega trend for the next five-six years. There will be a retiring workforce, and 50% to 55% of this workforce will retire in the next five years. That's half the workforce in the oil and gas industry. Millennials back fill these positions. A shifting workforce and augmented reality can capture the retiring workforce's knowledge, the expertise, and give it back to the new generation, which wants to consume knowledge.

There's very little adherence and lower tenure of Millennials who go through classroom-based trainings, where they walk away with 600 slides and sit in a classroom for six days. Millennials want to learn in the moment, in the field, through new technologies, not unlike how they used to play video games. It's a perfect fit as more Millennials come into the marketplace.

Teena Maddox: How can this help close the skills gap?

Youssef Mestari: Skills insight reassesses the competency gap at an individual level, for which we define the learning and competency program, which is customized for the individual and train on specific gaps. Once needs are determined, models, through E-learning or Augmented Reality are designed. An evaluation determines the results and if the trainee can do the job in a real environment. If the plant is online, can the trainee conduct themselves in a safe and efficient way, or is more training needed to pass certification?

It's a very comprehensive solution to improve the workers' skills, as it ensures a better reliability and higher performance of the jobsite.

Also see:

​Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency AR/VR simulator with Microsoft HoloLens

Honeywell Connected Plant Skills Insight Immersive Competency AR/VR simulator

Photo credit: Honeywell

About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox