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Services and Training through Augmented Reality

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Changing the way we train

A new system employing Augmented Reality techniques substantially enhances the training experience, taking it to a whole new level. The individual system components also represent significant technical progress and have considerable value as standalone products.

Digital Economy

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the overlay of graphics, sounds and other sensory information onto video displays. The video display can be a traditional video display unit (i.e. television or computer monitor), or for some applications it can be head-mounted (e.g. goggles). AR is not quite the same as virtual reality (VR), since it displays a mix of both real and virtual information. For this reason AR is often also referred to as mixed reality. One of the first applications of AR was for training, developed by Boeing in the early 1990s. European researchers are continuing this trend in the framework of the STAR project, sponsored by the Information Society Technologies Programme. STAR involved not only the academic community, but also a large number of industrial organisations with an eye to commercialisation of the final product. According to STAR Coordinator Dr. Artur Raczynksi, the goal of the system is to reduce the number of mistakes made by personnel performing advanced technical procedures. The procedures range from routine maintenance activities to repair of damaged components. How does AR make this possible? The different modules comprising the system provide additional information to the technician that normally is only available from manuals. This information can take the form of wiring diagrams, complex 3-D images, simple textual instructions, basically any number of formats. Exploitation of the system includes not only the final product, but also the various modules it comprises. 3D-CAD-reconstruction and 3D-rough-reconstruction modules enable easier creation of superior 3-D models of the work environment. An intelligent camera hand-over module chooses the best camera angle based on the quality of visual information provided. In addition, since AR can incorporate aspects of VR, software was developed to introduce virtual humans. A specially developed browser with tracking and rendering features makes this possible. Finally, two central components of the system, the workflow editor and player, allow the creation and easy editing of AR-enriched work environments. The results of STAR have meaning not only for training applications, but also for the military, medicine, tourism and personal entertainment industries just to name a few. The system achieves considerable added value in comparison with traditional techniques. The consortium is pursuing the exploitation of the entire system as well as the standalone components.

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