Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Interacting with Eyes: iTutor - a wireless and multimodal support to industrial maintenance activities

The aim of the I-EYE project was to develop new, natural forms of interaction for multilingual applications, and to evaluate their usability.

The product characterization for iTutor lies in supporting "just-in-time" standardized maintenance for performing, tracking, and monitoring maintenance activities close to any machine. In other words, the final product consists in a set of mobile on-line services for industrial maintenance.

Mainly, iTutor has been conceived as a multimedia application, which is able to provide information of various kinds by exploiting more natural human-machine interaction modes. iTutor has been developed by exploiting eye tracking and speech recognition for browsing information in several output modalities: audio, text, animation and video.

The general goal of iTutor is to support and ease decision-making in an industrial setting where a user must keep his/her hand free to work with the target. The multimedia information usually stored in the company’s information system (electrical and mechanical schemas, complete information on parts, maintenance procedures, parts availability, etc.) will be provided to maintainers as a response to natural eye fixations and speech requests.

Moreover, by using speech recognition or a wrist keyboard, the user himself is allowed to insert short notes about a machine or an intervention, to perform on-site checking of parameters values, to ask for help in real time if needed.

At present, iTutor can be looked at as an advanced prototype of a maintenance support system for industrial application. All the basic functionalities that such an application must offer have been identified, developed and integrated. Notwithstanding, from the performance and usability evaluation, which has been carried out in a real automotive plant with actual maintainers, clearly stood out that more functionalities should be added in future versions of iTutor. Moreover, in order to improve iTutor’s capability in fulfilling the end-users needs, the plant structure and the characteristics of the company’s specific workflow must be carefully taken into account. In other words, the presently available prototype of iTutor represents a robust kernel over which specialized and customized services can be built: we offer both the acquired expertise and the developed technology and system architecture to realize such services. The possibility of establishing joint venture relationships with interested end users and/or companies already involved in industrial maintenance-related activities will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

From a different perspective, further R&D activity is needed to make iTutor a worldwide leading edge product in the market of maintenance support systems. For instance, suitable functionalities for managing 3D contents in a context-aware virtual/augmented reality environment should be developed. To this end further funding has to be found and a partnership with companies/research centres already working in the VR/AR field might by sought. The evolution of iTutor that could be driven by further research will allow to investigate other market sectors and alternatives applications for the proposed technology, besides the industrial maintenance:
- Remote maintenance in dangerous or unhealthy areas

- Interactive and iterative evaluation of the usability, functionality and ergonomic characteristics of an environment directly during the design phase (architectural design, civil and naval engineering, space engineering);

- Hostile environment training course for people that could have to face unusual situation in difficult environmental conditions though being prepared and “used” to do it (nuclear disasters, fires, natural hazards, etc.);

- Virtual and customized tours of museum, archaeological sites, unusual and inaccessible environment, for educational purposes and cultural heritage dissemination.

Related information

Reported by

GIUNTI Interactive Labs S.r.l.
Via Portobello, Abbazia dell’Annunziata
16039 Sestri Levante
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