How Google Glasses can be used for mine and construction training

April 24, 2013  |  News & Trends

Google Glasses for mine and construction trainingGoogle Glasses may soon revolutionize the way training is delivered in the mining and construction industries. Here's an early look at what they may make possible.

Google Glasses are wearable computing devices that display information on a tiny screen in front of the user's eye - something like the translucent "heads up displays" used in the cockpits of modern aircraft. It enables wearers to transmit and receive audio and video, and to display web content any time, anywhere (read more background information about Google Glasses here).

Training applications of Google Glasses

Here are some of the potential training applications of Google Glasses that we envision could develop over the next several years:

Delivery of training: The glasses will also have 12 GB of usable memory, synced with Google's cloud storage. That means training could be delivered any time, anywhere. Courses could be stored on the glasses, which could communicate wirelessly with an LMS to track student progress.

Coaching: Google Glasses will be able to shoot pictures and record videos, using only voice commands. Real-time video could be very useful for just-in-time coaching. For the first time, the coach could see what's happening in the cab of the machine - from the student's viewpoint and vice versa. Imagine how this could transform "talk out loud performance," where the coach explains what he or she is doing at the moment, he or she is performing a task with a machine. This technology could also be used for confined space entry training, where the instructor could transmit video and audio to students above ground, explaining safe work practices for these potentially dangerous environments. The coach wouldn't even need to be in the same location as the student. That's revolutionary!

Instant advice on machine problems: Google Glasses enable you to ask questions and get answers from a Siri-like personal assistant, which can be invoked by asking natural-language questions. This functionality could someday be extended to query machinery problem-solving databases. For example, "My haul truck's instrument panel is telling me I have low tire pressure. What should I do now?"

Display relevant information to the trainee: Another possibility for the intelligent assistant software is that it could listen to what the student is saying and could serve up relevant information on the screen of the glasses - such as an animation demonstrating how to back into a shovel on the blind side of the haul truck, for example.

Performance support: Google Glasses could have many possibilities in terms of performance support. Imagine a repair technician, viewing a step-by-step process on how to replace a component on a machine as he performs the task. Another potential application is for teaching trainees how to perform walk-around inspections. As the circle the machine, a training program could be projected onto the glasses, telling them what they should be looking for and showing them what a component should look like in good condition and when it needs repair.

Dealing with a multi-language workforce: Longer term, Google Glasses could translate what the person talking to you is saying and speak it back to you in your native language. This could be a boon for multi-language workforces, which are common in many parts of the world.

Potential downsides to Google Glasses

Like any new technology, Google Glasses has potential disadvantages, too. Here are some we can foresee for these high-tech specs:

How durable would they be in the field? The design of glasses that Google has been promoting keeps their weight to a minimum, but may not be very durable in the field. Any technology used in mining and construction must be able to survive a variety of environmental extremes, plus be durable enough to survive the rigors of daily work on the work site. It may be a year or two before Google launches Glasses designs that are durable enough to be used for training on work sites.

Safety and distractions: From a safety standpoint, it probably isn't advisable for students to be watching what's displayed on their Glasses while operating a piece of equipment. Distractions can be deadly, whether you're operating heavy machinery or a passenger vehicle. Training managers will need to experiment with Google Glasses to figure out how to use them most effectively - and safely - with trainees, who could quickly get overwhelmed with the cascade of real-world and virtual information coming at them, all at the same time.

As you can see, Google Glasses have a lot of potential to revolutionize training, with a few caveats. So far, the search engine giant has only rolled out Glasses to 8,000 of the "digerati" - the people who write about and report about technology, to help create a buzz for it. The rest of us won't be able to buy Google Glasses until the summer of 2013.

Meanwhile, we'll be keeping a close eye on this technology as it matures, and will keep you up-to-date on our findings via this blog and VISTA's other social media channels.

Interested in related products? See: The Eyedology of Safety


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