Meet the winners of the XR2Learn Open Call 1: PROXIMA project!

Welcome to an insightful interview featuring the dynamic team behind PROXIMA, a groundbreaking project developed by BSD in collaboration with PROTESA and the University of Bologna (UNIBO). Together, they bring a wealth of expertise in Human Factors, Industrial Design, and Engineering Quality Control to the forefront of industrial training innovation.

BSD, renowned for its proficiency in Human-Machine Interaction design, joins forces with UNIBO’s cutting-edge Industrial Design department and the engineering prowess of PROTESA. Their collective mission? To revolutionise on-the-job training in industrial settings through Augmented Reality (AR) technology, creating a bespoke training kit tailored to the needs of trainers and operators alike.

Linked with XR2Learn, PROXIMA represents a convergence of technology, methodology, and materials, designed to empower trainers with spatial guidance, hazard identification, and real-time information. With a focus on enhancing safety, knowledge, and confidence, PROXIMA aims to bridge the gap between traditional training methods and the demands of modern industrial environments.

In this interview, delve into the origins of the PROXIMA project, its transformative potential, and the collaborative efforts driving its development. Discover how XR2Learn’s support amplifies their ambitions, and explore their vision for the future of industrial training.

 

  1. Can you briefly present to us your team? What’s your story and what drives you?

PROXIMA is proposed by BSD in partnership with PROTESA and the University of Bologna (UNIBO). BSD is a leading expert in Human Factors, HMI, and Interaction design. We consult for businesses in all sorts of industries, from purely digital to production-line based, to food, and even logistics. We decided to partner with UNIBO for their top notch expertise in the Industrial Design field, brought to the next level by the synergies between the Architecture Department, through the Advanced Design Unit, and the Department of Industrial Engineering, where design methodologies are at the forefront of all the departments activities. For us it was essential to have also a trusted partner expert in engineering quality control and 3D model production, like PROTESA. A true leader in these fields.

  1. In simple words, what is your project about and how is it linked with XR2Learn?

PROXIMA aims to design an Augmented Reality (AR) training kit to support on-the-job and site-specific training through technology, methods, and materials tailored to trainers operating in the industrial context. The Kit will integrate the following services:

– Spatial guidance in the production environment;

– Training on machines and equipment;

– Hazard identification through virtual simulations;

– On-field contextual guidance for operations, with real-time information.

The Kit is going to be used for all sorts of training needs: from newbie training to upskilling or refresher training for more seasoned employees. With the advance of Artificial Intelligence, it’s easy to think how training on automation is becoming paramount in the industrial environment. The team’s purpose is to leverage XR technologies and create innovative, customizable, scalable training experiences that take into account the human being – with all its cognitive and physical characteristics, in the act of learning to interact with a modern machine.

  1. How did you come up with this project idea and what benefits will it bring to the end users?

BSD has had experience in designing interfaces for machines’ operators in the last few years. When we designed the first time use experiences of those interfaces, we realised that there was a fairly huge gap to be filled. An opportunity to make that part of the experience much better. We started to reason about what was missing in a 2d type of interface, and what metaphors could work better when onboarding the users to the interface, not only for the first time, but also to all the novel or rare scenarios that might just happen to have a high impact regardless of their occurrence. The question we asked ourselves was: How might we use our past experience to make sure all operators were always safe, knowledgeable, and confident when managing machines? As a general scope, PROXIMA has the goal of enhancing the:

  1. acquisition of production line workspace management skills;
  2. including production processes knowledge;
  3. breakdowns’ inspection and decision-making;
  4. personal trust, accountability, and autonomy in high-automation lines.

The main benefit that the Proxima Training Kit will bring to the end user is the immediacy and the adaptability of the content. The main target audiences are training managers and operators in production lines. We believe that the Kit can use the concept of proximity on multiple levels: spatial/physical proximity and cognitive proximity. The former in relation to the physical tools and the physical working space; the latter in relation to the contextual cognitive load , to the learning attitudes, and to the knowledge level of the trainee

  1. In what way is XR2Learn contributing to your own ambitions?

We hope that XR2Learn will amplify the effects of the Proxima Training Kit, by exposing it to as many training realities as possible. We are pretty confident in the case scenario we just discussed, but we hope that with XR2Learn reliability we will have the opportunity to expand the Kit to other industries too. Think of medical practice for example: the Kit in ORs or in rehabilitation clinics could really change the learning game in healthcare as well.

  1. What type of support do you want to receive from the XR2Learn team?

We are confident that XR2Learn will provide us with a robust, reliable ecosystem that will allow us to keep growing and expanding the scope of the product.

  1. What type of synergies do you want to explore/are already exploring with other XR2Learn teams?

We are interested in exploring strategies to address analogous challenges, potentially in other domains as well. It would be interesting to examine product benchmarks, review case studies and best practices, tap into a network of subject matter experts, and leverage proven results and tested approaches in similar domains.

  1. What are your plans for the future when it comes to the development of your ideas & projects?

Our intention is to further evolve the product. We are aware that the need to make training more productive and less costly is a significant issue for many companies. We are seeing a high turnover rate in several industries. This causes the need to train new operators as effectively and as quickly as possible. Typically, these users areyoung operators accustomed to interfaces and interaction methods typical of the digital world. However, they find themselves dealing with highly complex machinery and interfaces that are outdated and distant from their experiences. Our goal is to provide companies with new training experiences, in line with the end users’ Expectations. Another challenge for companies is the training of external and or distributed teams of operators, dealers, and customers. Being geographically distant leads to dependence on physical materials and assets, as well as high travel costs for trainers and trainees. PROXIMA aims to bridge these distances, with the result of optimising resources while standardising the quality of the learning programs. In terms of product development we are defining an incremental business model for our platform which is designed as an open infrastructure for the delivery of modular and added-value services (e.g. individual coaching, skills gap assessment, training needs assessment, real-time services alerting, recommender system-based services, remote advisory and content management services).