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Mixed Reality Makes a Real Impact

Solve helps introduce AR/VR technology in Australia

In 2019, Solve was approached about a project idea like nothing we had ever done before –  using ‘Mixed Reality Training’ technology.

In partnership with RMIT  3rd year biomedical engineering students, Solve Engineer, Hassan Malik (pictured) lead a collaborative project to identify the use of Microsoft Hololens technology to assist with training people with disability in their repetitive, manual work tasks.

Our client, Ability Works, jumped at the chance to test the technology in a real-life situation at its manufacturing facility in Kew. Ability Works – a not-for-profit social enterprise based at Royal Talbot employing people with intellectual disabilities in various manufacturing jobs.

Given the use of heavy machinery, a peer safety review was conducted to identify hazards and implement risk control measures to ensure user safety and Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) compliance, with special considerations for users’ cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

This project was one of the most innovative projects Solve has ever worked on.”

The student team was allocated a Solve mentor/technical volunteer. To demonstrate the value of this highly innovative concept of mixed reality, the team selected a wire bending machine at Ability Works that bends a straight piece of wire into au shape in six steps.

The final working prototype design was facilitated by the RMIT students using a mixed reality tool – a Hololens headset/glasses, that overlays instructions including text and audio prompts, visual animations, and positive reinforcements to congratulate the operator on reaching a personal milestone.

Ability Works CEO, Sue Boyce presented Solve and RMIT with an opportunity to further develop and scale up the initial project with the help of an innovation grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation. Additional partnerships were formed with Enabler Interactive to develop a customised mixed reality application, and the Melbourne Disability Institute at the University of Melbourne to conduct social impact study.

In mid 2020, six Ability Works employees with varying abilities and experience of the wire bending machine tested the Hololens headset following the overlayed instructions, text, audio and visual animations in their daily tasks.

The results were amazing and exceeded all of our expectations.”

The employees all mastered the task quickly and appeared to enjoy the visual prompts and positive reinforcement imagery (pictured). Working with the MDI, staff observed and interviewed employees about their experience to gather data for their social impact study – a deliverable of the Lord Mayors grant. During this project Solve Disability Solutions managed the overall project, and together with Enabler Interactive developed and deployed the application; and occupational therapy expertise and input on fit for purpose equipment, peer safety review, verification of goals and outcomes, user testing and training, user welfare and wellbeing.

Solve Engineer, Hassan Malik was excited to lead this project as this was the first time mixed-reality (AR/VR) technology had been used in Australia.

“This technology is impressive on many levels but what it really provides is greater independence for the user, where previously they were reliant on ongoing supervision to perform tasks, now they can do it on their own – it’s empowering!”

To find out more about other exciting projects at Solve, get in touch!

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