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V-MACHINA, personnel training in manufacturing through Virtual Reality
24 June 2022
The Institute for Information Systems and Networking (ISIN) is working on the Virtual Machina project within the European EIT Manufacturing programme to develop a platform for staff training by Virtual Reality.

In manufacturing, staff training often requires interaction with expensive, cumbersome and potentially dangerous machines and robots (M&R). In addition, the successful implementation of M&R applications often represents a major challenge in terms of efficiency, diversity and impact on employee health.

Through the V-MACHINA project, developed by the Institute of Information Systems and Networking (ISIN) of SUPSI’s Department of Innovative Technologies within the European EIT Manufacturing programme, these interactions are being mitigated by providing sustainable, accessible and safe simulations through virtual reality applied to manufacturing environments.

In particular, the research team led by Silvia Giordano and Achille Peternier, respectively Professor and Adjunct Professor at ISIN, aims to achieve a human-centric perspective through the promotion of three paradigm shifts in education. LEARNING4ALL, providing everyone with access to easy M&R modelling in virtual reality; ACCESS4ALL, offering everyone a tailor-made experience, without gender and diversity discrimination; FEELING4ALL, including emotions in human-machine interaction that are collected from the virtual environment and used to adapt the parameters of the simulation being performed.

“Through the Virtual Machinery Environment platform, we are able to create virtual laboratories where we can simulate the operation of different machines and robots," explains Prof. Giordano. "These experiences can be done anywhere, even at home, with simple virtual reality equipment in a very safe and inexpensive environment”.

Preliminary results from the project led to V-MACHINA being awarded the EIT-M Success Story Award 2020.

By transposing real-world experiences with M&R into virtual reality-based educational modules with visual, auditory and haptic feedback, through V-MACHINA any user can learn how to deal with M&R safely and with less impact in terms of infrastructure, energy, logistics and costs.

Virtual reality simulations can also be customised to include users' specific health and diversity needs. Similarly, they also act as mentors by including automatic performance monitoring and feedback (with gamification strategies) on tasks and exercises, guiding the user through the proposed activities and monitoring their progress. Thanks to virtualisation, V-Machina reduces distances and creates a true collaborative environment between remote sites. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has further increased the need for such virtual spaces to be more versatile than simple audio/video conferencing and data sharing: emotion-based technology can be disruptive.
“We are now pursuing work on this project by taking the experience we have developed to classrooms, thus including a large number of people in real time”, Prof. Peternier remarks. “Next year, we expect to be able to introduce new aspects such as privacy and security, which are especially crucial during the stages of collecting personal data from users and recording emotions”.