VeRgonomiX II –practical applications of virtual reality in ergonomics

A virtual environment in which processes from everyday work can be simulated and trained.

Background and Project Content

Combining body-worn sensors for motion detection (e.g., the AUVA Captiv system; HTC Vive tracker) with head-worn goggles that project images onto a screen near the eye or directly onto the retina (i.e., head-mounted displays) make it possible to develop immersive and interactive virtual reality (VR) applications. Such applications can be used in counselling as well as for “re-enacting” typical situations in a person’s everyday working life. Work steps such as the manual lifting, holding, and carrying of loads as well as overhead work can be performed in virtual space. In addition, postures/movements beneficial to a person’s health can be practiced and the sense of balance can be trained through various activities.

The evaluation of the prototype developed within the framework of the previous project VeRgonomiX revealed that an integration of real physical objects into the virtual environment and concrete, company-specific areas of application would enhance the practical value of the device significantly. To this end, VeRgonomiX II collaborates with the AUVA on the development of practical solutions that meet the needs of a wide variety of companies.

Goals

Building on the already existing virtual rooms and scenarios, the project VeRgonomiX II aims at developing new functionalities such as the integration of company-specific physical objects.

Methods

Using LiDAR scanners (determination of distances via infrared light emitted by cameras and reflected by objects), individual objects are scanned and representations of these objects are imported into the virtual environment. In a next step, the coordinates of the physical objects are compared with those of the scanned objects (“matching”). This is an important step in making it possible to use and manipulate the “actual” objects in the virtual environment. In addition, human movement data is recorded with the help of specialists in physiotherapy. This allows it to transfer activities such as the lifting, carrying, or holding of loads onto an avatar and to create accurate visualisations of these activities in VR. Technical and health personnel receives training on the technology, with the aim of enabling them to operate the system independently. Also, an instruction manual is written and a video tutorial created.

Results

In the present project, the virtual rooms and scenarios developed in the predecessor project VeRgonomiX are extended and become more practical. In this way, we achieve improvements in the simulation and testing of the ergonomic design of workplaces, make consultations on the subject more vivid and “tangible”, make it possible to carry out work training processes in virtual space, and deliver a practicable solution for a large number of companies.

Partners
  • AUVA (Mag. Norbert Lechner, Andreas Kyrian)
Funding
AUVA (Auftragsforschung)
Runtime
03/01/2022 – 08/31/2022
Status
current
Involved Institutes, Groups and Centers
Center for Digital Health and Social Innovation
Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies
Institute of Health Sciences
Research Group Digital Technologies