Insights and trends on augmented reality and advanced manufacturing technology

Sheltered Workshops and AR Tech Help Disabled Individuals Excel in the Workforce

Being an AR sales engineer at OPS Solutions, I frequently travel to events and tradeshows to showcase Light Guide Systems’ practical augmented reality technology.

At one tradeshow in particular, the organizers let a group of special needs children explore the various booths on the floor. A number of kids stopped by our booth and took turns participating in our interactive demonstration, which challenged participants to build a ballpoint pen using guided augmented reality work instructions. I noticed that the kids paid more attention at the booth than anyone else at the show.

That day, I realized there was a real opportunity to help people with disabilities use augmented reality – and Light Guide Systems, in particular – to master any skill and reach their full potential in any career environment.

How Sheltered Workshops Benefit from Augmented Reality

According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, a sheltered workshop is a non-profit organization that provides employment opportunities for individuals who are developmentally, physically, or mentally impaired, to prepare them for gainful employment in the general economy.

In manufacturing-oriented sheltered workshops, proper training is a crucial area of focus, and one that leaders sometimes have trouble implementing due to the wide range of disabilities.

Practical augmented reality tools, like Light Guide Systems, help overcome that obstacle by projecting a digital operating “canvas” directly onto any work surface and providing both audio and visual guidance to ensure each step in an assembly sequence is completed correctly, every time. Such revolutionary advances in technology turn complex manufacturing process into intuitive instructions that operators of virtually all skill levels can easily implement.

By using these practical AR tools, sheltered workshop employees gain confidence in their abilities to complete any task they’re given and remain highly engaged and focused on the task at hand.

In the case of Light Guide Systems, the work instructions can be tailored to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Manufacturing managers can look at system data to find out which work instructions people are struggling with most, and adjust the way information and real-time feedback is provided to ensure higher understanding and replicable results.

Unique Opportunities for AR in Manufacturing

The beauty of using augmented reality in manufacturing is that it diminishes the learning curve significantly. While employees in sheltered workshops may perform simple and repetitive tasks, AR opens the door to more complex and varied tasks with detailed, visual and easy-to-understand work instructions that keep employees engaged throughout the process and focused on the task at hand.

This is an area of AR training that is growing in popularity not just with sheltered workshops, but across the board in manufacturing.

Manufacturing organizations like the idea of training new hires with Light Guide Systems. Not only does it provide organizations with a consistent way of training employees, it also provides managers with better insight into how well their staff comprehends and interprets the provided work instructions. With a deeper understanding of the skill level of each individual, managers can clearly identify any common pinpoints and create obtainable goals for employees to hit.

For existing workers, managers can use Light Guide Systems to keep employees engaged in routine tasks, incorporate elements of gamification to increase performance and sharpen skill sets.

The applications of AR in manufacturing are extensive and I’ve seen the transformative power of this technology firsthand. Not only does AR create sustainable and rewarding employment opportunities for people with disabilities, it helps employees of all skill levels reach their full potential and fosters a greater sense of connection to the work being performed.

If you’re interested in learning more about the applications for AR in manufacturing, send us a message.

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Mikayla Ray

Mikayla Ray

Mikayla Ray is an Augmented Reality Sales Engineer at OPS Solutions, where she coordinates Light Guide Systems deployments for customers who have purchased AR systems. She’s a graduate of Kettering University and holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science. Her technical background as a software engineer and ability to manage large customer projects enable her to provide an elevated level of customer service, and serve as a knowledgeable resource for those looking to learn more about the practical applications for augmented reality. Outside of work, Mikayla has a passion for improving the education sector and supporting humanitarian efforts, such as search and rescue groups.
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