Gamification of power-tool based vocational education through mixed reality

This project aims at enabling practical learning and knowledge transfer of safe vocational practices, specifically stonemasonry. By using mixed reality through the Microsoft HoloLens, it is possible for students at further education institutions to learn safe working practices with power tools, in this case a stone grinder. The proposal has been trialled at Edinburgh and Glasgow colleges, as well as demonstrations for Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Parliament, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.​

Vocational training in Scotland suffers from a lack of practical application of safe power tool handling. For students currently in further education, it is impossible to receive hands-on power tool training in educational institutions, instead relying on a generic, paper-based tool safety module and training on the job, which can vary widely in quality. As well as increasing the likelihood of serious injury, this can also affect employment prospects due to the need for further training. The UK’s Health and Safety Executive claim almost half of all accidents which involve power tools and abrasive wheels are the result of operator error or an unsafe system of work, which is compounded by the lack of a standard for power tool handling. In 2018/19, the construction industry had the second highest rate of workplace injury.​

This application was developed with the assistance of the Scottish Qualifications Authority to provide a standard training experience for students in further education institutions. The application involves using a real stone grinder to cut into a virtual stone block, which is displayed in the real world through the HoloLens headset. The grinder has a spinning substitute (non-dangerous) disc, controlled by a motor which communicates with the HoloLens. The advantages of this setup include:​

  • The ability to train in a normal environment, the lack of any wires on the HoloLens means it is possible for students to train where their work is normally carried out;​
  • Re-enforce safe working practices through gamification, which is achieved through requiring the selection of the correct PPE, cutting blade and feed rate for the operation;​
  • Encourage learning anywhere, through connection to the BEACONING learning platform it’s possible for classmates to compete the carry out the job better;​
  • Allow tutors to examine any aspect of the operation at any time, it is possible for the entire session to be played back in full to examine the process used;​
  • Save material cost of buying stone blocks, it is possible to alter the parameters of operation so different types of stone can be simulated;​
  • Safely simulate the quirks of stone grinding, such as kickback;​

Development was carried out by Sam Harper and led by Dr Theodore Lim, with the consultation of Scott Mcgibbon, Scottish Qualifications Authority.​

This project falls under the BEACONING gameful learning project (Grant Agreement 687676).​