Man, Technology and Organisation

Virtual environments for maintenance and outage training


IFE is working on using virtual reality to provide nuclear power plant workers a better understanding of their work tasks, and get familiar with equipment and work area

Nystad, Espen

Senior scientist


A virtual environment (VE) is a three-dimensional computer-simulated environment where users can explore and interact with 3D models (virtual objects) of rooms, work areas and equipment. A VE can provide a setting in which personnel can train on performing work tasks when it is not practical or possible to perform the training in the real environment. Virtual reality techniques can enable realistic visual simulations for training and preparation for work, where users can learn to recognise the work area, be familiarized with equipment, be briefed on work tasks, and train on performing the tasks themselves.  
Making user interaction with the VE easier and more intuitive may reduce the time required for learning to use the training tool so that more time can be spent on the relevant training tasks. When a training system is easy to use, a barrier for using a VE simulation is removed, which may increase motivation for learning.
The next generation of employees are familiar with 3D technologies applied in modern computer games. Adapting game technologies to training applications may make learning more interesting and adapted for new employees.
Microsoft's Kinect enables device-less position tracking and gesture input. An infrared camera creates a depth-image of your body, and registers the body's position and posture. This makes it possible to design intuitive ways of interacting with the VE based on the body position and gestures of the user. The video shows some possibilities for applications of this kind of technology for creating an intuitive and motivating learning experience. The user can use his or her body to move through a work environment and examine equipment by walking around it, taking it apart, and making it transparent.