PITTSBURGH—Virtual reality has the potential to encourage safety, promote hiring, assist learning and facilitate social change—and that's just in the rubber industry, according to Duane Dunston, keynote speaker for the International Elastomer Conference.
The first day of the bicentennial gathering—the division's 200th technical meeting—for the IEC kicked off Oct. 5 with a 50-minute talk from the expert on risk management, cryptography, security education and the use of technology—in this case via virtual and augmented reality—for social change.
Dunston is an associate professor of cybersecurity at Champlain College, located just outside of Burlington, Vt., and has been in information security for more than two decades, working in both the education and government sectors.
He is pursuing his doctor of education degree at Northeastern University and resides in Essex Junction, Vt.
"There is lots of potential for the augmented reality industry, in automation, large equipment and expensive equipment—those industries have augmented reality written all over them," he said.
AR has its roots in aviation, at least in part, according to Dunston. Originators of augmented reality conducted a study with aircraft workers as they attempted to rewire an aircraft.
Simply too archaic was the task of placing pegs into cardboard, then overlaying that cardboard with a template that referenced the proper schematics to ensure accuracy.
Why not wear virtual goggles that project the schematics onto the board, for the sake of safety and efficiency?
"Studies have shown that when you apply VR or AR scenarios to the real world, very few errors occur," Dunston said. "All of this is important for the expenses that can occur in the industry.
"And there is little room for error as far as safety is involved (without AR)—in the operation of machines, the mixing of chemicals—all of this can be dangerous."
And training—both the hours and money spent—should improve, according to Dunston.
"One of the great benefits of AR—learning how to use unique technology, assemble it, push the buttons on it—is that you see how (the equipment) behaves before the machine arrives," he said. "The maintenance person can learn to repair the equipment before it arrives."
Either as an overlay or juxtaposed next to a particular part, augmented reality can detect 3D images, Dunston said, making it a great tool for removing parts and repairing them.
"AR very quickly pays for itself," he told the crowd in the ballroom of the David H. Lawrence Convention Center. "New hires can learn quickly, something that costs money. New hires can push buttons, feel it, before using it."