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Miners in virtual reality

How long should training in VR goggles last – this is a question that JSW Szkolenie i Górnictwo is trying to answer through tests conducted with the participation of 30 employees of the Pniówek mine.

photo: Dawid Lach

Virtual reality training is an element complementing traditional training courses for employees, helping them improve their professional skills. JSW Szkolenie i Górnictwo and the Central Mining Institute are now testing how much time trainees can spend in VR goggles without affecting the effectiveness of such training. The test results will allow them to adjust the exercises to match the capacity of trainees.

- We are about to welcome the last group of people who will put on VR goggles and test themselves how long they can use this virtual world - Aldona Urbanek from JSW Szkolenie i Górnictwo explains. - This is the so-called optimal time of immersion in virtual reality – we need to estimate how long the trainees can use applications in the virtual world - Urbanek adds.

The main focus of the developers of the VR training application is how to use computer technology to the fullest in order to visualize an interactive three-dimensional world and achieve the technical capacity to use the available tools and effects.

- According to available research, a trainee shouldn't use goggles for more than 20-50 minutes, depending on the type of equipment used - Aldona Urbanek says. She notes that the limited time is due to the effects of a ‘simulator disease’ that may affect participants of VR training.

The research will lead to estimation of the optimum time that a trainee needs to adapt to the VR environment and then to conduct the whole training. Research is conducted on new equipment co-funded by the European Union. Goggles can be adjusted to ensure that they adhere to the face perfectly without letting any light in. A training participant is cut off from the real world completely and the high-quality projection is enhanced with sound. As a result of these procedures, participants are able to stay focused and fully immersed in the virtual world. Employees of the mines, working on the surface as well as underground, were invited to take part in the research.

Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa pioneers the use of modern technologies in mining and in training. It is worth noting that teaching methods engaging different senses of the trainees, i.e. sight, hearing and motor skills, have proven to be the most effective. As information is processed on multiple levels, the number of new neural connections formed is much greater than when a trainee learns the same material by heart. Neurodidactics and VR applications are based on common assumptions – they use active training methods to support memorization and to engage trainees in the learning process. That is why the manner, in which a trainer leads classes in VR environment, is so important.

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