Flavours of Reality

Grimsby Institute for Higher and Further Learning

Grimsby Institute is piloting a novel use of Microsoft HoloLens technology to create a ‘mixed reality’ environment for food safety training. Working with key industry partners to combine virtual and augmented reality with the real experience of a production line, will enable learners to ‘test and learn’ skills within a safe environment.

The aim is to meet industry and learner needs by trialing mixed reality technologies, teaching essential skills including manual dexterity and information interpretation by combining real and virtual world experiences. 360° film audio of Icelandic Seachill production lines, will form the basis for a virtual training environment, overlaid with holographic or 2D information to support learning.

Icelandic Seachill, a leading supplier of chilled fish to retail and commercial markets, and industry body Seafish are key partners. Collectively, they will be able to test, evaluate and adapt the product and roll it out to reach more of the 400,000 employees in UK food manufacturing.

The Flavours of Reality (FoR) project plans to develop a ‘mixed reality’ training course, using Microsoft HoloLens technology to provide simulated experiences of working within a food and drink manufacturing environment. The project is being led by the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education, one of England’s largest providers of further and higher education. Grimsby Institute Group has a rich history of developing innovative training and education solutions. It is the main provider of vocational training in the region and its strong links with local employers is key to making this project possible.

The project aims to use mixed reality training to replace classroom theory and demonstration for workplace training. Through its capacity to fully engage the learner’s senses, mixed reality can teach essential manual dexterity, precision, information interpretation and spatial awareness within a fast-paced learning environment. Students can ‘test and learn’ safely without compromising health and safety or costly impacts on quality assurance and productivity. Focusing Flavours of Reality on food safety training within the seafood industry will enable Grimsby Institute to prove the concept, with the intention of using this approach for training across a wider range of topics in future. The project outcome will be a unique ‘pilot’ product, which effectively delivers training in food safety and hazard control, which can be further developed for wider business/learning needs.

Although HoloLens has been used in medical training environments, FoR is an entirely new application of the technology. The ‘Holo Tour’ approach will enable learners to gain a better understanding of the whole manufacturing process, to see how each activity impacts and is interlinked within the overall process and encourage stronger learner engagement. This solution will immerse people within their environment for more meaningful learning and will appeal to all learning styles. Because HoloLens technology is untethered, it is portable and can be taken into different environments, including the work place, and used when and where it suits the business and the learners. HoloLens can also be used to project the user experience to groups of learners via wi-fi, allowing FoR to involve groups in learning, not just individuals.

Currently, training is delivered in a classroom or online. Staff have to be released from the factory, presenting challenges for the production line and traditional training methods disadvantage people who struggle with 'chalk and talk’ approaches to learning. In addition, the seafood industry is facing the twin challenge of a growing and innovative sector but with an ageing workforce and difficulties in attracting new, young entrants.

Grimsby Institute are working closely with Icelandic Seachill on the Flavours of Reality project. Icelandic Seachill as are a major food manufacturer with over 1000 staff in Grimsby involved in processing fish and seafood. They saw real potential for novel training methods for their workforce using HoloLens technology and agreed to provide access to their production lines to capture film and audio to inform the virtual training environment. This base film will support the development of a range of training objectives for training in areas such as pest control, hazard and control, food safety and auditing. Learning content, including narrative, 3D models of bio-hazards, ‘test and learn’ assessment.

Icelandic Seachill will provide staff for product development trials, as part of the process of testing, evaluating and adapting the product with industry and learners. They are looking forward to a new augmented reality training tool using an immersive journey through the food manufacturing process to provide higher quality of training, suited to many learning styles. The HoloLens training tour will enliven mandatory training and also be used to encourage new entrants to a much-underrated industry..

The third partner is industry body Seafish, who are bringing their breadth of view of all facets of the industry to support the development of the training and identify further opportunities beyond the Ufi funded project.