The project Integrating virtual and AUGMENTED reality with WEARable technology into engineering EDUcation EDUcation – AugmentedWearEdu is a 24-month project, which started in 2020. The main objective of project is to introduce a novel framework for e-Learning consisting of including haptic experiences to enable digital access to laboratories in higher education. This will be achieved by combining both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools with a novel generation of wearable haptic devices. This combination of low-cost commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology (using open-source software and simple physical devices) will make learning in a laboratory and hapto-audiovisual environment possible.
The project is promoted in a partnership between the University of Agder (project coordinator) in Norway, Kaunas University of Technology in Lithuania, Polytechnic University of Timisoara in Romania, the University of Siena in Italy, and the University of Minho. The UMinho team include Isabel Ramos, Associate Professor with Habilitation of the Department of Information Systems of the School of Engineering and researcher at ALGORITMI Research Centre.
"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of countries have closed their higher education institutions. It is estimated that more than 80% of students worldwide attend classes through remote learning,", begins by reveals Isabel Ramos, UMinho's coordinating researcher in this project. "Although these solutions offer an essential support to society in these unprecedented times, they are mostly oriented in enabling theoretical content transfer".
One of the biggest drawbacks of the majority of E-learning existing solutions, is that limited support is provided to hands-on laboratory work and practical experiences. Hands-on experiences are essential to significantly advance learning, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments. The project AugmentedWearEdu will make it possible to engage students in a fully-immersive 3D virtual/augmented educational environment, contributing to performing lab work in a fully-immersive, open, and, most importantly, distance laboratory learning.