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Project Bundle 3 "Head-mounted displays - Conditions for safe and strain-optimized use"

A man is wearing a head-mounted display, Photography: Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX

Augmented Reality (AR) describes the enrichment of the real world with virtual objects. AR is ambient intelligence if the correct information is made available at the right time without the user having to search actively for it. For the presentation of this information handhelds such as smartphones and tablet PCs are the most highly developed systems at present. But they have to be held in the hand and are therefore not practical for many working areas. Head-mounted displays (HMDs) solve this problem, but to date they have not been adequately studied with respect to their ergonomic aspects. In an occupational context the combination of AR with handhelds or HMDs offers many possibilities for increasing safety and productivity by reducing the requirement imposed on workers' memory capacity or by supporting decision-making in time-critical situations. Technicians in industrial repair can, for example, obtain information at the right time on what actions are required and what tools are to be used.

The aim of project bundle 3 is therefore to gather knowledge on the potentials and also on the adverse effects that may arise for the user and to generate from this recommendations for occupational use. The central question here is that concerning the tasks for which HMDs should be made available to the user as assistance. For this purpose in a sub-project suitable methods of task analysis are being identified, or they are being modified and applied to various industrial activities. This also yields information on the optimum presentation of information. In other sub-projects the physical effects (on the eye and the musculoskeletal system) and the psychological effects (including matters of acceptance) of the long-term use of HMDs under practical conditions are examined. In an experimental laboratory study the suitability of selected types of task and display are being examined (including a comparison with handhelds). Finally the knowledge gained from the sub-projects is incorporated in guidelines for the support of companies in decision-making regarding the use of AR technologies in combination with HMDs and/or handhelds.