Category Archives: Uncategorized

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Industrial Strategy: Exporting Digital Railway through innovation and interconnectivity into Intelligent Transport Systems

PAULEY welcome the advent and the announcement of the Governments Industrial Strategy. In particular we are drawn to the alignment between the 10 Pillars and a number of activities we are very familiar with. The overarching vision of the future “connected Britain” is a tremendous rallying call for the country as a whole and to the next generation.

As an island nation standing tall on the global stage, we are uniquely positioned to lead the world in a holistic approach to the delivery and operation of a smart infrastructure and transportation network. In our mind, the Industrial Strategy represents an opportunity for the UK to develop and showcase a unique system which can be exported and replicated across the world, underpinned by a home grown specialist skillset.

PAULEY have been investing in and working on innovation in inter-transferable skills to increasing capacity looking particularly at the needs and requirements of business and the digital railway. An area of particular success has been with the government and industry joint venture the National Training Academy for Rail as their preferred technology partner. Our digital engagement has been extremely well received and is seen to be a massive opportunity for growth not just in accelerating competency but in how immersive digital material can be seamlessly integrated into manufacturing, maintenance and operational delivery.

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Digitizing training and operational procedures has proved to be transformative in the learning and development arena. Offering this interactive material online as refresher courses to maintain competency has also been very well received. Furthermore, by allowing engineers access to new technology and data visualization has been the fundamental step change from Death by PowerPoint into substantive financial benefit. Empowering the existing work force and inspiring the next generation in immersive technology at the same time as reducing the carbon footprint of unnecessary travel and increasing productivity by allowing delivery at the point of need are seen as key advantages.

PAULEY recognize the business advantages of moving to Railway 2.0 (the digital rail revolution) and hope to be well positioned at the outset of this journey. We believe that a One Network, One Fleet approach will be fundamental to its success and will culminate in the export of a new national success story overseas. The opportunity therein is to align the key and uniquely different global stakeholders that make up our existing rail network and fleet around the common goal of developing not only the Digital Railway but how Smart Mobility and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) will align.

However, typically there is a new type of threat that will rise to challenge this vision and a new skill set required for staff to acquire. We recognize Cyber Security as an increasing facet of everyone’s life globally (and as a global economic driver) and moving forward we hope to team up with an industry leader in this space to offer clear and cross-sectorial training to ensure best practice is accessible across industry.

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Smart infrastructure will be transmodal and encompass smart cities to autonomous road and marine ‘trains” of vehicles for both public and freight usage. Our unprecedented rail investment offers a real opportunity to be at the forefront of this journey. PAULEY look forward to supporting a highly skilled network of employees engage not only in London and North East, but with international Governments in helping them take advantage of working alongside the UK when introducing this digital step change.

Innovation is at the heart of everything we do here at PAULEY and we relish the opportunity to work alongside any organization interested in Innovate UK funding. We would like to see the advantage of SME and large corporations collaboration showcased and spread across the emerging global network. The UK’s Rail sector was fundamental in the Industrial revolution. Once again rail has a unique opportunity to lead the world in the intelligent infrastructure revolution.

The UK has an unparalleled reputation as an outstanding educationalist throughout the world and BEIS presents an outstanding conduit into international markets. Our country represents a trusted and respected partner for delivering a range of innovative and global development projects. Imagine playing your part at the beginning of a global movement towards a “smart” infrastructure network. Just think of where working in the Digital Railway could take you!

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Please do not hesitate to contact us through the usual channels or Tel: +44 1908 522532

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Augmented and Virtual Reality are a key driver in delivering the Digital Railway

In December 2016, the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR), Rail Supply Group (RSG), Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Transport (DfT) gathered the Rail Industry together to launch the Rail Sector Skills Delivery Plan.

The industry plan is to recruit 100,000 people into the rail industry to plug the skills gap and keep the country moving forward as demand for both passenger and rail freight shows no sign of slowing down. The Government have committed through their Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy (TISS) their requirement to produce 30,000 new apprenticeships by 2020 of which 20,000 have been targeted in rail. Their aim is for 20% of the entrants to be female and a 20% increase in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME).

So as an industry our challenge is this, we need to recruit 100,000 highly motivated people. In the engineering discipline we are competing against the Automotive, Aerospace, Construction, Energy and Oil & Gas sectors all of whom have an established culture of driving innovation and have proactively formed relationships with schools, universities and the military.

In order to compete against these other sectors in the battle for talent, dare I say it, we have to make the railway sexy. One way to achieve this is to educate our future and existing workforce that in railways we are utilising leading cutting edge technology and embracing accelerated ways of learning as the catalyst to engage the exciting digital railway journey ahead of us.

“Embrace technology or risk falling behind”. Britain’s railway must take advantage of new technology in order to improve services, industry leaders urged the sector in an open letter to the Times: “To respond to the challenge of a huge increase in rail journeys and people’s expectations rising faster than the improvement in services, the railway must harness new technology and change the way we work” the letter reads.

Other industries have been through these changes. Now it is the turn of rail, critically important to the future of our nation. By exploiting technology and smarter working, we can make train travel more reliable, more accessible, more affordable and more comfortable, creating new jobs in the sector and enabling manufacturers to grow the British economy.

Earlier in the year PAULEY (Interactive) were invited to attend the World Skills Show to showcase our virtual reality experience of the new National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) alongside an augmented reality experience for HS2 by Plotr.

It was clear that by offering these technologies they attracted and engaged more potential young talent. NCHSR and HS2 have started to advanced the process by embracing innovative and immersive new technology in recruiting the railway workers of the future to maximum effect.

Faced with communicating to a gaming generation whose every waking moment seems to be spent interacting with mobile devices, the answer to engaging the next generation seems quite simple. Communicate with the digital natives in a language they are familiar with. By communicating in a methodology that inspires and reassures them that a job in the railway of the future will use this technology as a matter of course. We need to teach young engineers that becoming a digital railway man or women will offer them a dynamic career for life and a passport to work anywhere in the world.

We demonstrated our latest HoloLens experience at NTAR in December where Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director, Rail Systems, Siemens said: “I am very impressed with the Augmented and Virtual Reality software that has been applied by PAULEY in delivering the next generation of digital training at the National Skills Academy for Rail. This type of equipment and technology will be essential in training the next generation of rail engineers”.

Immersive training technology for the rail sector has been tried, tested and pioneered by PAULEY Interactive Ltd at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR). Collaboration with NTAR has resulted in multiple awards being won over the last year for driving innovation in learning and development.

Philip Pauley, CEO and Founder of PAULEY Interactive Ltd commented “By digitising course material into immersive content we have been able to successfully reduce learning time and maximize competency of our future engineers; their feedback on the new digitized methodology has been astounding!”

Looking at both track and train as a whole, we are developing more immersive course content and tailored maintenance, safety critical and operations material which can be delivered fully immersed in touchscreen, augmented and virtual reality solutions. Within these digital environments and step by step processes there is no need to worry about safety and taking someone directly into a dangerous environment as you can teach them first in the classroom or more importantly, at the point of need.

Some may argue there is nothing sexy about the railway; the rain, the hours, the hoop jumping, the frustration etc but a career working on the UK rail network will give the next generation of digital rail engineers a passport to utilize leading edge technology and travel anywhere in the world. We believe our future digital railway has the potential to be very sexy, full of immersive technology and will give an aspiring engineer (and existing workforce) the digital skillset to embrace a global railway family.

If you would like to find out how PAULEY (Interactive) can accelerate learning, improve safety or help drive down training costs in your organization please get in touch with Philip Pauley via info@pauley.co.uk or www.pauley.co.uk.

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12 Months before Christmas – A Year Driving Rail Innovation and Skills

As we move into December 2016 and start our strategic planning for next year, we take a pause to look back and review this year. Each year we like to see what innovations we have introduced and how we have helped our clients advance. By listening first and fully understanding the challenges and issues our clients face, we are then able to share our knowledge, experiences, thoughts and ideas with them. Then and only then can we come up with the digital solutions to solve those issues that we all face each and every day, to improve the lives of the end user and of our customers products and/or services alike.

Quite where the year has gone is anybody’s guess, flashing by like a Hitachi Class 395 Javelin on High Speed 1 or the new Eurostar e320 Class 374 Velaro ferrying politicians and lobbyists from London to Brussels and vice versa as they talk, Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit.

We like to spend a few days in December reviewing what worked, what didn’t and how we can and must improve, for anyone who stands still in the technology arena will tell you, do so at your peril. Advancement is our rallying call.

We also like to look externally at our supply chain, customers and clients to see who we learnt the most from, who inspired us. This continual learning is a 2 way thing, we gain as much from you as you can learn from us but the desire to be innovative, bold and pioneering is in us all. It is our motto here at PAULEY.

Our passion this year has been to offer completely bespoke tailored digital solutions to:

  • Improve operational efficiency within Train Operating Companies (TOC’s) and Contractors.
  • Improving staff competency within railway maintenance depots whilst reducing costs and at the same time improving Health and Safety.
  • Drive digital innovation in railway infrastructure and network operation.

With Partnerships, NDA’s and MoU’s all signed, we are finally able to share some of what we’ve been up to this year and where we believe the industry will boldly go in 2017 and beyond.


January

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As the apprentices and graduates streamed through the doors of The National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton, we were overwhelmed at how keen they were to engage with our interactive touch-screen material and virtual reality training suite that we delivered for the Siemens/NSAR JV. It is the first of its kind for the rail industry and quickly established itself as a leading light for young engineers wanting to engage in this hugely exciting industry. Both PAULEY and NTAR were honored to be shortlisted for several high profile awards for our leading edge work in the field of digital immersive engagement.


February

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Winning the highly coveted Gold Award for Innovation in Learning for our work with NTAR at the Learning and Performance Institutes Awards in 2016 was a great start to the year. The Judges commended us on our ability to combine different technologies to make “cutting-edge, engaging and realistic learning”. Whilst we were praised for making “an impressive contribution to the delivery of learning”.


March

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We were delighted to be invited to attend the inaugural Rail Careers Zone at the 10th Middle East Rail Trade Fair in Dubai in March. We felt very proud to be flying the flag for British innovation in rail alongside world respected companies such as railway depot equipment specialists Mechan & global railway infrastructure engineers Network Rail Consulting.

As well as meeting with the Rail Minister, the event provided a rare chance to form informal partnerships with Middle East-based companies outside of rail. With our exhibition stand located directly opposite Dubai Police both Philip and Andrew were on best behaviour! The Gala Dinner at the base of the stunning Burj Khalifa was simply breath-taking (take note Railtex 2017 in May at Birmingham!).


April

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We launched our new Virtual & Augmented Reality Apps & Resources portal. Known as VR/AR, anyone interested in this rapidly growing field can find out more about 360 videos, downloadable apps, games and browse immersive hardware currently on offer and in the pipeline.

In an exciting development in April, we were approached by mobile learning platform Samsung SDS Europe Edutto to become their first approved content provider for the Samsung Gear VR headset. It is worth noting that the augmented, virtual and mixed reality marketplace growth is set to reach a staggering $150 billion by 2020.


May

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Military might called in the form of ITEC Defence Show at Excel London. Europe’s largest forum for training, education and simulation in the defense industry saw us demonstrating our immersive technology and dynamic training tools to Naval, Air & Land Forces.

We successfully completed our Squared Online digital marketing leadership qualification, the only marketing accreditation to be approved by Google. We are now in a commanding position to increase UK Rail companies online presence globally by improving how Google rates their website. If you’re interesting in knowing where our website now scores against other rail industry members please click here.

Before the course our web grader score was 64, just 48 hrs later our score was 100!


June

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PAULEY were delighted to assist NTAR in securing a 3-5yr contract with Transport for London (TfL). Our work will deliver a new immersive and supportive training facility through dynamic course material and synthetic environments for TfL employees. We were also invited to join NTAR to showcase our digital technology to high profile visitors including Juergen Maier, Chief Executive Siemens Plc and Sir Nicholas Soames MP who branded the facilities “extraordinary”.

Alongside this, the Plotr Transport Careers World launched and we were proud to be a partner in this enterprise, especially as it’s a great opportunity for us to help promote careers and apprenticeships to young people across the UK helping to solve the looming problem of the digital railway skills gap.


July

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We saw the fruits of all our “globetrotting” endevours with PAULEY winning contracts and delivering workshops for some very high profile clients. We continue to be amazed and appreciative of the amount of access and real interest the rail industry has shown in implementing Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality into their processes to drive efficiency and reduce cost whilst increasing health and safety in the railway through immersive digital training.

Innovative organizations have included but are not limited to DfT, TfL, LU, NCHSR, HS2, TOC’s, FOC’s, ROSCO’s, Manufacturer, Contractors, Designers and Architects; from in-house training and maintenance to infrastructure and operations teams, all starting to see the huge benefits of visualising data and processes.


August

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Rather than being a slow month it saw us included in a number of franchise bid opportunities, one in a supplier support position and another example as a partner of the owning group. August also heralded our move into infrastructure and being challenged by tier 1 contractors and a Network Rail RAM team which we have to keep quiet about for now!

We had our first contact with US Naval War College, Royal Marine Commando’s and 3 UK Defence Schools to deliver immersive Tri-Service course material and research. We were also delighted to be accepted as a member of the Defence Industries European Training and Simulation Association (ETSA).

On a personal note, we wish to say a huge congratulations to Holly, our Communications Manager who not only embarked on maternity leave for the first time, but who has just secured a book deal for 2 novels. We miss your blogs and insight Holly! Hope you and baby are well and are a proud wearer of your baby on board badge we requested from TfL for you!


September

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There is only one place to be in the rail industry, so Berlin bound we headed off to Innotrans. We were invited to showcase our BIM VR work for the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) on the Rail Alliance stand within the RIA hosted UK pavilion (special thanks to Colin, Lucy and the team for their support). Further afield and 48hrs later our technology supported the future transport demonstration zone of our partners at World Skills Malaysia.

Our efforts almost a year on in helping deliver the NTAR vision were recognised with the Award of Outstanding Training Delivery within the Ofstead inspection. This offered Siemens as a client their very first Outstanding Award in training provision. Furthermore NTAR/PAULEY were delighted to be shortlisted for a Learning Technologies Award 2016 in the “Best use of simulation or virtual environments for learning” category.


October

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We were invited by Samsung SDS Europe to present our rail specific virtual and augmented reality software to the Dft Innovation Board at Virgin Trains East Coast. One of our key goals for next year will be to help develop how innovation and immersive technology can be best practice within the DfT bidding framework if considered beneficial.

We continued to build upon our partnership profile by collaborating with a major UK Defense and Cyber Security Plc. We look forward to collaborating on a number of exciting projects in the new year – please stay tuned!


November

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We have been delighted to be introduced to the delivery contractor for NCHSR – and to be invited to play our part in the team at the World Skills Show alongside NCHSR and HS2 to demonstrate how BIM can be incorporated into a Virtual Reality. We also offered a VR tour of the stunning new facilities, which proved very popular indeed with the young attendees.

We were invited to present at the Rail Freight Group AGM and have expanded our horizons into the ROSCO and freight part of our world. As NTAR continue to grow from strength to strength they’ve now been shortlisted for the Rail Most Interesting Awards and a UK RIA 2017 Award for their digital innovation. Fingers crossed to their team.


December

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We are very proud to have been able to support the Young Rail Professionals (YRP) with the provision and launch of their new website and look forward to a greater involvement in 2017 – taking their grader score from 34 to 87 in a very short period of time. We delivered another first for the chair when we met her and she entered the Augmented Reality world through our Rail Skills HoloLens Experience and tweeted about the experience.

As we catch our breath and prepare the plan for 2017 we would like to wish all our existing customers, supply chain partners, our new friends that we met this year a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!

If you are looking to increase safety, drive down cost whilst increasing efficiency in 2017 we may have a digital solution for you, your staff & most importantly, your customers.

For a no obligation conversation you can call Phil Pauley at our Milton Keynes offices on 01908522532, email Philip.pauley@pauley.co.uk or follow our daily tweets @pauleygtr


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VR Set to Collide With Pop Culture at London Film & Comic Con’s Inaugural VR Zone

As 2016 rolls on, virtual and augmented realities are increasingly hitting the spotlight. We’ll be showcasing the latest developments, connecting with early adopters and networking with the best developers from the UK and beyond at this July’s London Film & Comic Con by powering the event’s inaugural VR Zone. 

What’s the big deal about virtual and augmented realities?

Virtual reality (VR) transports the user out of their everyday world and immerses them in a 360-degree environment. While VR headsets are generally more affordable and accessible at the moment, thanks to low cost headsets such as Google Cardboard and Gear VR, most headsets have to be tethered to a computer. VR has growing applications for videogames, as well as viewing films, sporting and music events and promos for the latest TV series.

Augmented reality (AR) superimposes interactive digital content into the real world, blending real and virtual realities. Unlike VR, AR systems are standalone and don’t need to be tethered to a computer but this evolving technology is more expensive and still largely in development. Many headsets are being developed specifically for businesses and industry, potentially sparking the next Industrial Revolution.

There’s little doubt that VR and AR are going to be big. CCS Insight is predicting that 800,000 VR headsets will be sold in the UK this year—an impressive number for what’s still classed as an emerging industry. In the longer term, VR market revenue is likely to reach $30 billion by 2020, with AR reaching around $90 billion.

The new reality movement needs a central hub, so we’re building it…

PAULEY’s mission is to become the definitive source of information for mixed realities and immersive technologies, and we will be constantly striving to achieve this goal. Our new pages offer a one-stop source of information, news and views for consumers and developers alike.

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Our brand new VR/AR Resource Centre is designed to help users explore science, technology, engineering and maths through our pick of the best immersive, virtual and augmented worlds. Within this microsite, you can browse our favourite 360 videos, apps and games, sort by device and then click straight through to the download site.

We have also created a linked page that details the hardware and peripherals already on the market and those soon set to join it. The aim of this is to empower anyone interested in immersive media by walking them through the options and helping them understand the best way to get involved. Take a look now to see how you can enter virtual and augmented worlds on your own terms by choosing the headset and creation tools that are right for you.

In addition, we’ve created an online community for VR, AR and mixed reality developers. Here, developers will find advice, tips and useful resources for working in the field of VR and AR development. This network will also connect developers with job opportunities, and unite employers with a community of leading British developers.

As always, we’ll continue to publish the most exciting, inspiring, up-to-date news on our Tech Review microsite, where you’ll also find our blog posts and other updates.

Introducing new realities to the London Film & Comic Con’s VR Zone

We’re excited to be hosting this massive event’s very first virtual reality and immersive technologies area, the VR Zone, alongside the annual themes of movies, TV, comics, sports, wrestling, literature and games.

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By showcasing the most inspiring, state-of-the-art developments in the field today, the VR Zone will form a major part of our effort to engage people with emerging technologies, and to raise the profile of VR, AR, and 360 video developers and companies from the UK and beyond.

We will be tapping into the diversity of the London Film & Comic Con’s 100,000 attendees and vast associated media attention, using it as an outstanding opportunity to bring virtual reality right into the centre of the entertainment industry and into people’s lives. We hope to replicate the success of the event’s Young Adult Literature Convention, which runs alongside the main event to attract a youthful demographic and which successfully positions reading in the wider arena of popular culture.

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We’re seeking a few more exciting developers to join us in showcasing their product or solution to a diverse, enthusiastic audience. So please do email info@pauley.co.uk or give us a call on 01908 522 532 if you’re interested in getting involved!

Anyone interested in attending as a visitor can buy Comic Con tickets here.

We hope to see you at the VR Zone to help us celebrate the exciting future of VR, AR and immersive realities!

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Traditional Learning Is Going Immersive, Virtual & Augmented

Schools and other teaching environments are still biased towards making learners listen, read and write in order to take in new information. But the reality is that few of us are inspired—or able—to learn from word-heavy PowerPoint slides or the sound of a lecturer’s voice. Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), touchscreens, and 3D content can change how we learn for the better.

There are four main types of learners: auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic. Most of us are a mixture of these, but we each tend to have a preferred method of learning new things.

As babies and children, we decipher the world around us by looking at it and interacting with it, so it’s no surprise that those tendencies stay with us for life. Estimates vary, but the vast majority of us are primarily visual and kinaesthetic learners.

Around 40% of people tend to be visual learners, which means that they learn by seeing and visualising mental pictures. A similar percentage of people are thought to be kinaesthetic learners, who conquer concepts by applying all their senses and learn best with hands-on approaches, and approaching problems by trial and error.

Once you understand this, it becomes obvious that immersive technologies are an incredible asset to the vast majority of learners. These immersive methods of interaction break down the barriers between the learner and the content. The popularity of smartphones and tablets is testament to the personal connection and immediacy of the interface. Touchscreens, are all intuitive and don’t require any technical knowledge for the learner to get involved.

Children now play—and learn—more through touchscreens than more traditional toys. And this is something that teachers are starting to realise, too. According to a recent TES survey, 1 in 10 teachers would most like to see VR or AR headsets enter the classroom beyond any other technology, a two-fold increase from last year.

The benefits of immersive technologies for kinaesthetic learning

It’s often hard to properly understand something you have never directly seen or experienced, and for the kinaesthetic learner it’s vital. Unfortunately, this learning style is much neglected in traditional classroom environments.

VR and AR are perfect ways in which to execute hands-on learning. Its multi-sensory experiences allow learners to develop their own personal interpretation of a concept and make connections to other ideas and concepts. These kinds of kinaesthetic activities strip down concepts to something which all learners can understand, without equations or complex and wordy descriptions.

Importantly, this approach also encourages learners to be proactive and do things for themselves—an important life skill.

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The benefits of immersive technologies for visual learning

In VR, learners are surrounded by computer-derived visuals, and in AR, they experience visual information overlaid onto the world around them. So visual learners can really benefit from this high-tech approach.

Images find their way more easily into our long-term memories, especially for primarily visual learners. When paired with a concept, visual learning helps our recall of information.

Neuroscience research also suggests that many of us can learn faster using visual images, with visuals being processed much faster than text in the brain. Plus, visual cues tend to trigger emotional responses more readily. Strong emotional reactions are a major factor influencing information retention.

Immersive technologies for all learners

Although this blog focuses on the benefits of immersive technologies for visual and kinaesthetic learners, such experiences can also be shaped to appeal to auditory and reading/writing learners as well. With VR goggles or AR smart glasses, learners can view, listen, read, and carry out activities at the same time.

The other key aspect of immersive learning is that the experiences can be made stimulating and fun. Finding ways to immerse leaners in a physical experience that represents even the most theoretical subject matter proves immersive and enjoyable, driving trainees to take charge of their own learning. Participation learning makes the process interactive, fun, and as a result, more memorable.

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The role of immersive technologies in workplace learning

For people working in physical, hands-on environments that are constantly changing—engineers and construction workers, for example—VR/AR training can be especially relevant and effective.

And we’ve seen this in action. With our award-winning immersive courses and virtual reality suite at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton, we’ve already modernised and converted over 4,000 pages of traditional paper based courses into engaging learning experiences.

By wearing a VR headset or accessing 3D content on touchscreens, trainees are able to familiarise themselves with the workings of a train, right down to the nuts and bolts, in a safe and effective learning environment. Such experiences just wouldn’t be possible on the railway tracks or through traditional paper-based and classroom training techniques.

The high levels of interactivity required by engaging mentally and physically with a virtual environment drive accelerated learning, higher results and pass rates thanks to increased memorability. Meanwhile, consistency and quality have been enhanced.

If you’d like to find out more about how VR and other immersive technologies could transform training within your business, get in touch for a chat.

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Blending Reality in Classrooms for the Benefit of All

Long gone are the days of rote learning around the blackboard with the teacher holding a half-broken piece of chalk. Classrooms have become more hi-tech, with interactive whiteboards now a standard centrepiece for group learning, and increasing numbers of teachers eager to experiment with the latest touchscreens and mobile devices. Could virtual reality (VR) be the next big thing?

VR training has already been widely adopted by commercial companies, games developers and the military. Even in the medical field, more devices and apps are catering to improving the skills of doctors and surgeons using both virtual and mixed reality.

Interest in VR is growing exponentially into other sectors, such as education, because of the rapid technological advances in the hardware (see this recent blog for our review of the field). Portable headsets are now making immersive experiences possible in everyday settings.

The advantages of VR in education

Researchers in the field have already seen the benefits of VR in schools.  It seems, when used correctly, that this approach can strengthen the overall learning experience.

It’s often stated that the typical person can remember 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see and up to 90% of what we do or experience. That gives some clue to the revolutionary effectiveness of VR—what we call active participation learning.

Advantages include:

  • Simplifying learning by more direct communication of concepts and less symbolism, reducing the cognitive load when students are learning.
  • Enabling the student to have a completely personal learning experience.
  • Increasing attention span as a result of doing something enjoyable and motivating.
  • Providing the ability to see and experience things/places that couldn’t otherwise be accessed.
  • Encouraging group activity and interaction—and even global link-ups.
  • Offering students a boost to their digital literacy and computing skills.
  • Boosting a teacher’s ability to be creative with content in a brand new medium.
  • Improving opportunities for students who struggle to make sense of traditional forms of communication, e.g. children with dyslexia.

VR for teaching science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)

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There are huge opportunities for VR across the breadth of education but STEM subjects may be set to benefit the most from immersing students in content.

The success of Minecraft goes some way towards demonstrating this. This videogame—which involves creating structures inside 3D environments—made the leap into schools as educators realised its potential. Minecraft has been successful in improving visual-spatial skills and collaboration between students as they build scale models and “walk through” the structures they have created.

VR takes that one step further by immersing students in a virtual world. In a VR environment, students can walk around mathematical graphs and 3D surfaces, explore examples of complex engineering up close, and experiment in a laboratory without fear of doing anything dangerous or costly. It is possible to take a tour through the human body, from the perspective of a blood cell or molecule.

The World of Comenius project, for example, is using Oculus Rift headsets and Leap Motion controllers to deliver educational content. Still in development, the final program may include experience such as playing around with atoms at the quantum level, meeting people from history and exploring their world, or swimming around inside a cell.

The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Initiative has created a VR experience in which students can snorkel down the Conasauga River to explore its biodiversity and the issues of pollution and conservation.

Immersive 360-degree videos are proliferating on Facebook and YouTube, giving viewers a sense of depth in every direction. New consumer gadgets such as Samsung’s Gear 360 camera will make creating these types of videos straightforward for anyone, too.

Short documentaries are already being made specifically for viewing in VR, which temporarily transport the viewer into complex and difficult situations such as civil unrest in Hong Kong and the Ebola epidemic.

A new kind of learning experience

Using VR in education may actually alter the way in which we learn as it blurs and redefines the boundaries of formal education. Experiences can start to reach far beyond the classroom.

VR is a way to not only consume content but also to create content as part of the learning experience. Students can get involved with programming, problem solving and exploration of this new technology.

New VR learning platforms will offer teachers and students the ability to create avatars and create multi-player sessions to achieve a previously unattainable level of socialisation and outreach.

VR technologies such as 8i will allow 3D videos of teachers to be seen in VR—allowing students not only to see and listen to them, but also to walk around them and feel that they are sharing the same room. This remote, emotional connection would be ideal for tutoring at a distance, virtual classrooms and eventually live streaming conversations.

In the future, as augmented reality (AR) becomes accessible the opportunities are even more exciting, because students could visualise holographic-style media overlaid onto their real world surroundings.

Making VR a reality

It’s true that the vast majority of VR and AR technologies already on the market—or soon to be released—are relatively expensive pieces of kit, mainly targeting developers. Yet, as uptake increases, prices are set to become more affordable.

Low-cost routes into VR are available through simpler devices such as Google Cardboard that can be purchased for around £10 and make use of normal smartphones. Google’s Expeditions initiative is aiming to bring “virtual field trips” to every classroom.

At PAULEY, we’re passionate about integrating new forms of virtual, augmented and mixed reality into education to give pioneering educators an exciting opportunity to accelerate learning. With VR, here are truly no boundaries to where we can go and what we can learn.

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The Future of Mobile is Augmented

At the moment, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are focussed on industry and gaming applications, with the average consumer unlikely to start buying into the technology until 2017.

The rise of these technologies is unstoppable. AR market revenue is now forecast to reach $90 billion by 2020, eventually outcompeting VR, which is likely to reach $30 billion. At the moment, VR is more openly available and has emerging uses beyond videogames, in viewing films and sporting events.

Ultimately, we’re likely to see the two technologies merging into a new “mixed reality”. There’s huge opportunity for smartphone manufacturers to consider this by creating devices fitted with AR cameras and sensors.

So what kinds of AR and VR technologies are already out there? It’s the major developers like Microsoft, Google and Samsung that are grabbing the headlines, but there’s much more going on in the field of augmented reality than you might first think. We’ve summarised the key players and emerging competitors here.

VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality (VR) transports the user out of their everyday world and immerses them in a 360-degree environment. It gives users the chance to experience things that would be impossible in real life. While VR is generally more affordable and accessible at the moment, most headsets have to be tethered to a computer, limiting the range of interaction. Motion sickness can be an issue for some users but developers are working to overcome this.

The Oculus Rift headset is now available for pre-orders. At a pricey $599, the kit does include the headset, an XBox One controller and wireless receiver, remote and two VR games. Oculus also powers the mobile VR Samsung Gear (see next section).

Rumoured to be launching in Autumn 2016, PlayStation VR will bring VR gaming to a big audience and has the opportunity to turn it mainstream. However, many of the details are still under wraps.

On the other hand, the OSVR system (Open Source Virtual Reality) is designed to bring developers together to push forward the boundaries of VR. Focussed on gaming, it can be run on anything from a mid-tier gaming PC upwards. Its open source nature means that anyone with the right skills can build their own headset and adapt it as they see fit.

The HTC Vive is likely to be opening for pre-orders soon, and the waiting list is open for FOVE.

Setting itself up as the VR playground of the future, The Void team is working on its own RAPTURE head mounted display. This is very different to other VR experiences, because players move around a specially-created physical environment. Players on location in this “virtual entertainment centre” will also be equipped with haptic vests and guns, which offer real-time, physical feedback to events happening inside the game.

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AUGMENTED REALITY

Augmented reality (AR) superimposes interactive digital content into the real world. Unlike VR, AR systems are standalone and don’t need to be tethered to a computer. But this evolving technology is much pricier, putting it out of reach of the average consumer for the foreseeable future.

The big names in augmented reality are focussed on creating immersive, highly interactive and collaborative experiences, utilising gesture tracking and other technologies suitable for a broad range of applications.

It remains almost completely shrouded in mystery, but if successful, Magic Leap could open up AR to consumers—potentially transforming the industry. Recently gathering hundreds of millions of dollars in a series C funding, the company is working on an AR device that projects virtual images onto the real world.

Microsoft’s AR platform, HoloLens, is a holographic computer built into a headset. Completely self-contained, it allows the user to see, hear and interact with holograms being projected into their surroundings. High-definition lenses and spatial sound technology will create the immersive experience they promise.

Microsoft will be launching a developer’s edition of the device in early 2016, at a price of around $3,000. The company are already working with industrial partners on developing commercial applications for the device.

Set to launch any day now, a demo of Meta at a recent TED conference certainly went down well with the crowd. It showcased realistic holograms that can be turned, pulled apart and manipulated in mid-air, and the ability to collaborate with another user. While the demo involved use of a headset tethered to a computer monitor, the company say the computer will no longer be needed by next year.

Using an Android-based platform, the Atheer AiR system looks set to provide a rich AR experience. The headset is fitted with a 3D camera for gesture interaction, dual RGB cameras, stereo 3D displays with a wide field of view, microphone and suite of sensors.

The company sells a cloud-based software suite alongside the headset for building AR programs. While the first packs are shipping out in 2016, they’ll set you back a whopping $3,950.

Designed for the construction industry, the Daqri Smart Helmet AR system uses an Intel computer and visor for projecting information in front of the user’s vision. The Daqri Smart Helmet is also fitted with a 360-degree video to allow the wearer to scan his or her surroundings. It’s already being piloted with over 100 industrial partners.

Step-by-step work instructions, thermal vision readouts, live telecommunication with colleagues and data visualisations can be displayed to the wearer with the aim of creating a “safer, more productive, work environment”.

Smart glasses

As well as these immersive, interactive headset AR systems, there are a number of “smart glasses” in development that offer a more straightforward interface by way of heads-up displays, including LAFORGE Optical, Vuzix, Epson’s Moverio BT-200, K-Glass and the “world’s first augmented reality headphones,” ORA-X.

These approaches perhaps aren’t as sophisticated as the immersive, interactive holograms proposed by HoloLens and Magic Leap, but they’re accessible and potentially useful for both leisure and commerce.

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THE FUTURE OF MOBILE MIXED REALITY

Mixed reality—merging of the best aspects of the real, virtual and augmented worlds—is the future. It’s feasible that we’ll have the opportunity to bounce between VR and AR experiences. And users will want the ability to do that packaged up into one, affordable product.

Take one look at mobile VR and the most accessible device—the Google Cardboard—uses a normal smartphone and can be purchased for as little as $10. Even other options such as the Samsung Gear VR  and Fibrum have much more affordable price tags and offer the convenience of utilising the user’s own smartphone.

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Demand from consumers is likely to see the accessibility of mobile devices merging the real world with the holographic interaction of AR and the complete immersion of VR.

Here at PAULEY, we’ve re imagined the smartphone, equipping it with cameras and sensors to scan the user’s surroundings and detect gestures. We recommend Smartphone manufacturers offer the ability to provide VR and AR experiences with online content and live streaming – resulting in a single mixed reality device.

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A multi-walled carbon nanotube

How Will Nanotechnology Drive the Future of Transportation?

Nanotechnology is the use and engineering of materials at the nanoscale. Well below the microscale, this is the molecular world, where the things we’re talking about are just a billionth of a metre across. Things behave very differently here and that’s giving engineers lots of new ideas and abilities.

Nanotechnology isn’t anything new. But what is newly emerging is that we’re starting to become capable of engineering these “super materials” to our exact specifications and produce them on a larger, more industrial scale.

Graphene, for example, is a carbon sheet the thickness of a single atom. Yet, it is stronger than steel and possesses a huge range of incredibly useful properties, such as electrical conductivity, absorption of white light, and tolerance to temperature and pH change. Haydale are one of the companies manufacturing it for applications in transport.

Developing nanomaterials for the transport industries is a vital route forward to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from this huge sector, which produces a quarter of all the EU’s emissions. How? By making planes, trains and other vehicles lighter and modifying their surfaces and components to save on fuel—and potentially by completely changing the fuels they use.

Along the way, we could discover plenty more ways to use nanomaterials to improve and refine the machines we use to explore the world.

Lighter, faster & greener

Lockheed Martin has already used materials containing carbon nanofibres—so-called nanocomposites—in the Juno spacecraft and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

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A F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

These materials—often polymers containing fibres such as carbon nanotubes—are often incredibly strong and highly resistant to corrosion, vibration and fire, but are less dense those traditionally used. They are already being used to replace some of the metals usually used to form the frames in aircraft. Such a nanotechnology composite may be much lighter than a metal alloy, resulting in huge and ongoing fuel savings.

Nanostructured metals can add additional strength in vulnerable areas of vehicles. For aeroplanes in particular, areas under stress—sections around doors and windows, the undercarriage and parts of the plane especially open to bird strikes—can be better protected by nanomaterials.

Super surfaces & smart sensors

Smart, multifunctional coatings are also being researched. Playing with the surface of a material at the nanoscale can reduce friction and drag, increasing durability at the same time. Such nano-coatings are already being used on turbine blades and mechanical components of aircraft.

Other nanoscale-thick films and coatings could make vehicle surfaces fend off dirt, water, light, scratches, bacteria and even fog more easily. A lot of these paints and coatings are of great use to the automotive industry, as they have such excellent benefits for consumers. Who wouldn’t want a self-cleaning car that doesn’t scratch?

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A multi-walled carbon nanotube

The company Lamda Guard is working with Airbus to test their windshield film that although completely transparent, can deflect unwanted bright lights or lasers from the pilot’s vision. 

Nanotechnology sensors are also being developed for a range of applications that would require very little energy to function. They could be used to detect the release of dangerous chemicals in the holds of aircraft or monitor the safety of various structures and components.

Engines and energy changes

New catalysts include nanomaterials that help reduce fuel consumption. Nanoparticles are also being added to fuels to help them burn better inside the engine, resulting in lower fuel consumption, less exhaust and a cleaner engine.

For the automotive industry in particular, the move towards electric vehicles is gathering speed. Nanotechnology may be able to help with this by helping to improve fuel cell efficiency.

For some, the vision of new future fuels powered by nanotechnology is even more ambitious. EADS Innovation Works is working with the University of Glasgow to develop a new storage system that would bring hydrogen-powered aircraft closer to reality by safely storing the gas in a solid state.

Advancing infrastructure with nanotechnology

Nanotechnology isn’t just useable for vehicles—it will slowly change our transport infrastructure for the better.

As we’ve already described for vehicles, nano-composites will make roads, runways and rails stronger and more resilient, helping them perform better in the process.

New materials could generate, store or transmit energy and provide constant, unobtrusive monitoring of the condition and performance of surfaces and road structures. It is even possible that road sensors would be able to communicate with drivers to help them maintain their road position, seek out routes and avoid other vehicles.

Nanotechnology is already stretching beyond Earth and into space. NASA, BAE Systems and other researchers and manufacturers are confident that tiny, lightweight electronics and lighter structures will become a key feature of satellites and spacecraft. And nano-electronics is likely to pave the way for satellites—and vehicles on Earth—to become fully autonomous. Doubtless, nanotechnology is key to the future of transport.

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AwardsCombined

5 Ways To Drive Learning Innovation

We’re delighted with the news that PAULEY has been shortlisted for not just one, but two leading industry awards. In celebration, we’ve created a list of the five top ways to bring innovation into your organisation’s learning, training and development.

We’ve been nominated as a result of the advanced eLearning and virtual reality tools we’ve created for the state-of-the-art, multi-million pound National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR).

As a joint entry, PAULEY and NTAR are up for an award in “Training and Development” at the UK Rail Industry Awards 2016 and for “Innovation in Learning” at the Learning and Performance Institute’s 2016 Learning Awards.

Both awards ceremonies will be held in February, when the winners will be announced. Our fingers are crossed!

We’re incredibly proud of these successes, no matter what the final outcome. It’s fantastic to see the first UK rail trainees starting to use—and be inspired by—the immersive learning experiences we’ve created for them.

So, how can you start innovating with your in-house training and development?

NTAR_066Here are five ways to get started…

1. Experiment and spread your bets

Innovation isn’t cheap and the nature of it is that you find out what works and what doesn’t as you go along. Not everything is going to be a success just because you throw money at it. However, finding something that does work could save a huge amount on training costs and give you a rapid return on investment.

Start by investing in several smaller innovation projects, in the hope that one or two of them will prove their staying power. Depending on the size of your organisation, you could choose to work on these in parallel, or develop one at a time, learning from one to build on the next iteration.

2. Look at your learning culture

Companies at the cutting edge, such as Google, famously allow their employees time for pursuing personal projects. They argue that this time is essential for fostering innovation.

While you may not have the resources to give your staff a day every week to daydream, there are ways of gathering their ideas and encouraging creativity. Be sure to gather feedback from your employees on their learning and development and make sure it’s listened to. Or try running group debates or brainstorms to gather new ideas.

3. Find the key staff to achieve the vision

Every project needs spokespeople. Seek out the employees who seem to have an affinity to new technology and innovation and ask them what they think, give them ownership. Hopefully, their enthusiasm will be contagious and will spread upwards and downwards through your organisation to drive support for greater investment in innovative learning.NTAR_057

4. Find accessible technology partners

We’re always willing to offer free consultations and hands-on demos to organisations who know they want to innovate their learning but aren’t sure how. Choosing an innovation partner who is willing to create a bespoke solution for your organisation is vital.

5. Start small, aim high

We’ve worked with companies who have started simply: for example, by converting their paper-based CPD courses into electronic content. Often, those companies then see the results and want to go the extra step, and then maybe the next one, often all the way up to creating virtual reality classrooms by way of steady, incremental increases in innovation.

Those steps along the way are vital for smaller and medium-sized organisations in particular: you see what works best for your people and can gather funding one stage at a time until you have a range of transformative learning experiences that works for all.

If you’d like to explore how our cutting edge solutions could transform the way people learn in your organisation, please get in touch today!

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All change: Virtual becomes a reality for training in the UK rail industry

The use of virtual reality simulation in commercial training is gathering momentum. This week, Rail Minister Claire Perry opened the new £7million National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton and I was delighted to show Claire and other industry officials attending the launch just how much training has evolved in UK rail industry today.

PAULEY has developed the state-of-the-art virtual reality immersive training suite which sits at the hub of NTAR. We’ve used a combination of 3D modelling, virtual reality headsets and touch screen technology to deliver a real-life ‘hands on’ learning experience that will inspire and educate the next generation of engineers and apprentices and upskill people within the industry as well as those entering from other sectors.

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This is the first time that virtual reality headsets have been used for commercial training in the rail industry. It was great to see NTAR General Manager Simon Rennie’s vision coming to fruition and so many people trying out the fruits of our labour at the facility. In her opening speech, Claire highlighted the importance of joint industry and government initiatives like this in supporting economic growth, solving the burgeoning skills crisis in the rail industry and creating a world-class centre of excellence.

During the past six months we’ve transformed over 4,000 pages of training courses into 25 interactive learning modules, giving students the opportunity to get to grips with all of the critical components and warning systems found inside today’s high-tech train cabs. By simply wearing a VR headset, trainees are able to familiarise themselves with the workings of a train, right down to the nuts and bolts, in a safe and effective learning environment that just wouldn’t be possible down on the railway tracks or through traditional paper-based and classroom training techniques.

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For years e-learning and other methods of digital training have aspired to create an experience that closely replicates the classroom environment. At NTAR, we’re bringing training alive by using virtual reality to create a highly immersive, engaging and hands-on-learning experience that is far superior to classroom training.

Industry analyst Juniper forecasts that by 2020 some 30 million virtual reality headsets will be sold globally for consumer and business use, with hardware retail revenues set to exceed £3bn.  This initiative demonstrates the potential of virtual reality to engage today’s tech-savvy learners and to develop critical technical skills that are urgently needed across a host of different industry sectors. We are very fortunate to be part of this new wave of learning and it’s great to see so much innovation and industry collaboration taking place right here in the UK rail industry.

If you’d like to explore how virtual reality could transform the way people learn in your organisation and try out our courses first hand then do please get in touch.

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