An extremely interesting talk from Dr Aleksey Kozikov on using AR to allow students to operate equipment in a lab remotely.
We introduce augmented reality (AR) in online physics laboratories and demonstrate their operation. It allows students to see the real and virtual world overlaid with each other. Webcams stream videos of real hands-on experiments live into students’ computers. Virtual objects (buttons, switches, cables, etc.) overlay with the real scenes. As users handle virtual tools, they perform required tasks of experiments. We will also discuss advantages of having AR labs.
Equipment was set out with a webcam in front of it. . The webcam was linked to a micro controller which allowed students to control it remotely. Students logged into an onscreen control panel. Virtual buttons were placed over the top of real buttons on the machines to allow students to have the effect of pressing them. The camera worked by using markers which were placed on the machines to help the camera with tracking and keep the virtual buttons in place.
There were also 360⁰ virtual tours of labs. Students could enter and walk around the labs, click on icons to learn more about equipment and click a weblink to a browser to do the experiment. There was no need for software, just a browser. Only necessary functionality was available. No need to log into university computers, and students could work remotely in groups.
Red circles were used as markers for the camera. Next steps were to use Fiducial markers (small QR codes) which can provide much more information. They are also looking for students to be able to use handheld controllers with VR glasses in future development. These would also be used in person in the labs and they would be able to comment to someone through the glasses on Zoom.
This concept may be transferable to some experiments done in FMS labs.