Implementation of smart assistive Augmented Reality work and training stations
Name of Practice: Implementation of smart assistive Augmented Reality work and training stations
Description of organisation: Lichtwerk is a Belgian cooperative society, founded by EASPD members Groeps Gidts and Emino, and work integration social enterprise Mariasteen. Lichtwerk's main goal is to contribute to a 100% inclusive labour market. We focus on "technology first" services, inclusive technology and a "Go digital, stay human" approach. Through our approach and focus, we want to support vulnerable groups in obtaining a full place in society, both in the domains of employment and (lifelong) learning.
Country: Hooglede, Belgium
Year of initiation: 2017
Funding: Lichtwerk's own funds and government subsidies
Link to UNCRPD: Article 27 - Work and Employment
Description of Practice: Lichtwerk's goal is to create an inclusive labour market so that people with disabilities, and other individuals with a certain distance to the labour market have access to paid employment. To achieve this, Lichtwerk provides smart assistive Augmented Reality work and training stations, powered by LightGuide AR software. This solution has so far been installed in social enterprises, manufacturing companies, schools, and training centres. Operators feel supported by the technology while following the lights and digital guidance and can handle complex processes.
The solution replaces written and oral work instructions with an intuitive and intelligent guidance program that complies with the highest quality standards and that makes the workspace safer and more inclusive.
Problem targeted: Work integration social enterprises (WISEs) must continuously adapt to a changing global industry. The orders they receive from their industrial customers are more diverse than before, and the requirement for high-quality products is only increasing. Moreover, students in special needs secondary education face increased difficulties in finding a job in WISEs compared to before. Implementation of LightGuide technology can help these target groups find a job by providing a more specialised training that is easier to adapt to differing job requirements, and hence more efficient to cater for a changing labour market.
Other WISEs and schools saw the success of technology and experienced a strong demand for offering a service to companies that want to implement this kind of assistive technology on their workfloor. To provide an answer to this demand, Emino, Groep Gidts and Mariasteen created Lichtwerk. The cooperative society now implements AR and other assistive technologies in WISEs, but also in the regular economy and in educational settings.
Solution offered: Lichtwerk's smart assistive Augmented Reality work and training stations guide operators with cognitive, developmental, intellectual, or mental impairments, but also non-native speakers or people resuming their job after severe illness to perform new tasks in a simple manner. The solution offers ‘cognitive support’ through the projection of digital work instructions on any work surface, providing operators with visual guidance, feedback, and confirmation. This helps them to better learn new complex processes. The solution replaces written and oral work instructions with an intuitive and intelligent guidance programme that complies with the highest quality standards and makes the workspace safer and more inclusive.
The assistive technologies implemented by Lichtwerk can be used as permanent support, but also for (re)training and educational purposes. By deploying assistive technologies such as these, companies can more comfortably and readily employ diverse groups of individuals, regardless of their disability.
Impact generated by the practice: In order to obtain an objective view on the impact generated, human-centered research was commissioned in 2018 and 2020, involving more than 60 people with a distance to the labour market. The results were clear. The assistive technology has a positive impact on the operator's well-being, minimising the stress experienced when learning or executing complex tasks. It also encourages them to be more autonomous in their work.
The technology contributes to a more inclusive labour market, as more people with a disability (for whom the distance to paid work would be too big without assistive technology) can find employment in the social or regular economy. The implementation of LightGuide in educational settings contributes to this inclusiveness since it makes the transition to the labour market easier.
Sustainability of practice: Besides selling smart assistive AR work and training stations, Lichtwerk assists companies and vocational education training centres in the digital transformation process as well as in the setting up of digital work instructions. The instructions and training stations can be adapted to new tasks and new employees, making it a modular, future-proof system. Lichtwerk is now looking to expand its activities by working with international partners to reach more customers and push for more diversity across the economy.