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Innovative Technologies to Mitigate Experienced-Workforce Shortages

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0018698
Agency Tracking Number: 237196
Amount: $149,834.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 05a
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001771
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-02
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-04-01
Small Business Information
100 E. Rivercenter Blvd., Suite 100
Covington, KY 41011-1507
United States
DUNS: 128933996
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Angelia Sebok
 (720) 699-1509
Business Contact
 Terence Andre
Phone: (859) 415-1007
Research Institution

A crisis is brewing in the utilities industry. Out of date infrastructure and a rapidly retiring workforce contribute to a new generation of workers who find themselves unable to quickly and effectively solve problems. TiER1 Performance Solutions and the Gronstedt Group propose a solution that will put the power of augmented reality (AR) and the knowledge of experienced utility personnel into the hands of field operators. Our solution will bridge the skill gap in the utility industry and equip the workforce with the information they need to solve problems, at the point of need. Specifically, we propose to develop an augmented reality (AR)- based solution, the Distributed Sharable Knowledge (AR-DiSK) toolkit, to address three challenges in the utilities industry: (1) the impending wave of knowledge loss, (2) the burdensome cost of training and knowledge management, and (3) the need to support management in the development and deployment of employees. AR holds the potential to profoundly change skill development and performance support, and provides a key component of the DESK toolkit. In particular, AR-DiSK will support (1) distributed collaboration through the use of AR technology; (2) the gathering knowledge and expertise from workers during real-time operational scenarios, structured interviews, and annotated “how to” videos; and (3) ready access to a library of resources, including videos, just-in-time training, procedures, “helpful hints,” and SME contact information. To support collaboration, AR-DiSK will enable remote experts to work “side-by-side” with field workers through a live camera feed streamed through the AR headset worn by the field operator. Talking through two-way voice communication, the remote expert will guide the field technician through the work by annotating the technician’s view with instructions that the expert provides on a touch screen. Using x’s, numbers, and arrows, the expert will indicate the correct sequence of buttons to press, or levers to switch, to resolve a problem. The field technician sees these instructions overlaid on the physical object through their AR headset. The remote expert employs instructional videos or 3D instructional animations as needed. Procedures from a manual become 3D holograms that walk the operator through a task. Animations provide the field operator with “x-ray vision” of underground cables and other hidden features. The user experience replicates an expert at the user’s side, regardless of location. In addition to supporting collaboration, AR-DiSK will enable the gathering and recording of expert inputs and will provide a library of resources, including tools to support knowledge elicitation, knowledge management, and design systems, so that information is easily accessible to the personnel who need it. Phase I provides the foundational analyses necessary for the development of AR-DiSK. The main Phase I tasks are to map potential AR solutions to utility industry challenges, identify specific use cases and constraints, and develop a storyboard prototype of a knowledge elicitation and sharing tool.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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