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What will the workplaces of tomorrow look like? Northeastern researchers are developing technologies to shape that conversation

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08/31/23 - BOSTON, MA. - A fireside chat with Tye Brady, Chief Technologist, Amazon Robotics, is held in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex auditorium during the NSF Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier Principal Investigators Meeting hosted by Northeastern University on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University
A fireside chat with Tye Brady, chief technologist for Amazon Robotics, is held in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex during a National Science Foundation meeting hosted by Northeastern University. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

It’s not far-fetched to imagine that one day it will be commonplace for manufacturing and warehouse workers to get trained using augmented reality headsets. In fact, a group of Northeastern University researchers are in the process of developing and testing that kind of technology today. Mohsen Moghaddam, a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at Northeastern, is leading a project that takes advantage of mixed reality headsets from companies like Microsoft to develop AI-based coaches used to train facility workers.

In an interview, Moghaddam played out one scenario where these types of assistants would be ideal. “You put the headset on, and it instantly scans the environment and provides you with instruction in the form of audio, text, video and immersive animations that are superimposed in 3D space on top of the physical objects in your scene,” he says. “Let’s say you need to unscrew a bolt. It can point to that bolt and provide you with an animation of how you’re supposed to do that on screen.”  

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