Conference PaperPDF Available

Gamified Augmented Reality Training for An Assembly Task: A Study About User Engagement

Authors:
Gamified Augmented Reality Training for An
Assembly Task: A Study About User Engagement
Diep Nguyen
UniTyLab
Heilbronn University
Max-Planck-Strasse 39
74081 Heilbronn, Germany
Email: diep.nguyen@hs-heilbronn.de
Gerrit Meixner
UniTyLab
Heilbronn University
Max-Planck-Strasse 39
74081 Heilbronn, Germany
Email: gerrit.meixner@hs-heilbronn.de
Abstract—Augmented Reality and Gamification are displaying
beneficial effects to enhance user experience and performance
in many domains. They are widespread across many areas like
education, industrial training, marketing, and services. However,
the idea of combining the two approaches for an innovative
training instrument is fairly new, especially in assembly training.
Moreover, learning about the effects of gamification on human,
user engagement, in particular, is a complicated subject. There
have been several efforts toward this direction, yet the overall
situation is still nascent. In this work, we present a gamified
augmented reality training for an industrial task and investigate
user engagement effect while training with the gamified and the
nongamified system. The result shows that people perform better
and engage to a greater degree in the gamified design.
I. INT ROD UC TI ON
AUGMENTED Reality (AR) is growing stronger than
ever. Market research predicts a 70 to 75 billion revenue
for AR by 2023 [5] and by 2019 AR for training, in particular,
will take place in 20% of large enterprise businesses [6]. AR
is the novel technology which superimposes virtual objects
upon the real world subjects or environment while enabling
real-time interactions [1]. In recent years, AR has captured
the research interests in many areas such as education and
training [2], [13], assembly and production operations [3],
[4]. As a result, the outcome of teaching and learning, skill
acquisition and development as well as user experience have
shown outstanding beneficial effects.
Gamification, on the other hand, is the term for adapting the
design elements which commonly characterize entertainment
games into other settings but gaming. While the academic
world is still debating on the consensus of definition and
scope, the benefits that gamification brings are undenialble.
It is not uncommon to say that games are addictive, yet
beyond entertainment purposes, they are believed to better
life in many aspects [9]. Gamification’s ultimate goal is to
simulate the fun elements that enhance the user experience,
improve worker productivity or advance student engagement.
Since gamification is often mistaken with the meaning of the
“serious game,” which is any full-fledged game that used for
other purposes exceeding pure entertainment, we limit the
work in this paper to the most widely accepted definition of
gamification [10]:
Fig. 1. The GAR design with gamification elements: points, progress bar and
signposting.
“Gamification is the use of game design elements in non-
game contexts.
Since both AR and gamification already have their certain
contribution into the education field, in the context of training
especially, it is surprising that gamified AR systems have
not been popular for training in the production environment.
Accountable for this probably is the fine line between making
work fun and making fun of work [7]. Due to the nature of
productional work, the misuse of the gamified systems could
take away the user’s focus attention and result in damages or
even injuries. Therefore, here we attempt to form a gamified
AR application for an assembly training task following special
design requirements for a production environment. Our focus
is on the user engagement aspect because it is an important
factor contributes to the effectiveness of training.
II. RE LATE D WOR K
Although the term “gamification” is relatively new, since
around 2003, its applications have already widespread across
many industrial as well as scholarly fields. Recently in the
Gamification 2020 report, Gartner predicted that gamification
in combination with emerging technologies will create a
significant impact on several fields including the design of
employee performance and customer engagement platform [8].
In this context, there are numerous examples of studies for
Proceedings of the Federated Conference on
Computer Science and Information Systems pp. 901–904
DOI: 10.15439/2019F136
ISSN 2300-5963 ACSIS, Vol. 18
IEEE Catalog Number: CFP1985N-ART c
2019, PTI 901
either AR training or gamified training, yet there was hardly
any work on the combination of those.
A recent survey of Seaborn et al. [14] provides a good
overview of gamification from a Human-Computer-Interaction
perspective in both theoretical and practical lights. The work
showed that gamification is primarily practiced in the domain
of education, e-learning especially. In the theoretical founda-
tions, there was a dynamic movement towards carving the
boundaries between gamification and other similar concepts.
The applied research, meanwhile, painted a positive-leaning
but mixed picture about the effectiveness of gamified systems.
Despite usual expectation, similar gamified designs under
different settings returned clashing result over user experience
along with performance. The reason was believed to be highly
context-specific requirements. Furthermore, learning about the
effects of gamification on the human is a complicated subject.
The overall effort toward this direction is still nascent.
While the gamified system was well accepted in business
contexts, it is not necessarily the case in production training,
left alone Augmented Reality training. K. Lee [13] showed that
AR for education and training innovation was leaning towards
the “serious game” pole while gamification was left outside
of the picture. According to Lee, AR games were particularly
interested in by both “educators and corporate venues.” A role-
playing game for teaching history [11], for example, proved
the benefit of enabling students for problem-solving, increas-
ing collaboration and exploration via the virtual identities.
However, whether we like it or not, production training is
different from traditional classroom training. When transform-
ing the operational work into a game, a serious game, there
will always be a risk of taking the focus away from the task at
hand. This is when gamification comes to play as integrating
gamification can provide the fun aspect while still keeping the
workers’ full attention on the operative job [12].
Probably the most well-known gamification in production
is a series of works from Korn et al. [15], [16], [17], [12].
The center of his works is to evaluate users’ acceptance of
gamification in modern production environments. Different
designs, “Circles & Bars” and “Pyramid,” were proposed [12].
Both designs were used to visualize work steps as well as their
sequences. Color-coded from dark green to yellow, orange and
read is employed to indicate user specific time progression.
Later on, they were projected into users’ working space as
an assistive application for impaired individuals. The result
indicated a good acceptance level for gamification designs
and the “Pyramid” approach was favorable in general. While
the study showed a promising outcome, it focused on user
acceptance and did not measure the quantitative factor of
gamification on task completion time and error rates.
III. IMP LE ME NTATION
In this section, we present the implementation of the
application under study. A process of replacing the battery
for a robot arm was implemented based on the instruction
manual of the Mitsubishi Industrial Robot RV-2F Series [18].
The application ran on the Microsoft HoloLens [19]. Two
Fig. 2. The NGAR design with no gamification elements. Only text instruction
was provided.
prototypes were made, one with the gamification design and
the other without. The designs were named Gamification AR
(GAR) and Non-Gamification AR (NGAR) according to their
characteristics. Due to Microsoft HoloLens small field of
view, around 35 degrees, here we provide the user interfaces
captured from Unity Editor to showcase the whole scene setup.
Figure 1 and Figure 2 illustrate the GAR and NGAR design
respectively.
A. The application
The process for changing the battery was identically built
for both prototypes. There were 21 actions made up 10
steps. Disassembling the cover of the battery compartment,
for example, included two steps of removing the screws and
removing the cover. While removing each of the screws was
counted as an action.
For navigating the process, we augmented the instruction
text for each step as a head-up display which was always
facing the user at the top right corner of the user view. An
instruction manager was used to control the flow of text
visualization. The requirement from the instruction manual
specified that the steps of the process had to be performed
in a fixed order that’s why only one instruction was displayed
at a time. The next instruction triggered when the user carried
the current step correctly.
Two main interaction types were used to simulate different
interactions. Air tap [19] was used for interacting with static
objects (e.g. pressing a button) while we utilized drag and drop
for assembling actions (e.g. removing the screw). Similar to
the real working space, disassembled objects were designed to
be placed at a specific location. For instance, the screws needed
to be placed inside a designated tray instead of dropped on the
floor.
To simulate a sense of reality, sounds such as robot arm
were running or turned off were used.
B. Gamification Design
The game design elements were implemented only for the
GAR version. It allows to isolate and analyze the effect
902 PROCEEDINGS OF THE FEDCSIS. LEIPZIG, 2019
of gamified system on the user. This could be reflected by
comparing the outcome of the two experiments.
As a result of Korn’s investigation [12], gamification in the
production environment has its own specific requirements. To
avoid resistance from users or the potential of taking away
their main focuses, we followed the identified requirements
in designing gamified application for production settings.
First, “keep the visualization of gamification simple.” This
focuses mainly on avoiding animation, moving elements and
using complex graphical structures. The second and third
requirements come together as “avoid explicit interaction with
gamification elements” and “support implicit interaction with
gamification elements.” For that matter, in our designs we did
not ask for any user’s effort to direct input or reach out to the
gamified items.
1) Point System: The point system was built based on users’
actions. There was a maximum of 21 points according to 21
actions. Points were rewarded to the user when the action was
done. As the first attempt to study the effect of gamification
design on user engagement, we did not implement a complex
point system with losing points or rewarding extra points at
this stage.
2) Progress Bar: While the points were based on actions,
progress bar visualized the steps. As stated as one of the
requirements, the user interface was intentionally kept simple
with only one color. Additional text was in place for indicating
the percentage.
3) Signposting: Signposting aims to direct the user in the
right direction. While users without background knowledge
could be confused with the mechanical part names (e.g. Con-
troller box), signposting highlighted the part corresponding to
the currently displayed instruction. It provided the “just-in-
time” hints for the trainees, especially the totally beginner one.
IV. EXP ER IM EN T DES IG N
The experiment was conducted to investigate how gamifica-
tion in AR training impacts user engagement and performance.
The studies for both conditions (GAR and NGAR) took place
in the same room at our research laboratory. To avoid the
learning effect, we employed the between-group design in
which each participant randomly exposed to only one design,
either GAR or NGAR.
Due to the fact that Microsoft HoloLens requires specific
hand gestures for interaction, the participants were asked if
they have experience with this device. In the case of none,
the participant used the default HoloLens “Learn gesture”
application. This was especially important because the main
task could not be carried on without this step. Before the
experiment, regardless of the HoloLens experience, we re-
peated the main information about the interactive gestures to
all participants.
Once the participants were confident interacting with the
device, the main experiment task proceeded. When the user
hit the “Start” button at the first scene of the application, the
timer for measuring task completion time was started until the
last step completed.
As we focused on the user engagement we used a post-
study questionnaire with the refined User Engagement Scale
(UES) [20]. UES is a five-point rating scale: strongly disagree,
disagree, neither disagree nor agree, agree and strongly agree,
respectively from 1 to 5 point. Given the task was not
complicated, the level of fatigue after that was expected not
to be high so that we decided to use the UES long form (UES
- LF). The UES - LF consists of 30 items covering 4 factors:
1) FA: Focused Attention
2) PU: Perceived Usability
3) AE: Aesthetic Appeal
4) RW: Reward Factor
As constructed in the guide to use of UES, all items were
randomized and the indicators (e.g. AE.1) were not visible to
the users.
V. RE SU LTS
Most of the participants reported having little or none expe-
rience with AR technology, in particular, Microsoft HoloLens,
before this experiment. So, a potential novelty effect when
initially establishing interaction with new technology might
influence the research result. The test population was 22 par-
ticipants with 11 regarding each condition. Participants ages
vary from 18 to 34 years old, 15 male and 7 female subjects.
Although some unease and uncertainty were expressed at the
beginning, all participants were more certain after the learning
gesture phase.
Figure 3 displays that the GAR design was rated better
in all sub categories. In general, it was clearly preferred to
the NGAR approach. The overall Engagement score was 15.2
(SD=1.8) in GAR and 13.3 (SD=3.5) in NGAR. However, this
did not make up a statistically significant difference between
the two groups. Table I provides the results in more detail,
looking at the average score, standard deviation and also the
result of a t-test for both the overall engagement score and its
factor.
The standard deviation in the overall user engagement
score was much lower in the GAR design (SD=1.8), versus
SD=3.5 in NGAR, which shows that the GAR subjects more
homogenously perceived the result throughout the group. This
tendency, lower standard deviation, remained true for all four
subfactors in the GAR design as shown in Figure 3. On the
other side, the opinions of NGAR subjects seem to be more
diverse.
Looking at the training performance, the difference regard-
ing average task completion time (in seconds) between the two
study conditions is statistically significant. The t-test resulted
in p < 0.032. The average time was 306.9 (SD=123.2) and
439.5 (SD=134.4) for GAR and NGAR groups respectively.
This positive outcome probably directly influenced by the
signposting design element.
VI. DI SC US SI ON A ND FU TU RE WORK
As a preliminary result, this work demonstrates the potential
of gamified AR training for assembly tasks in improving user
engagement and performance. Nevertheless, there is a need for
DIEP NGUYEN, GERRIT MEIXNER: GAMIFIED AUGMENTED REALITY TRAINING FOR AN ASSEMBLY TASK 903
Fig. 3. User Engagement Score as a bar chart with indicated standard
deviations.
TABLE I
COM PARI SIO N OF USE R ENG AGE MEN T SCO RE
Factor Mean Score (SD) p value
Design GAR NGAR GAR vs. NGAR
Focused Attention 3.5 (0.6) 3.2 (0.8) 0.418
not significant
Perceived Usability 3.7 (0.5) 3.4 (0.7) 0.281
not significant
Aesthetic Appeal 3.9 (0.7) 3.3 (1.2) 0.162
not significant
Reward Factor 4.0 (0.5) 3.4 (1.2) 0.128
not significant
Overall Score 15.2 (1.8) 13.3 (3.5) 0.153
not significant
further investigation focusing on both short-term and long-
term training effectiveness. A consideration over skills and
knowledge acquisition should be taken into account. To serve
this goal more complex tasks should be implemented with
a higher level of gamification, different training levels and
challenges design for individual specific demands for example.
As we focused on the improvement of user engagement
in gamified AR training, we did not take in to account the
isolated effect of how each game design elements affects the
user. As mentioned in the Related Work, gamification design is
highly context-specific so that the next important step will be
a qualitative study on how the users perceive different design
elements and their impacts.
VII. CON CL US IO N
The use of gamification in combination with AR for pro-
duction training is still new and its potential needs further
exploration. In this paper, we developed a gamified training
for an assembly task in AR setting and studied its effects on
user engagement.
The result showed that the users displayed a higher level of
engagement as well as better performance with the support of
gamified AR training. The statistical analysis, though, did not
indicate a significant difference.
While the implementation of gamification may not yet
fully integrate into the training process, this work certainly
contributes to the existing knowledge body of gamified AR
training for production domain. This research area also needs
a greater amount of works to identify its benefits alongside
with how to tackle its challenges.
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Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR) or Extended Reality (XR) applications may be used as an innovative educational tool. Devices such as Oculus Quest 2 offer the possibility of using passthrough view and hand tracking which enables user to interact with virtual environment and see his surroundings. These functions enable the preparation of training applications, in which the user is able to simultaneously see his workplace and the number of generated job instructions or practice work-related activities without losing contact with the environment. This opens up a number of opportunities related to broadly understood education. The article briefly discusses the developed concept that allows for training in XR, in which user interactions with virtual elements are as close to the real ones as possible. The development of interactions using hand tracking and passthrough are described.KeywordsMixed realityEducation processObject manipulation
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