JU researchers met the business community in Virtual Reality
Researchers and master's students at Jönköping University (JU) recently met with 20 company representatives in a workshop in VR (Virtual Reality). This was the first time such an event was organised at JU.
In the autumn of 2020, the idea was born within the research project PrepAIr at JU about a collaboration with the company Around The Corner, which organises meetings and conferences in VR. PrepAIr aims to study how the industry can prepare for an AI transformation, which among other things means adopting to new technology.
“This made the VR format extra interesting, and we have received a very good response for the workshop from the participants," says Anette Johansson, senior lecturer at JIBS and who was involved in preparing the workshop.
Five companies participated in the workshop
The event was attended by five researchers from the School of Engineering (JTH) and JIBS, four master's students from JIBS and 20 representatives from the companies Bufab, Combitech, Fagerhults Belysning AB, Husqvarna, and Siemens. The moderator of the workshop was Annika Engström, Assistant Professor at JTH. The PrepAIr research team has tested the VR technology before, but this was the first time that a public meeting was organised in a VR environment at JU.
“It was fun and educational to be part of the VR world. VR is a good alternative to other digital meetings. Much is about getting to know the technology and understanding the necessary content and what tasks are best suited for VR," says Anette Johansson.
“VR creates a spatiality online”
Around The Corner sent out VR headsets and controllers to the participants and had several practice sessions with the participants before the workshop. According to Anette Johansson, the great advantage of VR is that it creates a spatiality online with others in a completely different way than what is possible in Teams or Zoom.
“It also provides a higher mental presence because you can't multi-task, like replying to emails, when you have a VR headset on your head, which is otherwise easy to do. It was also fun to see all the participants as avatars. It was actually possible to recognize most of them," she says.
“The discussions were livelier”
Håkan Nilsson, Head of Business Excellence Industrial Gas Turbines at Siemens Energy AB, was one of the company representatives in the workshop.
“Everything worked out well and this workshop showed that VR technology is relatively mature and easy to absorb. The discussions in smaller groups in particular were livelier than at a regular digital meeting online," he says.
Håkan Nilsson thinks it is important to participate in this type of event with JU to get input about current research in AI and organizational learning, which they can use as a basis for their internal work.
“It was also very rewarding to hear the other companies' reflections on their work with AI and how similar our challenges are even though we are very different companies," says Håkan Nilsson.
PrepAIr is one of several projects within the research profile AFAIR, which is a major investment within SPARK and which runs over eight years. AFAIR aims to build a research and educational environment at JU within applied AI.
Read more about PrepAIr here (in Swedish only)