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Are Digital Humans Better at Imparting Ergonomics Training Online? Here's What Research Showed

Texas A&M study shows digital humans match traditional training efficacy, heralding a potential revolution in remote workforce education.
PUBLISHED APR 6, 2024
Pexels | Photo by Canva Studio
Pexels | Photo by Canva Studio

Remote work has evolved from an option to a norm in the aftermath of the pandemic and is clearly here to stay as firms are adopting hybrid work models to. The efforts to assimilate traditional offline work culture with the virtual landscape have led to the creation of "digital humans," which are lifelike avatars equipped with text-to-speech and speech-to-text interfaces. Research conducted at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health has now revealed that digital humans are capable of delivering online training as effectively as their real-world counterparts.

Man Using Laptop on the Table With a Cup of Hot Beverage | Pexels | Photo by Lisa Fotios
Pexels | Photo by Lisa Fotios

The "digital human" is a computer-generated depiction of a person, possessing human-like attributes and capabilities. Picture it as a fusion of artistry and technological prowess, where 3D animation techniques meticulously sculpt a lifelike visage, complemented by the infusion of artificial intelligence, which imbues the creation with vitality and responsiveness.

Aguilar underscores the significance of their findings amidst the proliferation of AI-driven interfaces. "Digital humans can be customized in terms of their appearance, language, personality, script, and gestures," she explains. This flexibility opens avenues for tailored training experiences that traditional online platforms struggle to provide. To gauge the efficacy of digital human training, the researchers recruited remote workers from a telecommunications company.

Spanning various sectors, these AI-driven virtual assistants are reshaping the landscape, providing unparalleled levels of interaction, productivity, and customization.

Participants were randomly assigned to three groups, namely digital humans, conventional online training, and a control group receiving no training. The digital human and conventional training groups received identical content to ensure a fair comparison, with the former receiving double the number of participants to address potential technology-related challenges. Before and after the training, participants completed questionnaires assessing demographics, remote work practices, ergonomics knowledge, ergonomic behavior, and musculoskeletal discomfort.

Both the real-world and digital human groups exhibited improved ergonomics knowledge and reduced musculoskeletal discomfort, showcasing comparable outcomes. However, only the conventional online training group demonstrated statistically significant improvements in ergonomic behavior.

Despite the parity in outcomes, the study illuminates the promise of digital human-based training in enhancing the ergonomic knowledge and practices of remote workers. Aguilar emphasizes the significance of this research amidst the surge in remote work and technological advancements. Innovations in remote ergonomics training are paramount for fostering a healthy and productive workforce.

People on a Video Call | Photo by Anna Shvets | Pexels
People on a Video Call | Photo by Anna Shvets | Pexels

Even though digital humans didn't emerge as superior ergonomics trainers in the study, Aguilar highlights the untapped potential of leveraging their conversational abilities for enhanced effectiveness. Customization and interactive engagement could catapult digital human training into a league of its own. In essence, the study heralds a new frontier in ergonomics training. Digital humans offer a versatile and engaging alternative to traditional methods, with the potential to revolutionize remote workforce education. As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, investing in innovative training solutions is imperative for fostering employee well-being and productivity. The implications extend beyond ergonomics alone. Digital humans represent a paradigm shift in how we approach online education and training across various domains. From customer service to education, the versatility of digital humans holds promise for transforming countless facets of our digital interactions.

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