Into the Virtual Sea

Stig-Einar Wiggen and Salman Nazir. Photo
Stig Einar Wiggen from Kongsberg Digital and Salman Nazir from the Department of maritime operations.

A large research project at USN will explore the possibility of using virtual, augmented and mixed reality in education and training of maritime personnel.

“We are confident that the proper use of this new technology will make it possible to provide better, more efficient and less expensive training of maritime personnel”, says associate Salman Nazir at the Department of Maritime Operations at USN.

Nazir is head of the research group Training and Assessment Research Group (TARG), which is currently running an extensive research project that will provide knowledge about the possibilities in the use of virtual, augmented and mixed reality for the maritime sector.

Learn more about the project at NRK: 


The project, called "InnoTraining", is driven by a partnership between USN and Kongsberg Digital (KDI). Politecnico di Milano University and Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology are also involved in the project. The cost of the project is 13 million NOK, and the Research Council of Norway is providing up to 50 percent of the funding.

This is the first major research project that looks at how virtual, augmented, and “mixed” reality technologies can be used in education and training in the maritime sector and the opportunities they bring. The results of the project could have spillover effects in other fields such as aerospace, where this type of training is also highly relevant.

Anne Kari Botnmark. Photo

“A grant of this size from the Research Council shows that this project will generate highly sought after knowledge. We are honoured to receive the award and delighted that we have the right competencies to develop simulators based training and education as well as add a whole new dimension”, says Anne Kari Botnmark, who heads the Department of Maritime Operations at USN.

Increasingly common

Many engineers, platform workers, sailors and a number of others working in the maritime industry currently receive education and training in highly advanced and high-cost simulators.

Currently artificial reality is primarily used within the entertainment industry and is rarely applied in education. US defense is among the few, highly sophisticated environments that are adopting this new technology.

Nazir predicts that in the next five to ten years VR goggles will be as common as smartphones, and that virtual reality will be a preferred choice when it comes to training and education, in a variety of fields.

“First and foremost, this technology makes it possible to provide training and education for a fraction of the price of what it costs to establish and operate a large simulator park. Another aspect is that this form of training enables a higher degree of individual training, which can make the training more interesting and relevant. In addition, the glasses makes the training more realistic and intuitive, making the training itself more user-friendly”, explains Nazir.

Teacher hologram

The project focuses on both the higher learning and opportunities for evaluation when the new methods of learning are developed:

“It is obvious that the way we evaluate the training material must be changed in line with the methods used. For example, we can picture how the instructors can be integrated into the system and act as holograms that can communicate and interact with those who train or receive training”, explains Nazir.

In the forefront

“This technology is potent enough to revamp parts of the traditional simulator training. We do not know how or when this will happen but we are confident that it will happen. We trust that this project will give us important answers while placing us at the forefront when it comes to developing and implementing new products”, says Stig Einar Wiggen, head of research at Kongsberg Digital (KDI).

For the Department of Maritime Operations and USN, close ties to the local business community is a priority:

“We are very pleased to have Kongsberg Digital (KDI) on the team. For us it is important to collaborate closely with the industry. It is one of the reasons we exist: to get projects from businesses and to solve these”, says Botnmark.

A growing academic environment

USN is in the process of raising the level within the maritime professional education. Among other things, they have recently established a doctoral programme in nautical operations, and the research project "InnoTraining"  will trigger a PhD related to the program.

Salman Nazir came to USN in 2014 as a key person to lift our maritime education and research in the field. Nazir has a post-doctoral position funded by Vestfold County.

Virtual Reality:

Virtual reality (VR) typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user's physical presence in this environment.

A person using virtual reality equipment is typically able to "look around" the artificial world, move about in it and interact with features or items that are depicted on a screen or in goggles.


Augmented Reality:

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.


Mixed Reality:

Mixed reality (MR), sometimes referred to as hybrid reality, is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality takes place not only in the physical world or the virtual world, but is a mix of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality.