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Innovation is critical to Scotland's future


""If the construction industry is to continue to prosper in Scotland, innovation is absolutely critical.

Heriot Watt’s Immersive and Controlled Environment (ICE) project is indicative of the type of innovation and creativity currently taking place in Scotland, with so much more to come in the ensuing years.

While launching the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre at Construction Scotland’s Annual conference this month, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was able to experience the project first hand.

The pioneering virtual training initiative, part-funded by the Construction Industry Training Board,  allows users to experience challenging work conditions such as working at height, while benefiting from real-time feedback.

Using a virtual reality headset, the Deputy First Minister was able to experience Philadelphia from 115 feet, without leaving Glasgow.

ICE gives users the opportunity to experience these conditions in a safe environment. The project also includes motion trackers which help observers assess the performance of the user, such as assessing how users conform to training standards in terms of movement. 

These experiences are new to further education and provide endless possibilities for the future.

The technology has the potential to positively impact on the future of Scotland’s construction industry, allowing the country to stay ahead of the game in addressing health and safety in construction.

While there are major skills challenges facing the construction industry in Scotland, constant innovation will allow adequate training to be available to all and will help us face these challenges head-on.

The continued development of this cutting-edge project is exciting to everybody involved in an industry which is changing rapidly. These new approaches to training can help us appeal as far and as wide and possible.

The ICE lab, developed by Heriot Watt, is based at Edinburgh College. The second stage of the project is currently in development and eventually, users will be able to manually interact with objects in both the real and virtual world at the same time.

The Construction Scotland Innovation Centre itself will support Scotland in its bid to continue to grow via innovation.

The partnership with academia and government is crucial to drive profit and growth and continue to ensure the industry has access to a highly-skilled workforce.

The Innovation Centre provides a location for businesses and academics to interact and build on a mutually beneficial relationship. This partnership will help drive both sectors forward in the foreseeable future. 

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