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in Cooperation with Alstom AG

iPOLE stands for Project Oriented Learning Environment. It is an international and interdisciplinary study platform that permits the development of innovation projects in cooperation with industry partners.
This helps strengthen and combine the students’ disciplinary knowledge with collaborative project-oriented working within a multicultural environment. iPOLE specifically targets industry-relevant topics in the field of human-computer interaction, with elements from computer science, interface / industrial design, digital media and management.

iPOLE - The Future of User Manuals; Augmented Reality and Smart Glasses in Cooperation with Alstom


This year's iPOLE is carried out in collaboration with Alstom. Participating educational institutions are the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW; Merz Akademie, Stuttgart; Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne and HSE Design School, Moscow. The course is lead by the Computer Science Department of FHNW. Approximately 30 students in five (possibly six) trans-disciplinary teams will work on the design and development of augmented reality concepts for future user manuals under the guidance and supervision of more than 10 faculty members.


POLE, iPOLE, Alstom, User Manuals, Smart Glasses, Augmented Reality, design thinking, user centred design


The goal is to develop prototypes applying new concepts utilising the idea of user manuals in an augmented reality context and how this implementation will help a company like Alstom.

Initial situation

User manuals have slowly become bland and disinteresting methods of learning a certain task/process. With new emerging technologies we set the question: how can this change? Smart glasses which are slowly spreading in the market seemed to be a useful tool for implementing a way to instruct someone on a very specialised task.

Process and results

Once the virtual Kick-Off took place via video conference, the students were given their first research task to complete until the physical Kick-Off week in Windisch. In a team building process, six disciplinary and nationally mixed groups of around 6 students came together to set up the further planning: What goals have to be achieved? How to distribute the tasks? What do we expect from each other, what kind of problems might come up? The students would also visit Alstom's factory in Birr where they would see a demonstration of the steam turbine, one of the primary machines aimed to be fixed and accessed using the new smart glasses prototypes.

When the teams left Switzerland to return to their home countries, the project would continue with regular virtual meetings. The teams would have to continue brainstorming and ideation, set up scenarios, design appropriate user interfaces for the task and create prototypes showcasing how it would all work together in the end.

When the project came to a close after a six month working period, the teams returned to Switzerland for the final presentation. The six teams each had a solution and prototype which were presented in front of a jury which was made up of the industry partner, experts in the relevant fields the project dealt with and the coaches from the participating universities. Below are the results of the project:

Team Spock


Team Skywalker


Team HAL


Team Neo


Team McFly


Team Stark


Project details

Duration: 1 Semester
Teams: 6
Size of teams: 5-6 Persons

Industry partner

Alstom AG

Project lead iPOLE

Doris Agotai, FHNW, School of Engineering, Computer Science Department

Christoph Holliger, FHNW, School of Engineering / Academy of Art and Design


Partner Universities

FHNW, School of Engineering
FHNW, School of Applied Psychology
Merz-Akademie, Stuttgart
Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne
HSE Art and Design School, Moscow


Doris Agotai, doris.agotai@fhnw.ch

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