The paper describes the development of a multimodal environment that can be used as a tool to train operators to perform maintenance tasks of industrial products during their lifecycle. The environment provides a visual and haptic representation of a product through the use of commercially-available hardware and software technologies. The new environment mixes interactive simulations of products, based on Virtual Reality technologies, and the information included in the traditional instruction manuals. The paper discusses about what can be effectively simulated with the available technology, and how the current technological limitations can be overcome by using the potentialities offered by a multimodal approach. Technology limitations can also be overcome by mixing two different strategies for coupling parts: the physics-based and the constraint-based approach. A case study provided by a company working in the field of household appliances has been used to prove the concept, to develop, test and finally refine the multimodal environment. The paper describes the development of the multimodal environment and presents the results of the user tests.

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