Co-Founder and COO at VR Vision Inc an immersive technology group that is developing virtual and augmented reality solutions for the future.
When 2020 started, no one could predict the pandemic would envelop the world for months after. In fact, here we are nearing the end of the year, and Covid-19 is still very much around, wreaking havoc on world markets and healthcare systems. During this period, many businesses are being forced to pivot and change, from wearing masks to implementing mandatory work-from-home policies. To put it succinctly, it doesn’t show any signs of changing anytime soon. One area that many are looking at with enterprise training is how virtual reality (VR) is impacting businesses and making training safer and more immersive at the same time.
VR is nothing new and has been prevalent in our society for almost half a decade now. Still, only in the past few years, we have started to see businesses look to adopt the technology. With the current global pandemic, we have seen the old training methods go by the wayside as organizations shut down their classrooms and move to online and virtual methodologies. No longer is it possible to have a classroom full of trainees because social distancing measures have impacted businesses far and wide.
Working remotely is becoming the new norm, and with teams connecting on Zoom and similar platforms online, there has been a resurgence in online mediums. With my experience in the VR sector, I have seen many clients adopt immersive technology for developing full-scale training simulations that can be downloaded and digested from anywhere. This allows training to continue safely while adhering to the new normal of distancing rules mandated by many governments worldwide.
Businesses that are looking to adopt this technology for training should understand that it’s not necessarily looking to reinvent the wheel. Instead, it’s looking to replicate real-world scenarios for replayability in a safe and controlled virtual environment. This type of immersive training can relate to a wide variety of industries and niches but typically works best with jobs that are process-oriented and can be easily mapped out virtually. This allows trainees to have a first-person perspective of the job they will be conducting and challenges them to play through a full simulation that mimics the real world. From wearing protective equipment and PPE all the way to performing routine maintenance and repair, the possibilities for training types are endless.
In collaboration with Facebook Reality Labs and Oculus Quest, my company recently developed a case study for wind turbine technician training. The trainees go through a virtual simulation of the exact routine maintenance scenario they perform in the real world. Overall, the reception was positive, and all participants in the study said they were better suited for real-world applications after attending the VR training. Brands should be aware that with new technology, there is a slight learning curve in the beginning, so when developing their own simulations, they should have a gradual build-up to the desired learning outcome.
Another great example of VR training having a massive impact is at Johnson & Johnson, which has been innovating surgeon training and has seen an increase of approximately 233% in student scores when using VR for learning versus traditional methods. This methodology also allowed it to train more surgeons faster than before while giving them a “hands-on” experience without ever working on a live body. This causes less harm to prospective patients, with less harmful operations and a much higher success rate overall, while keeping patient satisfaction scores higher than previously possible.
VR has tremendous applicability for simulating dangerous scenarios where there is a high degree of risk or harm. As a harm-reduction tool, full simulations can be developed to mimic real-world scenarios that would otherwise be dangerous. Another use case currently under development in-house is that of a nuclear reactor technician. In the simulation, the user is tasked with preparing and performing maintenance on a reactor core, which would otherwise be impossible in the real world due to the dangers involved.
In my professional opinion, I can see more and more businesses adopting this technology because the merits outweigh the faults. It has the ability to not only save lives, but also increase training turnaround times, which saves money. Adopting this immersive technology is a no-brainer. As we head into the last months of 2020, I predict we will see many more brands look to adopt the technology to improve their bottom line.
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