Corporate training is evolving, with powerful tools, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), becoming the norm. Both AR and VR offer employee simulations, scenarios and information in a secure, risk-free environment.
The demand for AR and VR in corporate training has caused a dramatic increase in the global market. Statistics show market growth is now projected to reach $2.8 billion by 2023.
There are several benefits to using AR and VR for professional development. In my opinion, these are the top five:
1. They make training more innovative and enjoyable.
2. They create experiences that are impossible in any other form of training.
3. They teach through practical simulation rather than theoretical concepts.
4. They offer a practice playground that encourages users to learn from their mistakes.
5. They encourage employees to explore at their own pace and in their own style.
There are key differences between AR and VR, however, and how they affect learning. At The Game Agency, we find that choosing which technology to use for each of our training solutions is a critical step in planning for the success of a new platform, as they each offer different potential. Understanding these differences is key to choosing which tool is right for your training curriculum.
AR works just like the name suggests. Simply put, AR integrates aspects of the digital world into the world around us. This can occur in the form of text or three-dimensional images. AR is usually presented through smartphones or tablets. And recently, Google released glasses that allow people to view and interact with the digital world.
The healthcare industry is an early adopter of mixed-reality learning services. For example, AccuVein uses AR to assist healthcare professionals when finding a patient’s veins. The company uses a device to view a map of a patient’s veins on the skin’s surface. This helps to improve healthcare professionals’ ability to puncture the veins with increased accuracy.
But healthcare is not the only industry that has taken to AR. Some of today’s top manufacturing brands are using AR on wearable devices like smart glasses. These devices can expedite job-related training and accelerate knowledge transfer. They can even provide remote video collaboration to resolve issues in real time.
For example, workers at GE Healthcare use Upskill's enterprise AR Skylight platform with smart glasses. The device allows them to kit and complete orders faster by delivering order-picking information directly into the worker’s line of sight. The platform integrates with existing warehouse systems and provides real-time information to workers on item location, as well as step-by-step instructions for locating items in the facility. Boeing employees also use Skylight with smart glasses, allowing them to simplify the wire harness assembly process for jet engines.
Virtual reality differs in that it completely immerses users in a virtual world. With the help of goggles or a helmet, everywhere a person turns, moves or looks appears as part of a different world. Based on my experience, VR appeals to millennials, who now make up the largest sector of the workforce.
As businesses work to appeal to the younger, more tech-savvy millennials, we find that they are adopting VR more and more. Younger generations have grown up using technology in their everyday lives, and many members of Generation X and Generation Y consider it an important part of their lives and the future, including their careers.
Lockheed Martin, for example, uses VR heavily for training spacecraft technicians to save millions in rework on a physical product. Predominantly used for its Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory in Denver, VR provides the bridge between the company’s engineering teams and production workers when putting the final touches on spacecraft design, extending to satellites, probes and even human-rated crafts like Orion. NASA, the United States Air Force and commercial customers all benefit.
How To Use AR And VR To Make Your Content Compelling
By now, you might be convinced that AR or VR is the right solution for your company, but you might be wondering which technology to use and how to use it most effectively. I recommend answering these six questions to determine the best path forward.
1. Who is your target audience? Consider their background, level of experience, existing knowledge base and comfort with technology. By addressing these factors, you can begin to define what type of AR or VR experience will satisfy their needs.
2. How do you want to use AR or VR to train your audience? Are you looking to create a game, a product simulation or something else?
3. Does your content lend itself to a storyline? By building a narrative, you can help users relate to the content and create an emotional connection, making your training memorable.
4. What can you do to make the user experience aesthetically appealing? Strong visuals are a powerful tool. Although it can be tempting to cut corners on visuals, this will often have a negative impact on the user’s experience. With AR and VR, you need to decide whether you want to layer your visuals on top of the real world (AR) or immerse the player into a virtual world (VR).
5. How can you make the user experience fun and challenging? It’s a balance that’s not always easy to get right. Users like a challenge, but it’s critical to avoid a level of difficulty that discourages users from continuing, as the end goal is for users to practice skills or learn new information.
6. What hardware do you have available for users to engage with your solution? For example, does your company provide workstations, head-mounted displays or mobile devices on which to use the AR or VR technology? Or is it BYOD (bring your own device)?
There’s a lot of buzz about AR and VR, and the two technologies are only going to become more common in the years ahead. Embracing and experimenting with these technologies today will make your training more effective tomorrow.