In so many ways, technology is making life easier — from Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators that tell you when your milk is about to expire to facial recognition features that put passwords out to pasture. Its impact on training and development is also being felt the world over, changing the way companies train employees, engage sales networks and inspire customers. Whether you are onboarding new employees, enhancing the skills of existing employees, training on a new product or anything in between, harnessing the power of technology can help connect and engage learners with content on a deeper level than ever before.

CGS’ Enterprise Learning 2022 Annual Report’s survey of learning and development (L&D) professionals revealed 46% of companies plan to adopt emerging technologies into learning, training and collaboration platforms. It’s a number that’s sure to grow as more technologies become available to the training industry.

Consider these three highly immersive technologies when developing training and engagement tools for employees, sales teams and customers.

1. WebGL: up close and personal.

Let’s face it, not every product is easy to put into learners’ hands. Sometimes a product is simply too rare or too expensive to allow people to touch or interact with it. For example, one luxury Scotch whisky brand sells its rarest whiskies for several thousands of dollars a bottle. In fact, one of its rarest bottles sold at auction for well over one million dollars. You won’t find these rare whiskies sitting within arm’s reach on the shelves of your local liquor store. If you see them at all, they are kept far from reach, often behind glass. So how do you allow audiences to safely interact with the product? The brand used WebGL technology to create 360-degree bottles that learners can turn, view the labels and experience the product up close and personal. It’s more inspiring than simply reading about the extraordinary whisky or watching a video of others enjoying it. WebGL puts learners in the driver’s seat, allowing them to virtually experience products at all angles.

2. Extended reality (XR): Seeing is believing.

Often, the features and advantages that matter most are hidden deep within a product, not readily seen with the naked eye. While they may be beautifully engineered features that differentiate the product from any other in the industry, it is difficult for audiences to recognize or fully value them. Extended reality (XR) technologies, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), can bring learners as close as possible to these unique, but out-of-sight advantages. According to the same Enterprise Learning survey, 65% of large organizations plan to increase their use of AR, compared to only 34% the previous year. Greater numbers of companies are realizing the potential of this immersive technology.

Consider the example of a worldwide transmission manufacturer that needed to show the internal components, gearing, shift-speed and shift-patterns of one of its products. Employees, sales reps and customers couldn’t truly comprehend or appreciate the uniqueness of the product without seeing its internal workings in action. A 3D printed model of the transmission was created, along with an AR tool that triggered internal animations of the product working and provided explanations of each feature. The technology was expanded into an app for use online and at tradeshows, reaching not only employees and salespeople, but customers as well.

3. 3D Renderings: better than the real thing.

3D renderings and animations aren’t just for blockbuster films anymore. They’re being used to train employees and engage customers using visuals and simulations that often can’t be replicated in the real world. This technology takes a 3D model or engineering schematics and creates a lifelike 2D computer-generated image. The real beauty of this technology is that it’s often easier and faster to update than real images or videos, allowing businesses to keep their training up-to-date and relevant. It can even help brands launch or test products before they’ve been produced.

For instance, one specialty truck manufacturer was preparing to launch a new model. Training employees on the product and pre-selling it to customers was critical to its success, but the company had not yet produced a physical model. They turned to 3D rendering technology to create realistic visuals that not only show the exterior of the product, but take learners inside to see its superior engineering. Some of them couldn’t tell the difference between the 3D rendered images and the real ones of the finished product. Because the manufacturer was able to get a jump on its training and marketing efforts, the new product was a resounding success.

Using innovative training methods is critical in keeping employees and customers engaged. Immersive learning technologies like these deliver experiences that stick with learners and provide sustainable, easily updated resources they can reference time and again. When building your training programs, consider incorporating advanced technologies in unique, unexpected ways. The investment will reap rewards in more informed, engaged employees and customers who see and appreciate your brand’s and product’s differentiation.