Whilst conceived in the 20th century, virtual and augmented reality (AR and VR) have only really come into their own in recent years. Starting in the entertainment sector, now these technologies are providing businesses with vital training and learning tools in the workplace.
The impact of AR and VR or, more broadly, extended reality (XR), in motivating learning and knowledge retention is staggering. We have all sat through dull training PowerPoint presentations in the knowledge that we will only remember 20% of what is said in the room. Conversely, compelling evidence in PwC’s report “The Effectiveness of VR in Soft Skills Training” suggests that VR increases learning retention by 75 to 90%, improves engagement rates by up to 95% and improves overall employee performance by 70% … and it’s not hard to see why.
AR and VR shines in its ability to personalize the learning experience for individual users and areas where both learners and businesses really benefit.
More Effective and Engaging Training
Businesses are beginning to take advantage of the extensive benefits that XR can bring to corporate training. With the right tools, businesses can now develop and deploy their own XR learning experience with minimal training and in a matter of minutes. This is a significant improvement on previous iterations of learning experiences, which are less immersive and which don’t offer the same level of engagement that this technology affords.
XR also allows for a quicker onboarding process. In addition, employees who complete onboarding in VR or AR can gain a much broader view of the organization, faster, with real-time 360-degree video content. The results speak for themselves: Research has shown that VR training leads to a 35% improvement over e-learners to act on what has been learned in VR training, the PwC report found.
Many industries are already starting to use XR to great effect in industries that you would expect, such as in highly technical, manual jobs like engineering, construction and manufacturing, where there is a big safety component. In logistics, for example, XR can help employees collaborate better and optimize logistical operations. The rise of online retailing, for example, means that there is an ever-increasing demand for staff in warehouses and distribution centers. There is also typically high staff turnover in these industries, meaning that it is vital to train and get new staff up-to-speed quickly and effectively on work environments, processes and tools. XR can help by enabling new staff to familiarize themselves with what might otherwise be an unnerving new location by providing them with specific, interactive guided tours. In a simulated-yet-realistic environment staff can be directed to key components and processes that are vital for carrying out their new role.
With VR/AR training, learners can be taken through processes such as onboarding, picking and packing, health and safety training, inventory training and customer support from a single system and with reduced training times. With XR technology, staff can be trained in a safe environment before moving into potentially hazardous environments, eliminating real-life risks.
Likewise, the manufacturing industry has also found great use cases for XR. Given that the industry is under pressure to deliver innovation faster and at a lower cost, XR has emerged as a useful tool to help create initial designs and develop digital prototypes, including improving production and delivery to market. For an industry that relies on engineers and technicians to quickly identify problems and carry out maintenance, XR offers a way to experience situations virtually.
While these industries are gradually adopting XR training, other industries such as the health care and pharmaceutical sectors have led the way in adopting these technologies due to the clear benefits they provide. Some health care companies have used XR to deliver scalable training across departments, with a need to build training experiences in standard operating procedures for health and safety, process training and to improve compliance.
Proof of its success in the sector is clear: According to a recent study, VR training could improve patient outcomes by 83%, as shown during a hip arthroscopy in a randomized controlled trial. Evidence shows the transformational potential of the technology helping learners in research, manufacturing, planning and product demonstrations.
While the list of sectors and industries where XR can be used is extensive, it also offers learners and businesses more options in the way in which training can be delivered.
XR interactive live streaming, for example, provides a fantastic way for remote users to visit a real place, in real-time and from anywhere. Learners can feel like they are visiting their chosen location, whether it be a warehouse, a hospital or an office, while being guided by a real person in real-time. This allows learners to interact with objects and people, elevating the learning experience and leading to greater knowledge retention.
Aside from live-streaming solutions, XR can be delivered through multiple channels, aided by devices which are readily available to learners. XR can be accessed through a website, or a learning management system, and across any head-mounted display (HMD) and/or personal device. This opens a world of possibilities for learners who don’t have to be restricted to learning in a designated location. Learners have a greater suite of options when it comes to accessing material, offering greater flexibility for accessing training when, where and how they want it.
Undoubtedly, implementing XR is a giant step toward achieving a more immersive learning experience. Given the multitude of use cases and options for integration, XR offers not only a highly effective tool for onboarding and training, but also an on-demand solution for employees. For businesses looking for tools and technologies to help train employees in hazardous environments without exposing them to risk, or for employees that want to learn through their chosen medium, the immersive nature of XR offers an unparalleled experience.