The use of AR/VR technologies is on the rise and they are making an impact on the world of corporate training.

Augmented and virtual reality technologies can be used for more than entertainment purposes. There has recently been a steady increase of their use in corporate training. According to an article by CNBC, several fortune 500 companies reported that they have been integrating these new technologies into their training programs and they are getting positive results.

  • Tyson foods experienced a 20% drop in injuries after integrating VR into their safety awareness training programs [1].
  • Boeing Reported a 40% increase in productivity when they used AR technology in their electrical installation training [1].
  • Walmart employee retention rates increased by more than 10% after they started using VR technologies [1].

Although these technologies are both becoming popular in the training world there is a big difference between them and how they should be used.

Augmented Reality

Employees who feel confident in their ability to use a system are more likely to do so. Even the most user-friendly systems can have many working parts. Learning all the different components of new software takes time. In a recent survey by Really Simple Systems, it was found that 45% of participants reported using less than half of the systems functionality [1].

Giving employees time to practice using a new system will help prepare them so they have a deeper understanding of the program and all its features before they must use it with additional real-life pressures.

Virtual Reality

VR uses a 2D screen usually in the form of a headset to create the illusion of a virtual 3D world separate from the real world. This means users can turn their head in any direction and even move around like they normally would interact with the virtual environment.

In simpler terms, VR creates the illusion of a separate world and AR adds things to your view of the real world.

Some employees will learn faster than others and a lot this has to do with prior experience. Some employees may have worked with similar systems in the past while others may be new to the idea altogether.

When not to use AR/VR

Augmented reality is most effective when used to learn technical skills on the job and in live performance scenarios. An example would be Boeing’s electrical AR training program. Employees can use tablets to see instructions and steps as they work on a project. When used this way AR technology serves as a training aid. AR can also be used for virtual workplace tours where new hires can learn about their workplace as they walk through it.

Virtual reality is most effective when used to train employees on how to handle hazardous situations. Some examples would be emergency preparedness training simulations and complex machinery training.

Employees can experience life-like simulations of potential emergencies. Instead of talking about what to do if there was a fire or if a hazardous material spills an employee can act out the scenario in a safe 3D environment.

Virtual reality also reduces risks and potential injuries for employees who are learning how to use complex tools such as surgical equipment or heavy machinery. Additionally, VR can be used to help sales professionals with product knowledge training. These professionals can gain a deeper understanding of products they don’t normally use without the risk of injury.

Other Potential Problems

  • Motion sickness

Between 40%-70% of virtual reality users experience motion sickness after the first 15 minutes. The symptoms and severity vary. This can be a setback if you rely heavily on VR for training [2].

  • Updates

Updating training content on VR and AR technology is both time consuming and expensive. It is best to use training content that doesn’t need to be frequently updated.

Conclusion

Overall companies who use AR/VR technologies in their training programs have seen improvements in engagement, employee retention and productivity. AR technology is a great tool to use as an aid for on the job technical training scenarios. VR can be used to provide life-like simulations for safety training or to teach employees how to operate complex machinery without risks.

Sources

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/29/why-f500-companies-use-virtual-reality-to-train-workers-of-the-future.html

[2] https://www.insidescience.org/news/cybersickness-why-people-experience-motion-sickness-during-virtual-reality

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