Immersive VR Technologies

Keep Calm, VR is Still Alive and Kicking

If you have any interest in Virtual Reality technology, then you’ve probably come across articles claiming that “VR is dead.” However, this claim lacks awareness and understanding of what is really going on within the industry.

Here’s Why VR is Not Even Close to its Deathbed

History Approves!

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to… What does history tell us about emerging technologies? In particular, what do Atari Pong (the 1st commercially successful game), the internet, social media, and VR have in common? Well, two things come to mind – they are revolutionary, and they initially advanced at a fevered pace.

A view of a joystick of a vintage arcade videogame - Coin-OpDuring the early adoption phase of the Internet, there was high cost and limited accessibility. You had to go to a particular location-based facility (similar to VRrcades) to access content. What about today? You can casually read this article over a low-cost and easily access the internet connection on your smartphone or PC. This technological trend is not isolated to the internet. Back in 1979, a team of visionaries from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center created the Alto, which was the first personal computer and the product of years of technological developments compiled in one device. Here’s what one of the greatest minds of our generation had to say in about it:

“And within ten minutes it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this someday. It was obvious. You could argue about how many years it would take… You couldn’t argue the inevitability, it was obvious.”

-Steve Jobs

 

Similarly, David Whittinghill, an ICT and computer graphics professor at the Purdue University Polytechnic Institute, who has been in the VR industry since the early 90s reiterates Steve Jobs’ statements in the context of VR when he states;

“We’re still in the Wild West phase on this…This is going to happen, but there are some basic problems we’re still chipping away at. We’re still figuring it out.”

Over the last decade, investment in VR continues to rise at a rate of approximately 21% annually. According to a report by the intelligence analyst, CB Insights, VR investment in 2017 stood at $2.3 billion and Facebook invested over $100 million in their Seattle Oculus hub. Additionally, YouTube VR Creator Labs, Oculus for Good, and Google’s Jump Start program are still supplying funds and tools to immersive content creators. If these developments don’t prove that VR is still alive and kicking, maybe the recent Pulitzer prizes gracing the cabinets of the USA TODAY NETWORK for their VR experiences will.

Hardware is Etching Closer to Unveiling the Full Potential of VR

One day we will look back at the expensive and bulky hardware associated with VR and laugh it off – remember the size and limited functionality of the first mobile phone? With the heavy investments in VR highlighted in the section above, VR for the masses is coming sooner than you think. Take the example of the Oculus Quest, which is expected to be released in 2019. For as low as $399 this 6DOF headset is an all-in-one standalone device with revolutionary capabilities.

The promise of VR is reminiscent across the board as evidenced by the recent CES 2019, whereby different startups and big players alike showcased their remarkable strides in making VR an even more comfortable, and realistic experience. Examples of a few interesting developments include DisplayLink’s wireless VR compression technology, omnidirectional treadmills, haptic gloves, photorealistic displays, and Anti-latency’s little IR emitter that will make it easier for developers to offer warehouse and room-scale VR at an affordable price. (No wonder Rowan Atkinson’s latest Johnny English Strikes Again film featured a VR setup complete with a standalone headset, a treadmill, and real-world simulations.)

The CES 2019 set the pace for an exciting year and future for VR technology. The headsets we’ve been waiting for are finally within reach. It’s up to the hardware manufacturers and content creators to work together.

A Sustainable Developer Ecosystem: The Driver for Exponential Growth

What comes first? Head-mounted Displays (HMD) or quality immersive content? Like the chicken and the egg, this is a cycle that doesn’t seem to have an end. It also highlights the potential and future of VR technology. Now, to answer the question: the team at Immersive VR technologies doesn’t believe that it matters which comes first. We need both aspects to grow and sustain the VR developer ecosystem, which has been patiently waiting for its big moment. As these developments catch up, the ecosystem will flourish as HMDs sales increase and companies scramble for a piece of the pie.

The Naysayers’ Perspective Debunked

There are often two sides to a story – but there is always a middle ground. To provide an unbiased picture of the topic, we will highlight the concerns voiced by critics regarding the ‘health’ of VR along with our counter-arguments. So, what are the reasons behind these ‘death’ accusations?

  1. Focus on Gaming

In a 2017 article appearing in Tech Crunch by Natasha Lomas, the author argues that This VR cycle is dead. Although she makes a decent attempt to discredit the future of VR, her argument contained one critical flaw, she focused solely on gaming. What about the use of Young teacher using Virtual Reality Glasses and 3D presentation to teach students in biology class. Education, VR, Tutoring, New Technologies and Teaching Methods concept.VR for military simulations, in the medical field, education, industrial application (as recently announced by Tesla), user testing, retail, or even for employee training? Don’t these commercial uses factor into the applicability of VR? Looking at VR from the narrow lens of gaming applications is limiting. It’s similar to going back to the 90s and grounding the future of the internet on its applicability as a platform for online gaming while ignoring all the other uses that we nowadays enjoy (research, communication, shopping etc.) Even from a gaming perspective, a Steam Hardware & Software survey indicates a 276% increase in Steam users with VR devices connected to gaming platforms over the course of 2017.

“Market Outlook Remains Positive”

-IDC

A year after her post, statistics from the  International Data Corporation (IDC) seemed to contradict her assertions. Although the worldwide shipment of VR devices in 2018 declined by 33.7% from 2017, the commercial sector witnessed an increase in deployment pointing to an increased used by the medical, educational, training, industrial, and military sectors. But the most surprising statistic was a 417% increase in the shipment of standalone VR headsets.

  1. Slow adoption

Let’s be honest, VR has not yet lived up to the over-ambitious heights it was tipped to achieve. But that’s okay, neither was the internet, Atari, or Pong. They needed the popularity of arcade to push the technology and bring their ideas into the mainstream. Experts at Immersive VR technologies and countless other players, including the IDC, which is the premier global provider of market intelligence believe that the future of VR is brighter than some people think. We cannot expect a revolutionary industry like VR to be an overnight success. Currently, VR is in its creation phase – the technology is being invented, improved, and modified on a daily basis. VR is playing the long-game and we can expect to witness more milestone events in the near future.

  1. The Costs are too High

One of the main setbacks to the mainstream adoption of VR devices is the relatively high cost of devices such as the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive Pro. From an enterprise perspective, the cost of incorporating VR is actually cheaper than conventional Cheerful male enjoying his pausealternatives. VR tools are significantly cheaper, safer, more effective for workforce training, military drills, industrial application, and medical application among other uses.

From an average consumer’s viewpoint, yes, the prices are on the higher side. But this again points to the issue of the ‘developmental stage.’ In a consumer market, prices are often determined by production costs, competition, and the forces of demand and supply. As the technology advances and the competition between major players (e.g. Oculus and HTC), Small and Medium scale enterprises (SMEs), and indie developers intensifies, we can expect to see a dramatic decline in the prices of standard VR devices. Currently, businesses are increasingly setting up location-based VR centers for gaming (VRcades) and other uses to solve the issue of cost.

  1. VR Devices are Bulky and Cumbersome

This points to the size of VR headsets and portability issues. Sure, some devices are bulky, but so were early computers – nowadays we have highly portable smartphones with a processing power similar to the computer that took us to the moon. This is a simple case of an interaction between technology and supply & demand. Besides, this is all about to change if some of the items unveiled at the recent CES 2019 are anything to go by.

What is the Takeaway?

We will let you make a conclusive decision regarding the health and future of VR, but if you consider history, the statistics, and you happen to share the same sentiments as Immersive VR technologies, then it’s obvious that VR is NOT dead! Our experts see great opportunities for diversifying business across the arcade environments and retail to reach a wider audience. If you are an investor, this is an early chance to plant your flag before the inevitable mainstream adoption tips the scales.

Immersive VR Technologies Employee Training and Industrial Applications

Game On: Increase Employee Efficiencies and Training Retention with Virtual Reality

The current business landscape is highly competitive – increased ease of entry, technological advancements, exit barriers, product homogeneity, economies of scales, globalization, and a favorable economic climate. Therefore, having productive and highly motivated employees is more important than ever. There are two undeniable facts regarding the role of employees in an organization:

  1. Employees are an organization’s most valuable asset! Their motivation and performance have a significant and direct impact on the short-term and long-term objectives of a company.
  2. Effective training plays a big part in ensuring that both seasoned and entry-level employees contribute to the bottom line. The HR Magazine approximates that an investment of $1500 on each employee increases annual revenue by 24%. Conversely, ineffective training may cost you $13.5 million every year per 1000 workers.

The complication arises in recruiting and training employees – finding and nurturing effective employees is not straight-forward. It’s fairly common for an organization to spend millions of dollars hiring employees that are not suitable for their organizational culture. A study by Gallup shows that 51% of employees are disengaged in their organizational roles.

As a company manager, what would you do if you found out that there is a technology that can facilitate employee training in a safe environment, is cost-effective, increases training retention, and even helps you ascertain each employee’s strengths and weaknesses? Sound ‘game-changing,’ right? This is exactly what the gamification of employee training through Virtual Reality technology offers!

An Overview of Gamification

What is gamification and how is it applicable in employee training? Simply defined, gamification is the application of game-principles and game-design elements in a non-gaming context to make it more entertaining and engaging – it is about making experiences better (i.e. an amplification tool). Companies have actually been using gamification in their training programs through engaging corporate events or competitive sports to boost teamwork. VR takes gamification a step further by providing an immersive gamified experience. But is gamification necessary? The answer is a definite, Yes! Here’s why:

  1. Employees enjoy the feeling of achievement associated with winning rewards and gathering points.
  2. It’s easy to participate thanks to current technological advancements – even your smartphone can be used as a VR device.
  3. Employees are highly likely to retain the content.
  4. Users develop a positive image of the organization they have interacted with.
  5. Gameplay feedback makes the learning experience objective.

According to The Gamification of Learning and Instruction, a book by Karl M. Kapp (professor of Instructional Technology), “Don’t think of gamification as only the use of badges, rewards, and points; instead, think of the engaging elements of why people play games.”

Why Should you Gamify your Employee Training?

It’s understandable that businesses operate on a risk vs return framework. Corporate leaders and business owners may wonder, why should I invest in VR technology to improve employee productivity when there are other conventional methods? Kindly consider some statistics to help you make an informed decision regarding why VR is the future of employee training.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the millennial generation will represent 75% of the workforce by 2030. This a generation characterized as tech-savvy and hyper-connected. Similarly, a recent poll by Zogby showed that 57% of young adults (18-34 years) play video games more than 3 times a week. These individuals (who will dominate the future workforce) said that video games are important for the development of life and work skills. This includes learning to create winning strategies (67% of respondents), solving problems (70%), teamwork (63%), resolve conflicts (70%), and understanding new technologies that will be useful in life (66%).

Based on the above statistics it goes without saying that incorporating gamification as a tool for employee training will connect with the millennials’ psyche. As your organization adapts to the digital era through strategies such as social media marketing, it’s prudent to consider the composition of your future workforce – through gamification and VR technologies. Companies such as Ups, Wal-Mart, KFC, Japan Airlines, and SAP have already seen the potential of VR for employee training.

Achieve your Organizational Goals and Objectives

The obvious goals of a training program are to influence behavior and impart relevant knowledge. Conventional methods such as one-on-one presentations and classroom sessions are often ineffective in sustaining an engaging environment. This leads to low retention, and you can guess the rest – the goal of influencing behavior is not achieved. Gamification aids training by mitigating the risk of low retention. And the competencies of this technology start all the way from the recruitment stage. Below are the benefits of VR in the gamification of employee training.

  • Measuring a Wide Range of Skills: Gamification through VR technology helps facilitate a comprehensive assessment of skills including behavior, aptitude, and problem-solving abilities under pressure.
  • Simulate the Role of Employees in an Organization: Simulating real-work scenarios helps create a clear perspective of an employee’s suitability for a job in any field. This helps the management assign employees to appropriate positions and ensure the employees are aware of their job description.
  • Make Learning Fun and Exciting: Gamification ensures that the participants are visually engaged in a work-scenario, in which they can relate in a casual manner. The feedback, points, and leaderboards create an intrinsic motivation to be more productive.
  • Increase the Retention Period: Take the words of Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s Founding Fathers: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Fast forward to our current period, whereby Kapp describes gamification as an engaging tool that “is not just for the points – it’s for the sense of engagement, immediate feedback, feeling of accomplishment, and success of striving against a challenge and overcoming it.”
  • Cost effective: Immersive gamification tools are a budgeting department’s best friend regarding employee training. Consider complicated function in an industrial, pilot, and medical training that involve expensive equipment and safety risks. Gamification simulates a safe and inexpensive environment whereby employees get adequate exposure to the work environment without the risks.
  • Employee Productivity: As highlighted above, gamification has a direct impact on post-training retention and employee engagement. What does this mean for productivity? Upward trends and achievement of organizational goals.

Immersive VR Technologies

Companies must blend their work activities with games to keep afloat in a highly competitive environment, characterized by a millennial workforce. It’s a ‘company-eat-company’ jungle out there, don’t use antiquated tools when there are advanced tools such as VR to give you the competitive edge necessary for survival– take it from our prehistoric ancestors.

It does not matter whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium-sized company, we believe that VR is for everyone and for every field (industrial, scientific, medical, office, technical, warehouse, etc.). The immersive technology can revolutionize the outcome of your employee training programs, and consequently increase productivity. But it’s not that simple, you need a partner who is aware of VR technologies and their applicability, and is able to gauge your organizational culture.

At Immersive VR Technologies, we are dedicated to understanding the concerns of your employees. This includes conducting an analysis to determine specific needs in your workforce and working with your organization to design an effective training program. Are you willing to learn more about how gamification can revolutionize your employee training initiatives? Get in touch with one of our representatives to discuss gamified solutions.

Immersive VR Technologies Virtual REality

Reap the Rewards by Utilizing Virtual Reality for Employee Training

Immersive VR Technologies Control Room SimulatorIt is commonly known that most people learn by doing, which is why virtual reality is so important to so many people around the world.  After all, why should someone listen to another person explain how to do something over and over again for days, only to still not understand, when they can do it themselves virtually, and master that skill in a shorter amount of time!

Companies are slowly realizing that none of their employees are the same and that they all cannot have the same type of training to be successful in their jobs.  The companies that have come to this realization were slightly worried with how they would tackle employee training in the future until they discovered virtual reality.

While integrating virtual reality into a workplace for employee training can be costly in the beginning, those costs are recouped in the future.  The main costs lie within the technology itself, as well as the devices that would need to be purchased for the employees to share.  However, those costs do get lower, especially once everything is in place and the training begins.

In fact, a company’s training costs should decrease once the virtual reality training is in place.  The reason for this is that numerous instructors will not be needed to train classrooms full of employees.  There will not need to be any scheduled training classes either, as employees can sign up for a time that is convenient for them to do the training that they need.  Employees can also spend as much time as they need honing their new skills, which means that some people will be finished with training much sooner than others.  This equates to less money being directed to their time in the classroom and more money directed to their time doing their actual job!

Colleagues testing virtual reality simulator at work.

Of course, the virtual reality employee training can also save companies that use a lot of specialized equipment quite a bit of money.  Any employee that does not use the equipment that they need to in the right manner can cause damage.  That damaged equipment can get worse over time, which means that it will eventually need to be replaced.  Some employees may not even be aware that they are not using the equipment the right way, which means that they cannot correct their mistakes before it is too late.

Once these employees start using virtual reality and get the proper training on the machines that they are using, they will not need to wonder if they are using them improperly again.  In fact, after virtual reality training, those machines will have less damage in the future, which means that the company will be saving even more money.

There are numerous benefits to utilizing virtual reality for employee training, but three of them stand out the most.  The first was mentioned a little bit above, and that is that no one ever learns in the same way as other people.  Some people may be able to listen to instructions and follow them completely the first time around, while others may need to spend time doing the same thing thirty times before they can do it on their own.  There is no right or wrong way for a person to learn, but it is helpful to everyone if they have the tools that they need to do it the way that works best for them.

According to Immersive VR Technologies, virtual reality is the best tool for employee training, because it can be adjusted according to each individual’s needs.  That means that no employee will ever need to struggle through a training session again!

The second benefit that companies will see is that employees will be able to have an immersive learning experience.  Nothing will be in two-dimensional form, in black and white in a book for a training class.  Instead, employees can turn on the virtual reality training program and be taken step by step through the entire process.  Instead of looking at a photograph of a machine, they will see that same machine in front of them, like it is actually there.  The employees can touch the machine and do everything that they could as if it was real.

An immersive learning experience is a lot more fun that reading a book and droning on and on about what is in it too.  This type of learning will allow each employee to see and feel everything that they would when they start doing it for their job.  This allows them to get excited about it, as they learn new ways to do what they are being trained on and maybe even find a few shortcuts that can help them save time and perform their job better in the future.

The third benefit of virtual reality employee training is that the employees are given a space to make mistakes and they are not limited on the number of mistakes that they can make.  After all, no one is perfect in this world, and most of the time, the only way people learn is by making mistakes.  Plus, it is better for employees to make these mistakes in a virtual reality setting instead of when they are doing their job.

Employees using virtual reality on their own, or in a group, can benefit from the mistakes that are made during the process.  Every mistake that is made during the virtual reality training can then be used as a learning tool to show people what they can and cannot do.  Those mistakes can also get every employee thinking about other things that can happen when they are performing their job and they can recreate those scenarios in the virtual reality setting to see what the outcome would be and how they could change it for the better.

Once companies begin using virtual reality for their employee training, they will immediately see an improvement with their employees’ performance and skills.  That alone will make them see that virtual reality is the only way to train now and in the future.