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 AR Apps

What do you know about Augmented Reality (AR) Technology?

Have you heard of the Pokémon Go craze? Or better yet, used Snapchat filters? Well, did you know that these mobile applications are based on augmented reality technology? Augmented reality is part of our daily lives, and it is here to stay! According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), AR is expected to achieve a compounded annual growth rate of 71.6%by 2022. So, what exactly is augmented reality, and what is its potential?

Augmented Reality Defined

To augment is to enhance or add something. Therefore, augmented reality refers to the process of adding touch feedback, sound, and graphics into our physical environment. Computer-generated images are superimposed on a user’s real-world views by utilizing complex algorithms to map and identify objects in the natural environment.

Wait, doesn’t this sound similar to Virtual Reality (VR)? Although AR and VR are based on similar concepts, the latter creates an entirely new and immersive reality rather than overlays over the natural environment – everything you hear and see is simulated. The Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets are some examples of VR devices.

How Augmented Reality Works

Augmented reality technology is not as complex as it sounds. It can be simplified into the basic computing interaction of input-processing-output.

  • Input: Cameras and Sensors

The process of ‘augmenting’ reality starts with capturing and gathering data (depth, tilt, position, acceleration etc.) from the natural environment with cameras and sensors. Typically, real-time data is captured using your mobile device’s built-in camera or advanced devices such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. After gathering the user’s interactions in the real world, the sensors transmit the data for processing and interpretation.

  • Processing

Your mobile phone and AR devices are basically small computers. They contain a global positioning system (GPS), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth microchip, RAM, flash memory, a GPU, a CPU, or even magnetometer (compass direction), gyroscope (tilt and orientation), and an accelerometer (speed). These components enable the devices to analyze and process the real-world input.

  • Output: Projection

After information from the natural world is captured and analyzed, the AR device projects digital renderings (virtual output) onto the scene. These projections may display directly onto surfaces, multiple screens within a headset, or your smartphone screen.

In the example of mobile games and apps, the device’s camera is used to locate objects in the natural world, and transmit them to the application for processing. The application then overlays virtual content on top to provide interactive animations or information.

Background Information

Did you know that augmented reality technology was invented as early as 1968? Yes, this innovative and futuristic technology was in existence before The Beatles broke up. The first AR technology was developed by a Harvard University professor, Ivan Sutherland. The massive headset was known as ‘The Sword of Damocles’ – as you can guess from the name, it was an intimidating contraption that was suspended from the ceiling.

Along the years, different sectors of the economy adopted and helped advance the technology. AR was used for industrial simulation, military, aviation tools, and even in the NFL. One of the most significant events in the history of augmented reality is the 2014 launch of Google Glass, which was the first commercial wearable AR device. Later on, Snapchat incorporated a geofilter feature that allowed users to add geographic-tagged graphics to their photos. Nowadays, AR is used by retailers, businesses, and millions of social media users.

Desk with a magazine showing a vacation advertisement and small balloons flying into the room augmented reality concept render

 

 

 

 

Types of AR

Augmented reality can be classified into 5 broad categories depending on their use and characteristics. The list below is a brief overview of these categories.

  1. Projection-based AR: Virtual images are projected directly onto surfaces or objects. E.g. You could project functioning piano keys onto a table.
  2. Superimposition-based AR: A digital image entirely or partially replaces an object in the natural environment. E.g. An operating surgeon can use this type of AR to ‘superimpose’ a digital x-ray over a patient’s arm.
  3. Outlining AR: As the name suggests, outlining AR outlines shapes and boundaries such as landing strips, and roads to guide the driver in low light.
  4. Marker-based AR: This one the simplest and easiest to implement AR technology. It relies on triggers such as a QR code to display content.
  5. Markerless AR: Unlike the simplistic Marker-based AR, the Markerless AR uses the accelerometer, GPS, and camera to track the user’s location and display corresponding digital images.

Applicability of Augmented Reality

Snapchat and Pokémon Go are just a tip of the iceberg. The applicability of augmented reality goes far beyond mobile games and apps. Companies such as Immersive VR Technologies, which offer developmental services, continue to discover new and innovative ways of incorporating interactive content into our lives. Some revolutionary uses of AR include:

The consumer market is always changing and adapting. Gone are the days when you could drive sales with just a magazine advert or television broadcast. Statistics show that revenue from print advertising fell by 20% between 2013-2016, while digital advertising revenue increases by 35%.  As technology advances and consumer tastes evolve, companies must adjust their marketing campaigns to gain a competitive edge. One way to attract and retain customers is through the implementation of AR in print advertising.

Picture a normal traditional print advertisement in your local newspaper (sounds boring and monotonous, right?) Now imagine if the ‘boring image’ could come to life in an interactive manner (audio blurb or video pop up) by simply scanning it with your smartphone – that is what AR offers.

  • Industrial Application

AR is tipped to be a game changer in boosting production and efficiency in businesses through the emergence of industry 4.0 (smart manufacturing). The technology can be used to relay information to users in relation to the factory floor activities, data feeds on the status of equipment, and even provide real-time instructions to the staff.  AR has recently captured the attention of market leaders such as Tesla, who filed a patent to use AR in their manufacturing facilities.

  • Gaming

Gaming applications in augmented reality are rapidly growing thanks to portable and affordable computing systems. iOS and Android games such as Pokémon Go, Ghost Snap AR, AR Invaders, SpecTrek, and Ingress are a few mobile games that are gaining increased popularity due to their interactive nature.

Please Note, These applications as not conclusive. AR technology is continually expanding into different sectors such as healthcare, logistics, design, retail, tourism, education, and the entertainment industry. It is interesting to see what the future holds – just make sure you are part of this ‘augmented’ future.

What we Offer

Hair color simulation system concept. Technological scene of hair salon. Smart mirror display.Although augmented reality technologies may be new and even confusing to understand, our highly experienced team is always willing to offer friendly advice to anyone who is interested in AR. 
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.