Virtual reality holds huge promise for businesses, reducing the costs of training and dramatically improving results through immersive experiences
For the last few years, virtual reality in business has been much discussed, but less widely harnessed. Today, far from being a notional advantage for the future, some of the world’s biggest companies are seeing the benefits for their training programmes.
“Many industries from manufacturing and mining to healthcare, transport and energy, have moved beyond the tyre-kicking stage with VR training,” says Tom Symonds, founder and chief executive of VR training company Immerse.io, whose clients include Shell, DHL and GE Healthcare. “With large businesses already using the technology to help people train more effectively, it’s important for others to consider it so they are not left behind.”
By using the company’s VR platform, up to ten people anywhere in the world can enter an immersive virtual environment and interact with one another, with additional people viewing a 2D version on their web browser. During or after the training, educators can comment on steps taken or guide participants. The technology is used across industries, from manufacturing processes to delivery firms, defence to flight, healthcare to mining, energy to communications and beyond.
With large businesses already using the technology to help people train more effectively, it’s important for others to consider it so they are not left behind
In addition to optimising broader business processes through analysis of the usage data, organisations can gain cost-savings within the delivery of training, simply because so much less travelling and ongoing investment is required thanks to the live and distributed nature of the platform. The sheer immersive nature of VR training enables learning experiences that impact learners on a deep level, driving improved knowledge retention.
“Everyone learns best when they’re focused and even the most brilliant trainer cannot hold learners’ attention for 100 per cent of the time. There are so many distractions in a normal office environment that people’s minds naturally wander,” Mr Symonds explains. “But once learners are in a VR headset, being handed a virtual object by a colleague, they are fully focused as there is an immediate imperative to act and to interact.”
For industries such as oil and gas, where safety issues are of utmost importance, the capacity for VR training to avoid potentially dangerous outcomes is critical. Energy giant Shell is using the systems to train for emergency response.
“We can show a person the impact of a delay in shutting down a defective piece of equipment by a few seconds. This ability to recreate different working scenarios means learners understand and experience the consequences of one decision over another. They wouldn’t forget this training in a hurry,” says Mr Symonds. “That offers real value for businesses where maintaining the highest levels of worker safety is paramount.”
Immerse.io’s VR platform is underpinned by training data capture on a large scale, empowering live or post-session assessment. Managers can see how well trainees have performed in a given VR scenario and they are able then to pinpoint where improvements can be made.
The technology company’s in-house developers work closely with clients to create bespoke VR training environments, but Mr Symonds says businesses also use his company’s platform independently to create their own personalised environments.
“We’ve created a software development kit that allows our clients to create their own content or to import CAD [computer-aided design] models to run on the platform,” he says. “This means companies can quickly and repeatedly build the virtual environments they need, enabling them to take enterprise-wide training to the next level and deliver massive change in their organisation.”
To find out more about providing accessible, immersive VR training across your business please visit immerse.io