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Virtual Reality Training - Can You Afford Not To?

1 Oct 2020
Ewan Anderson

We completed some research into the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) training amongst HR leaders across the country recently, and it seems it is not quite as popular as you might think.

However, given the current predicament and the need to find other ways to train staff, this may provide many businesses with a welcome solution.

Virtual reality’s not for me

Perhaps the problem with trialling this new approach to training is the fear of the unknown or an apprehension around cost. Both valid concerns, but if there is one advantage that has emerged from the global pandemic, it is that the adoption of new practices has been swift. We have entered a technology-led workplace for a considerable proportion of the population.

It is interesting to see the types of industries that are embracing the technologies to help their team find an adaptable and often, safer means of training. And it is not just the preserve of the tech giants of Silicon Valley or the start-ups of Codebase to provide the softer skills required to lead a team of developers.

Virtual reality training has become more prevalent amongst many of the more traditional industries as well as colleges and universities. It is helping to develop the skills and abilities needed in a host of areas from trades such as welding to wind turbine maintenance.

Here is an example of the City of Glasgow’s Wind Turbine Training. Often a costly and at times, a dangerous session that is not easy to replicate on the ground. Getting the uneasy feeling at height, experiencing the unpredictability of a significant ascent, and then having to operate against elements can all be included in this sort of training.

Similarly, the team at Totem developed VR training for students to refine their ‘hard skills’ in the form of welding. Again, traditionally quite hazardous training programme; however, this new tool allows students to, according to the creators, ‘develop muscle memory, angle accuracy and confidence’.

The benefit of this virtual training is constant feedback. The data that is produced allows educators to provide far more targeted insight and help students to grow. The virtual environment also provides for 10 million different instances of user-generated content, providing a bank of scenarios to test the candidates.

How do we implement VR Training?

The introduction of VR and AR training isn’t cheap, but there are ways to find more affordable solutions. The question is, in our current situation, can you afford not to invest? If you are comparing the cost against that of a far more restricted physical training approach, then the prices start to stack up.

Besides, there is research that highlights the recall of those who have received training in a digital environment, is far greater. The study indicates that recall a year on from the virtual training could be up to 80%, compared to just 20% recall after only a week with traditional training.

In terms of hardware, it is possible now to go with a mobile solution for your training. The likes of Google cardboard means your mobile phone is all you need. This makes it far more accessible to a broader audience. However, there is a trade-off in terms of quality.

The issue with investing in new headsets is the constant development in technology. Again, it is going back to a cost-benefit analysis. Given many workplaces will likely move to a more blended working environment, could this save you money in the long run?

VR and AR training – the future

Virtual reality and augmented reality is nothing new. It has been developing for the last ten years or so. However, now some of the big players have invested in the technology, and the need has increased, it is tough to see this not becoming an essential part of your training programme, no matter what industry you work in.


Ewan Anderson
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