simulation

What Are My First Steps for Introducing VR into my Training Programs?

I've been getting so many questions lately along the lines of "What's the best hardware?" and "Where should I focus my attention when it comes to VR training?" and "Is it worth the hype?"  I totally get all of the concerns and confusion. There are tons of hardware options out there and so many software development solutions popping up. 

It's a daunting, high-stakes task.  You're facing higher-ups who simply say "We need to implement the latest and greatest technology" without much more direction. It's up to you to decide between a mobile platform or desktop solution. It's up to you to decide what area of your training should be the home for your VR testing. It's up to you to figure out how to gain the metrics you need to prove the validity of the new training program. 

To help, I put together a guide with lots of great information about virtual reality in enterprise, useful terminology, and a basic outline for getting your started.  At the end of it, you'll feel much more knowledgable about the technology and will be ready to start making a plan!

If this sounds like a resource you need, just head over here to get started!

 

How Much Does DOING Really Enhance Retention Rates?

Think back to when you were a very young child. Now imagine if instead of allowing you to crawl or walk, your parents told you about the principles and expected you to be able to do it just from hearing their instructions. This would have been impossible. Now picture yourself watching a video about riding a bicycle. Do you think that watching that video would have taught you how to get onto your bike and ride without ever falling?

The human brain learns by doing things. Practical application of learned knowledge is the basis of how we memorize new information. While it is altogether possible to learn a new topic through rote memorization, or by book learning, it is not nearly as effective as trying out this new idea ourselves.

How does a hands-on activity enhance retention rates?

  • Studies have shown that a student (whether child or adult) will learn a new material three times faster through practical application versus a traditional lecture environment.
  • Having access to the materials that will be used in a real world circumstance creates a concrete link in the brain between the idea and the action. It also prepares the student more thoroughly for the tasks that lie ahead.
  • Lessons taught from a book or lecture are only conceptual and abstract. Imagining what a porcupine looks and feels like is nothing like actually touching a porcupine. Our imaginations can only take us so far.
  • Hands-on training builds muscle memory. A lecture on how to type on a keyboard quickly will have little effect on the mind and the body. Giving a student a keyboard to use will not only help them remember the key locations, but also build their muscle memory for typing accurately and quickly.
  • Practice makes perfect. This old saying will always be applicable in the real world. To become well versed in any idea, topic, or labor; one must practice as often as possible.
  • Studies through the National Training Laboratory Institute show that “practice by doing” has a 75% retention rate outcome. The study also shows that being able to immediately apply the learned knowledge in a real world situation increases retention rates by 90%. Measure this against the traditional method of hearing a lecture that only has a 5% retention rate.
  • When we learn by doing, we have the opportunity to learn from our failures. While most people strive to avoid failures, they are one of the best teaching tools available. A chef in training will always remember the mess that was made when they burnt their first gourmet French dish. Having the experience of dealing with that headache will stick with the individual, they are more like to remember what not to do in the future.

If you want your employees or trainees to have the highest retention rates possible, you must create a practical environment for them to learn. Simply supplying lectures or written information will not be effective on the whole. Increase their level of “doing” and you will automatically increase their levels of retention.

HoloLens and What It Means For Learning & Development

Male dentist showing a molar tooth

HoloLens coupled with Windows 10 is being pitched by Microsoft, targeted especially for businesses, including the Training Industry. HoloLens promises to change the way daily operations are performed and to provide ease in training as well as new perspectives.

Some of the ways that HoloLens can be used for training include:

  • Skype conversations using HoloLens can allow those taking part to view the same desktop workspace from the same view. This means trainers can see what trainees are doing in real time and instruct them accordingly.
  • Diagrams can be viewed in context with realistic images. Augmented images can be overlaid over real time views of office spaces, work floors, manufacturing lines, and other professional areas.
  • Trainees can tour virtual scenes from a first person perspective. This way, they can get a better feel for what awaits them when they first set foot in a new workplace.
  • Trainers can see exactly what trainees are working on from a remote location, in a much more realistic way than remote access has allowed up to now.
  • Trainers in the seminar context can view the work of participants in a direct and clear way with the participants located all over the globe.

 

Promises Ease and a New Way to Get Training Done

HoloLens is less bulky and more streamlined than Oculus rift in size and appearance. With new applications offered by Windows 10, it can add considerable resources to those previously possessed by the training industry. Better insight into the work of participants during courses, seminars, webinars, and more will mean better success rates and less frustration on the part of distance learners and employees. Online learning, if also employing this technology, could change the success rate for the better. (In the past and present, a lot of online university students complain of little feedback on the part of their instructors. This is due in part to instructors lacking insight on what participants are actually doing. Virtual reality tools such as the Lens could turn this around.)

Skype and Collaboration

Skype conversations could follow with participants seeing into each other’s surroundings and being able to edit one another’s work. For training and collaboration, this is of particular value. Working on models and designs with an interactive context saves time and spares participants of frustration. Course creators can offer trainees specific feedback and look over their work more intensively to be sure they have achieved their goals.

Savvy and Fun for Training

HoloLens has the potential to make the training industry more viable, more interesting and technologically up-to-date with savvy tools that make the process fun. Instead of having the reputation of being necessary for work opportunities and promotions, it could make seminars and training courses a sought after experience involving virtual worlds, interactive contexts, funny scenarios and direct feedback from instructors and course leaders.

A look at Disney Immersive Experiences and What Training Departments Can Learn

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I just got back from Disney World with my family a few weeks ago. It was my children’s (5 and 8 years old) first time there, and watching them experience it all was pure magic! That kind of magic is something we strive for in everything we do at The Danse and encourage our clients to reach for as well.

For decades, Disney has made themselves the forerunner in Immersive experience technology. From the inception of their DisneyQuest programs to the Virtuality developments, Disney has led the way in total Immersive experiences for their customers. The question we are faced with now, is how can a training department utilize the practices Disney has already put in place to develop a more effective training module using immersive experiences?

The Disney Touch

One of the primary ways that Disney allows its guests to have an Immersive experience is through the ability to naturally interact with what you see. When you visit a Disney park, you enter a relatively virtual world. In this virtual world, you are able to manipulate the things around you. This can be scenery or characters. For a child, this is magic. Training departments should take note that the ability to interact is a key to a total immersive experience.

Seeing like Disney

True immersion must include seeing everything as if you’re really standing there.  Disney completely understands this and visually surrounds their guests in their experiences.  At Disney, every ride, show, and game are built all around you, making you feel as if you’re really in another place.  Every video or animation is perfectly captured or created to lend itself to these experiences.

Mickey Ears

At the Disney Parks, and on their rides, sound plays a key part to their Immersive experience. If you were to ride Splash Mountain, your experience would not be the same if you could not hear the interactions of Brer Bear and Brer Fox in the background. These sounds tell us the story while we are queuing and enjoying the ride. As a training manager, you must always remember to keep the sense of sound in the forefront of your training modules.

The Smells of Success and What Magic Tastes like

The Imagineers at Disney have never forgotten two of your major senses, smell and taste. When you enter the Gran Fiesta Tour experience at Epcot's Mexico, you are inundated with the smells and tastes of old world Mexico through the centrally located restaurant. When a guest can not only ride and watch the experience, but also smell and taste it, they are that much more fulfilled. For training departments, the concept is the same. Imagine a waiter trying to explain a meal that they have never tasted. Or imagine a fire chief trying to explain what a diesel fire smells like to a group of new recruits.

New Technology = Big ROI In Training

Training and Development on the Gears.  

 

The advent of accessible virtual reality application is right around the corner. This technology promises a new world of opportunity, for those seeking heightened entertainment capabilities, but more importantly for businesses looking for cost-effective solutions, return on investment for updating human resource skills, better training options, and more. Let’s take a closer look at where businesses can save money and optimize operations.

New Hardware Technology - A Better Approach

In the past, to create realism in simulated job site training, companies had to invest millions of dollars into bulky, software-limited simulator hardware.  In many cases, this hardware is completely stationary, which causes large expenses and/or inadequate training time when trainees are spread out nationally or globally.

Emerging affordable virtual reality hardware provides a 360 degree perspective of a digital world. It can be used in conjunction with various off-the-shelf motion tracking devices.  This new hardware approach allows learners to interact with what they are seeing using their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

The best part about this hardware (aside from the super low costs)

How can these devices make training more effective? 

  • Many companies hold training from a specific site (headquarters). Having to fly trainees around the country or from other countries is cost-intensive and time consuming. Sending hardware or instructors+hardware is much more efficient—bringing greater profits and lower costs.
  • Companies that deal with manufacturing of products can train their employees effectively the virtual way from various sites simultaneously without using resources. Digital models can be interacted within a realistic mode. This allows for a larger margin of error without waste.
  • Customer service training can be carried out interactively with less stress. Employees can learn how to better interact with customers on an individual basis. This can optimize time spent on training by reducing stress—a relaxed atmosphere is conducive to learning.
  • Marketing and sales training can be held virtually in a realistic way.
  • Seminars and training for specific topics for all levels of employees can take place on site simultaneously with participants from all over the world. Engineers can learn complicated new job operations without leaving town—saving lots of money, bringing increased expertise to the workforce, and thus a large return on investment.
  • Reduce the amount of time your money-making production equipment is "parked" for training.

Return on Investment and Cost Effectiveness

Being able to train employees for new operations, skills and job positions often costs a lot of resources and brings a questionable amount of return of investment. Investing in new technology costs less than 1000 USD per unit and can be used repeatedly by any number of employees. The amount of seminars that can be participated in virtually is limitless. The interactions that can take place between people all over the world are infinite. ROI becomes easier to measure based on the new skills and training programs undertaken, via this exciting new technology.

While many of these technologies are not yet on the market, they will be soon, and to stay competitive on the worldwide market will mean investing in new methods of doing business on an international scale. Flying and other forms of travel are expensive. The new way of communicating and learning interactively carries little risk and a lot of benefits.

Training Benefits for Using the Virtuix Omni

Omni HD 1  

 

The Omni takes virtual reality to an all-encompassing new place for more than just games and entertainment.  Gamers can feel immersed in the games they play as the device allows them to move their feet, walk and run along with the program. With the use of Oculus Rift to view their virtual world, the Omni places the user right in the middle of the action. But this is just for starters, as there are applications beyond fun and games that can be extremely useful out there in the real world.

The Virtuix Omni looks like a round treadmill, complete with a railing. The pack for 699 USD includes a special belt and shoes to be used with it. Purchase of the Oculus Rift is separate, but necessary to complete the virtual simulation.

The Omni allows for:

  • More interactive remote employee meetings
  • Virtual exhibitions for on the job
  • Simulations of workplaces
  • Increased ease and realistic simulation of training on the job

Particularly for jobs that are more hands-on, is this last point especially relevant. Instead of training EMTs with dummies, they can run to the scene, check the pulse of their charge, load them into the ambulance, and then drive away. They can practice every aspect of their job using the Omni.

Training for a Variety of Job Fields

Some of the other fields which can benefit from practicing job scenarios using the Omni include:

  • Nurses and nursing assistants
  • Doctors and dentists
  • Engineers and those who deal with hardware
  • Production line workers
  • Those who work in retail
  • Clothing designers
  • Architects
  • Artists
  • Office workers who need to tour new locations in advance
  • Those who need to practice sales and marketing scenarios
  • Those who need training speaking before large audiences
  • Training motivational speaking

 

The Training Benefits for Using the Virtuix Omni are Plenty

Any job with a hands-on aspect can use simulation that incorporates feet and movement, as well as the viewing function (from Oculus Rift). Colleagues can demonstrate job functions from a remote location and have the feeling they are in the room together, handing each other instruments and approaching one another. Despite location restraints, they can have the sort of team building and bonding that was previously only possible in person. This will serve to speed up the training process and optimize employee efficiency and cost effectiveness—in saving money on expensive flights, for example.

Virtual reality is a powerful tool for job training that will continue to be optimized as the technology is developed and made readily available on the market. The Virtuix Omni in conjunction with the headset from Oculus Rift are forerunners for improving the on the job training experience and will surely be fixtures on educating individuals in the future.

New Immersive Tech Series: Oculus Rift vs. Microsoft HoloLens (Part 2)

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A varying array of applications for work and play with the newest technology, Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens are making big waves in tech news. They are making reality augmentation and virtual reality that much more integrated into work and play. As highlighted a bit in part 1, Rift is a headset that allows the user to experience the images displayed from a first person perspective while HoloLens is a device that has the user controlling holograms and imposing them over their view of the world around them.

At first glance, the headsets look similar. They are worn by users like glasses over the eyes, but with varying degrees of transparency. Rift totally wipes out the outside world and puts the wearer into a virtual reality based world. HoloLens lets you see your desk, your computer, your windows and coffee cup, but with digital images imposed onto the scenery by way of the lens. Let’s take a deeper look at the features.

Rift

  • Ideal for gamers who want to get inside the games they play. — Rift will support a variety of games when it is available for consumers on the market.
  • At 350 USD, a competitive price tag for medical students who need to simulate the practice of surgery. —Technology already exists to simulate surgery scenarios, but this device is a cheaply priced alternative that could put it at the forefront  (we're actually working on applications like this).
  • Educating school children and teens in a more hands on way. — Students can explore countries and structures (like government buildings, pyramids in Egypt) remotely. Instead of an expensive class trip, this can allow students hands-on experiences at a fraction of the price.
  • Watching movies. — As more films are made in this format, it could change the way viewers experience films. They can watch a film as a part of the film, in the first person.

 

HoloLens

  • Can optimize the skype experience. — For families forced to be at a distance in today’s society, being able to see loved one’s as a part of the scenery can give the feeling they are there with them in the room while talking via skype.
  • Making remote business meetings more effective. — A complaint often heard in the business world is that virtual meetings are less effective than meeting in person. A holographic generated image of a colleague could make them feel they are interacting in a more personal way, and thus connect optimally to get more done on the job.
  • View a model of an engine while doing idle chores. — Multi-tasking taken to new levels.
  • Team building events will be more amusing. — Scenery can be created to resemble a beach, a desert, the set of Game of Thrones, and more. This can be a springboard for fun and open teambuilding events.
  • Training new employees. — A more three dimensional approach to getting new employees acclimated using holograms to demonstrate tasks.

 

The future promises to be an eye-opening journey into the world of reality augmentation and virtual reality, on and off the job. The Oculus Rift and the HoloLens will surely be at the forefront.

Gamification within Corporations: Goodbye Casual Friday

What Is This?  

Creating interactive game-styled software designs within corporations looks like it will make work more engaging for employees. As employees we should rightly expect our organization to actively care about creating an engaging environment that doesn’t run us empty; and as administrators of organizations it is also our duty to collaborate with employees. The cliché Casual Friday was once a product of the logic behind boosting employee morale, but it didn’t really stick around long and isn’t applicable across professions. But, the new kid on the block, Gamification, is a lot more promising. Forbes magazine recently wrote:

Given the recent engagement numbers released from Gallup, showing 71 percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, gamification is finding its way on the agenda of the Chief Human Resource Officer… Gartner predicts that by 2014, more than 70 percent of global 2,000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application, which can range from mastering a specific skill or improving one’s health. ‘Gamification: Three Ways To Use Gaming For Recruiting, Training, and Health & Wellness’ – Jeanne Meister

Engaging Interactive Programs and Designs

Corporations that are beginning to use game mechanics within all facets of employee relations are beginning to come up with some successful implementations. Target cashiers are now using interactive software as they scan customer purchases - a light blinks either green or red depending on the speed the item is scanned which are scored for optimal time. Marriott International Inc, beginning to create web-based games similar to the ones used on Facebook, as ways to recruit employees and for other companies, employee training programs and yearly skill reviews are also being gamified. The gaming doesn’t deter using merit rewards as incentives for increasing productivity, but they do drastically rework the way the incentives are presented to the employee. Depending on the type of job and task, the job itself becomes part of a game designed to foster fun for the entire workspace while retaining to competitive bent that drives excellence.

With new technology becoming so accessible such as Androids and other Smartphones among the population, developing mobile gaming software can allow companies to create game-like elements of specific work related tasks beyond an employee’s desk or work station. Sales associates and real estate agents would be a perfect example of employees that would be able to stay in-touch on the job while still being outside the main office. While also driving employee performance, gamification allows for companies to distribute monetary rewards in smaller increments over an entire year or season instead of one lump sum.

New Virtual Horizons: Oculus Rift in Training Part 2

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Oculus VR and the Chocolate Factory

Come with me, and you’ll see, a land of pure 3D animation…

The broader technological applications of Oculus Rift are still in a world of pure imagination, but it is one closer to home than we think and not nearly as strange. While it might be some time before the phrase ‘virtual reality’ becomes a part of everyday training vocabulary, there are still common professional and industrial fields, which sound more domestically familiar than military applications, that will benefit from these new types of devices and software development projects. I’d like to take you on a tour through our societal imagination and look at fields closer to our everyday lives that we might find virtual reality training to be integrating soon.

The Everlasting Energy Industry

As our society furthers its technological advancement, the entire system of energy production will require more advanced training for harvesting raw fuel sources, and machining the devices and infrastructure for processing and distribution. The upkeep of our energy industry technology has some of the most dangerous situations workers voluntarily put themselves in. One example in the fossil fuel industry is hyperbaric wet-welding jobs for oil rigs. These repairs are not situations easy to train for without actually requiring commercial diving on-site practice. Unfortunately the environmental risks are so dangerous that training can’t be a safely controlled space for practicing without still having the possibility of fatal errors. Oculus Rift and immersive training software could provide a safe and adaptive way to simulate the necessary scenarios. The idea can be expanded to imagine VR training programs for high-power linemen, allowing them to simulate transformer disassembly and assembly with 3D interactive parts, without actually exposing themselves to the consequences of deadly mistakes.

Dangerous Recipes: Electrical and Chemical Engineering

The daily environment for electrical and chemical engineers is not a hands-on dominant job, but the dangers lurk in the implementation of the system designs. It is difficult to model large scale systems and actually understand all the potential consequences, so it is usually not until the factories are actually constructed that they can be tested. With the aid of immersive devices like Oculus Rift, factory engineers can explore their 3D designs as if they were walking through the site itself.   Training new engineers on virtual reality construction programs can allow for interactive lessons and easier visualization of complex systems. Interactive problems can be created as 3-dimensionally mapped out factory settings and environments that don’t usually lend themselves to easy training access like micro-processor fabrication plants.

The futuristic horizon of the digital age is growing more and more accessible for society at large as public and private organizations continue to invest in VR technology.

New Virtual Horizons: Oculus Rift in Training Part 1

Oculus Rift demo, development  

With the energized backing of the California based company, Oculus VR, virtual reality is getting closer to becoming a common fact of life in a variety of industries; especially considering their recent announcement July 1, 2014: “The first batch of official DK2s have left the manufacturing facility and are making their way to our distribution centers now. We expect to ship roughly 10,000 DK2s from the factory in July…” The DK2 (Developer Kit #2) is Oculus VR’s second generation virtual reality headset, continuing the company’s vision of “immersive virtual reality technology that's wearable and affordable.” With VR developers getting greater access to the devices necessary to integrate their ideas onto a testable platform, 3D animation is going to play an essential role in taking advantage of the new technological possibilities for entertainment, education, military training, and medicine. The horizon becomes seemingly limitless when we consider the always surprising ingenuity of inventors and entrepreneurs in fields unthinkable until now.

Training with 3D Animation

Simulating effective training exercises will be a unique experience with Oculus Rift as developers explore new ways to use the technology. Training programs and methods of learning specific skills that were once limited primarily to textbook work because of high risk and/or expensive requirements for hands-on practice can begin to 3-dimensionally render virtual objects and environments once difficult to include in particular fields like medicine, high-risk construction, combat, aviation, and biologically hazardous occupation.

Oculus Rift: Military Training A couple years back I posted about Flight Simulators and the valuable role they are beginning to play in the Air Force and Navy - noting the importance that they play in developing a pilot’s situational awareness. Well in March this year, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) revealed it is developing a combat project using Oculus Rift called Plan X. Andy Greenburg’s article in Wired magazine wrote:

At the Pentagon Wednesday, the armed forces’ far-out research branch known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency showed off its latest demos for Plan X, a long-gestating software platform designed to unify digital attack and defense tools into a single, easy-to-use interface for American military hackers. And for the last few months, that program has had a new toy: The agency is experimenting with using the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset to give cyber-warriors a new way to visualize three-dimensional network simulations–in some cases with the goal of better targeting them for attack. ‘Darpa Turns Oculus into a Weapon for Cyberwar’5.23.14

While Oculus Rift isn’t strapped to the head of soldiers yet, it is proving itself as a serious player in 3D animated realities.   The ability for its user to actually turn around in the virtual environment by using normal body motion greatly enhances the user’s ability to interact naturally with its simulated environment.