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Construction Safety Training, Virtual Reality, VR Training

Construction, by its very nature, is full of the hazards of partially built structures, open holes, and incomplete surfaces and structures, not to mention the often dizzying heights.

We all know that fall protection and prevention must be top-of-mind at all times to ensure the safety of your workers. The challenge, of course, is the difficulty in actually providing fall protection training.

Fall protection training itself can be as dangerous as a job site, not to mention the cost and lost project time to do this training properly.

Traditionally, the options for this kind of training ranges from on-the-job awareness training, like OSHA recommended: “Toolbox Talks” to sending select workers to costly specialized training centers. As you can imagine, talks around the toolbox, obligatory posters on the job site, and spending a lot of money on a few, but not all, of your workers, is only going to be marginally successful in preventing these life-threatening falls.

There has to be a better way.

And as it turns out, there is a better way — one that ensures your workers have the opportunity to get additional and more engaging fall prevention and protection training — Virtual Reality Fall Protection Training.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the value and benefit of VR training, but we’re also going to focus on the whole topic of fall protection training.

At PIXO VR, we don’t want virtual reality training, and our fall protection training module, to be a kind of “band-aid”. We want virtual reality training to be a seamless, cross-referenced part of a comprehensive and effective fall protection training program.

How to Make Fall Protection Training Effective

Let’s start with the basics.

Fall protection training is most effective when you make it a focal point at the very earliest stages of your construction planning, equipping, and training.

Here is a simple framework, adapted from OSHA, to help you integrate fall protection training into every step of your project.

  1. Give Fall Protection its Due Importance – Stress the importance of training and planning for fall protection and prevention in all phases of construction from planning to the job site. Fall protection is unquestionably a matter of life and death. It needs to be prioritized and talked about daily for successful retention.
  2. Fall Prevention Starts in the Planning Phase – Fall hazards are a part of every construction project, from residential roofing to building bridges and raising skyscrapers, planning safety into the job is crucial to preventing falls.
  3. Provide the Right Equipment – Proper equipping goes beyond requiring and issuing fall arrest harnesses. Training workers on how to inspect, maintain, and correctly use equipment is essential to ensuring that your safety equipment is used and performs appropriately on the job site.
  4. Train ALL Workers. Ideally Together – Each worker, their actions and behaviors, impact not only the productivity of the crew, but also the safety of each person on the job site. Consequently, any proper fall protection training requires every worker to be thoroughly trained, and that training should ideally be done together.

Using this simple four-part checklist, you can better evaluate fall protection training and make sure that any safety training program you implement has the maximum impact.

Turning Toolbox Talks into (Virtual) Reality

OSHA recommends Toolbox Talks in their Fall Prevention Training Guide. These are brief discussions that are designed to be done on site, with your crew.

In a 15-20 minute talk, these sessions reinforce the importance of the training, use real-world examples, and facilitate questions about the specific safety topic being addressed during the Toolbox Talk. These talks are an excellent way to reinforce core fall protection training, aiding workers in retaining what they have learned in other, more formal training sessions.

However, it’s crucial that your workers are also getting realistic, hands-on training. You want your training to assesses the worker’s ability to think safety first and make good decisions under the pressure of getting the job done. Creating these working environments are where VR training can be a real asset.

Not only does virtual reality allow your crews to practice their safety knowledge in a practical environment, but it can also let them work as a team – assuring that they can operate safely together on the project.

Example Fall Protection VR Training Sessions

In this section, I want to talk through some example VR training adaptations of these Toolbox Talks. This way you can get a feel for the difference between talking about safety and practicing safety in virtual reality — possibly in the convenience of your job trailer.

The best way to reinforce the importance of any safety training is getting your trainees’ attention with the consequence of failing to observe necessary protocols. Traditional training methods, for obvious reasons, struggle to go beyond telling horrific stories and trying to capture a trainee’s attention through their imagination.

Virtual reality gives trainers the unique opportunity to let students be a little more cavalier in making — and learning from — “fatal” mistakes. Your first fall from 20 stories up is a wake-up call, even in virtual reality.

One of our favorite VR training icebreakers is to let the most confident “victim” step into the VR training environment and give it a try. Without guidance or a good “safety brief” the overconfident often quickly make a mistake that sends them to their demise in front of their whole crew.

This demonstration accomplishes the first learning objective in any safety training — getting everyone’s attention so they can begin to fully understand its importance.

Now, with everyone’s full and undivided attention, you can move into the actual training module.

Ladder Safety

Ladders are one of the most basic and frequently used tools on any construction project. It’s precisely this frequency and familiarity that make ladders the center of so many falls.

In VR training modules involving ladders, the trainee is going to get hands-on practice inspecting ladders, using them in a variety of scenarios, making decisions about when and when not to use ladders, as well as the proper care of these critical tools.

Scaffolding Safety

Like ladders, it’s way too easy for our workers to get too comfortable working on these scaffolding and other raised platforms. Statistically speaking, hardly a day goes by without a construction worker falling to their death from a scaffold.

In VR training, you can do more than talk about all of the many things that can go wrong with scaffolding.

In virtual reality, you can cover everything from properly designing and constructing scaffolding to using them in the unique ways they may be implemented to meet the needs of your project. You can also experience and practice how to move as well as handle all of the materials, tools, and equipment that will accompany you on the scaffold.

Virtual reality can also help you to simulate the random and unpredictable nature of a construction zone – requiring workers to navigate scaffolding, identify and avoid hazards, and deal with the randomness of materials and other people on the scaffold.

These are two popular and crucial construction training scenarios. As you can see, each is easily converted from a traditional classroom or on-the-job discussions to practical, hands-on virtual reality exercises.

Other Traditional Fall Protection Training Well-suited for VR Training

PIXO VR is currently working to develop a full construction training library, starting with a fully-developed module for fall protection training.

Here are just a few of the practical exercises that trainees could experience in future iterations of VR Fall Protection training:

  • Fall Restraint Systems and Fall Arrest Systems
    • Inspection procedures
    • Donning procedures
    • Fit test
  • Selection, application, and care of FRS/FAS equipment
  • Rescue scenarios
    • Fall victim
    • First on the scene
    • Self-rescue and assisted self-rescue

How Can We Help Improve Your Fall Protection Training

Looking for something specific?

Let’s talk about custom VR Training options for your business. Working with our award-winning team of 3D artists, designers, and engineers, we can use our state-of-the-art platform to build a custom Virtual Reality Training experience for any business.

Contact us today to discuss your training objectives and get a free quote.

We’re building new realities, every day

PIXO VR thinkers and makers are always adding new content to our construction training virtual reality experience library. Contact us to get a demo of the current library or to discuss a custom VR Training solution.

Further Reading

More Resources

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
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Construction Safety Training, Virtual Reality, VR Training

Many training managers are pondering this simple question: Is my business ready for virtual reality training?

But the real questions (read: fears) lurking in the back of their minds are:

  • What the heck is virtual reality-based training?
  • What would it look like in practice?
  • What fancy equipment do I need even to pull it off?
  • And, of course, what kind of budget do I need?

Well, today is your lucky day. We’re going to answer all of those hidden, but crucial questions, so that you can bring VR Training into your program in an informed way.

What is Virtual Reality-Based Training?

The name — virtual reality-based training — largely self-defines this emerging training methodology.

Virtual Reality Training is a technology-based training method that uses computer software and special sensory hardware to recreate real environments and scenarios. These virtual environments allow students to engage in fully immersive, realistic, and interactive virtual training scenarios.

Most importantly, VR Training can effectively simulate on-the-job style training in a safer and more forgiving environment, while giving trainers the kind of visibility and control they’ve long desired in their training exercises.

Explaining virtual reality on an even more practical level, a training setup generally consists of one or more dedicated high-performance (but standard gaming-grade) computer workstations, a quality VR headset (HP Windows Mixed Reality, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), and a couple of motion-tracking sensors, (depending on the headset you’re using. In the case of the HP Windows Mixed Reality headset mentioned above, “standalone” headsets are also becoming available which deliver a great VR experience without needing light tower-tracking).

This low-profile technology can be installed in a relatively small training area (as little as 100 square feet — a 10’ x 10’ square), in the corner of an office, training room, or even on-site job trailer, and just like that: you’re ready to train in virtual reality.

With this simple and inexpensive setup and a VR Training software module, (which is roughly equivalent in difficulty to ordering and installing a video game), you’re ready to host your first virtual reality-based training session.

The best thing about using VR Training instead of, or in conjunction with, the typical snooze-fest PowerPoint dirge through training talking points and objectives, virtual reality gets each student mentally and even physically involved, actively challenging them to do the training they would otherwise be (mostly) passively learning about.

Critically, despite needing some amount of hardware to take full advantage of the experience, there’s no “downtime”. Even when the students aren’t in the virtual training environment themselves, they can remain mentally and emotionally engaged as they watch and learn from the photo-realistic successes and failures of their classmates on the screen (or on a recorded video).

Rather than simply wait for their turn, they can learn and troubleshoot for themselves as they watch how co-workers successfully or unsuccessfully complete their virtual jobs.

Benefits of Using Virtual Reality in Training

As we’ve defined the term ‘VR Training’, we’ve touched on several of the benefits of using it for your workforce. Now let’s break down some of the most important of those benefits so you can build a business case for leveraging VR in your company’s training program.

Engaging and Interactive

No more sitting in rows of cramped, grade school-style desks, watching an instructor drone their way through slides filled with regulatory-speak in the vain hope that someone is paying attention.

Virtual reality-based training gets folks out of their seats and participating in real-life training scenarios. Even those watching outside of the virtual reality “hot-seat” are still engaged, if for no other reason than the excitement and novelty of the training medium itself. There’s no shame in admitting that something serious like training can also be fun.

Controlled, Specific, and Forgiving

One of the most significant benefits of virtual reality is the amount of control you have over training and practice scenarios.

You can create a training environment customized to your specific business’ needs. Your VR Training can be designed to replicate actual jobs, situations, or even a particular job site or project. Add in hazardous materials, specialized equipment, and a variety of unexpected twists and turns, and you have real on-the-job training — all without the dangers of on-the-job training.

Furthermore, because it’s software you can program your training scenarios to focus on specific problem areas or unique challenges expected from an individual worker or an actual project.  

Higher Retention Rate

Retention is always a training priority, and virtual reality has been scientifically proven to help with retention.

This positive retention rate makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever experienced a virtual training session or even a virtual reality game; it’s why some call our field “serious gaming”. VR Training transports the trainee into a realistic environment and makes them an active participant in the experience, less a ‘student’ than a ‘player’.  

Virtual reality lets you see, hear, and react to scenarios, making your training feel as real as real can be. Trainees retain more because they will have to assess what’s going on around them, make decisions, and suffer the consequences — they have to use more of their minds (and even bodies).

When presented with new concepts and ideas in vivid interactive 3D, they can’t just sit there and pretend to pay attention, they’ll have to get involved. What’s more, they’ll actually want to.

Beyond the mental side of retention, VR delivers on sense-memory. When trainees actively participate in this kind of hands-on training, they’ll only need to practice most things a few times before they acquire that new skill.  

Efficiently Train Every Worker

One of the great things about Virtual Reality Training is that you can do it from anywhere. This feature gives you the opportunity to make sure that every single worker has a chance to get realistic, virtual training — no matter where they are.

With PIXO VR’s multi-user functionality, not only can they train from anywhere, they can all do it in the same virtual setting at the same time. This helps build chemistry and team skills, fostering collaboration and even enabling a little friendly competition, driving everyone to be better.

All of your VR Training sessions can also be recorded and made available in a library of videos that demonstrate your training objectives, even if every employee doesn’t have access to the hardware at that moment.

Critically, VR has also made training itself more efficient.

VR has proven to reduce the time needed to train, allowing users to master skills quicker. Research has shown that trainees learn the same material in 40-60% less time with VR as opposed to more traditional forms of training.

Cost Effective

Cost is one of the most important, if somewhat overlooked benefits of VR Training. Although there are some upfront investments, compared to traditional training that often requires paid instructors, travel expenses, and even specialized training equipment and facilities — VR Training can yield a much higher return on investment.

Perhaps the most significant financial return can be found in the ongoing value provided by greater institutional self-knowledge, delivered in aggregate training data.

VR provides a degree of visibility into employee capabilities — at both the individual and team-level — that, until now, training managers and employers could only dream about.

With robust data capture mechanisms and real-time reporting and analytics, VR can make an entire training program — including parts of the program that aren’t even leveraging virtual reality — more efficient and cost effective by revealing the programs strengths and weaknesses over time.

After all, who can say precisely how much capital a business loses annually by misunderstanding (or outright not knowing) what its employees do best and where they need some work — before an accident or production mishap takes place?

If information is power, VR Training is far more empowering for enterprise than traditional training methods.

Five Steps to Launch Your First VR Training Solution

Now, with a solid understanding of the benefits of virtual reality-based training, it’s time to help you build a business case for VR Training to sell internally, so you can become the hero of your training program.

Let’s begin that business case by outlining a practical path to launching that very first VR training session.

1. Start with a Real Business Problem

When considering VR Training, many wonder where to start. That’s why I encourage companies to begin by identifying a real business problem. Identify an area of your company where performance or training is lacking. In so doing, you’ll give your VR Training program an opportunity to be applied where it can bring the most immediate value and clearly demonstrate its usefulness.

In the area of construction training, we often see companies starting with our fall protection VR Training module.

Fall hazards are one of the most frequent and fatal construction accidents. At the same time, it is difficult and costly to provide adequate prevention training. Fall protection training is a perfect example of when VR Training could be the most effective training solution.

2. Begin with a Specific Training Module

At the beginning of piloting a new VR Training program, I also recommend starting with a specific training objective and a module or lesson to accomplish it.

Don’t try to replace your whole training program or satisfy every possible learning objective with virtual reality; while anything that can be taught can be virtualized, there are still places where traditional training may make more sense, or be more cost-effective.

Introduce virtual reality as an alternative or complementary training method within a more extensive training curriculum, rather than attempting to “rip and replace” your entire program.

3. Have a Well-Defined Learning Objective

Since VR Training is going to be a “radical” new approach in your training system, it’s essential to apply it against a specific learning objective.

We started by identifying a clear problem within your business’ training program. Next, we thought of one aspect of that problem where virtual reality might make the most sense as a solution.

Now, we want to be able to actually demonstrate that virtual reality is directly meeting a specific training goal. So set your goals ahead of time. VR Training isn’t a magic bullet — it’s a tool, and like any tool, how you actually use it counts.

4. Required Technology

At this point, make sure you have all of the right equipment to deliver an excellent VR Training experience for your employees.

The good news on this front is that virtual reality has become very accessible. Mainstream computers, graphics cards, and processors, as well as the VR headsets themselves, have become so powerful and affordable that budget is rarely a barrier to implementing VR Training.

Here is a typical VR Training technology wishlist:

Recommended VR Headset(s)

  1. HTC Vive Pro
  2. HTC Vive
  3. HP Windows Mixed Reality
  4. Oculus Rift

Computer Specifications

Processor

Intel(r) Core(TM) i5-4590 or AMD FX(TM) 8350, equivalent or better

Graphics

NVIDIA(r) GeForce(r) GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon(TM) RX 480, equivalent or better.

Memory

4 GB RAM or more

Video output

DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

USB

1x USB 3.0 port or newer

Operating System

Windows 10


For the most current computer specs, double-check the latest specifications for HTC Vive, HP Windows Mixed Reality, or Oculus Rift support websites.

That’s it! For less than $2,000 you’re ready to set up a virtual reality training studio in that bleak – dreaded – traditional classroom. What’s more, you’ll have people begging to sign-up for training, instead of finding reasons to avoid it.

5. Find and Implement, then Measure and Improve

Now, for the purposes of time, we’re mainly skipping past the “find and implement” part where you shop around for, find, and decide upon a Virtual Reality Training provider to supply you with a solution, (something we at PIXO VR would be more than happy to discuss with you, should you be at this stage of the process right now.)

For now, we’ll cut to the chase and assume you’ve found a VR Training company and have integrated their solution into your curriculum, applied to a specific module, and serving a particular learning objective.

This part is key: make sure you measure the results!

Are your trainees doing better on practical assessments? Are they retaining the information? Are you noticing better outcomes on projects that require the skill you trained for using virtual reality? Importantly, do you know how they were doing before?

Even if you don’t have much hard data from the past, document as much Before & After information as possible so you can get a proper apples-to-virtual-apples comparison of the pre- and post-VR Training status quo. The results will be eye-opening.

Next Steps

If you’re thinking about piloting a new VR Training program, PIXO VR wants to support your efforts to innovate. Don’t hesitate to hit us up with questions, ask for help in putting together your business case, or schedule a demo. Contact our VR Training experts.

Further Reading

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Construction Safety Training, VR Training

Video instruction has become all the rage. Khan Academy, Skillshare, Udemy, and a whole host of other video training programs are rapidly offsetting more traditional lecture and seminar-style learning environments.

However, the evolution from in-person to virtual training is not complete.

Research is demonstrating that fully immersive virtual reality training is more effective than video instruction.

Setting Up the VR Training Versus Video Instruction Test

In our survey of recent research around learning technology and virtual reality, we came across this one particular study that was quite interesting.

This study was trying to determine the effectiveness of VR training in teaching student to accomplish physical tasks.

In setting up the experiment the researchers used the mastery of three Tai Chi movements as the learning objective. This physical activity or task was specifically chosen because of its full-body movement and well-defined standard of mastery for each movement or form.

Given this learning objective, the students were then divided into two learning groups. One group would be instructed using fully immersive virtual reality training and the second group would use more traditional video instruction.

For both approaches, they used Tai Chi instructors and recorded them correctly performing the movements. In the case of the VR training, a 3D model of the instructor was constructed such that the student would be learning from a virtual instructor in the same virtual space.

Students in both learning environments experienced two training sessions and a final testing session. Between each session, they were able to review and learn from video captures of their performance.

Following each session, two independent reviewers, trained to judge the specific Tai Chi movements, inspected and graded the students’ videos without knowledge of which learning methodology they used in their training.

In addition, each student was given a questionnaire to self report their subjective evaluation of the training experience – specifically, how connected they felt to the instructor and the learning task itself.

Research Demonstrates VR Training is Better than Video

The clear results of this study were that students trained in the virtual reality training environment performed better.

The VR training cohort’s performance was not only better in the final testing but also after each training session. In fact, on average, the students in the VR training cohort actually performed better after the first training session than the video instructional cohort did after completing the entire program of training and testing.

Students in the VR training cohort also self-reported a higher sense of connectedness to the training.

Why is VR Training Better?

There are a variety of factors that make virtual reality a more effective learning environment, but this specific study highlighted a couple of significant factors.

First, there is the advantage of putting student and instructor in the same virtual space. This creates a level of connectedness and attentiveness to enhances not only learning but also long-term learning retention.

Second, the three-dimensional environment enables the student to choose the learning perspective and reposition as they actively learn.

The opportunity to be a part of an interactive learning environment creates a clear advantage to overall student engagement and performance.

Ready to Evaluate Your Own VR Training Pilot?

Get more information about this study by downloading the original research.

If this has inspired you to create your own VR training program or introducing a VR training module into your overall training program, we would love to talk to you.

Contact one of our training specialist here at PIXO VR. We’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of picking the right learning objectives to pilot, how to set up your first VR training studio, and ways to maximize virtual reality’s advantages in training programs.

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VR Training

PIXO VR was recently featured on CNBC, alongside Microsoft and STRIVR for our work in saving lives and millions of dollars in the prevention of workplace accidents with virtual reality training.
In this feature, CNBC covers the rapidly growing market for virtual reality training, expected to reach $2.2 billion by 2022 according to Greenlight Insights.

Let’s take a quick look at why virtual reality is exploding in the training industry. And, why industry analysts are increasingly looking to training, not gaming, as the fastest growing segment for the future of virtual reality.

How Virtual Reality Training is Saving Lives

In 2017, there were over 713 fall fatalities and over 4,414 preventable workplace accidents, numbers that have been rising year over year. Virtual reality is the most effective way to begin training against these dangerous scenarios, realistically and memorably, to lower these unnecessary injuries and fatalities.

Virtual Reality Training Can Simulate High-risk Scenarios

VR training can effectively recreate scenarios and environments that would otherwise be impossible to simulate in the real world.

Construction workers, first responders, and military personnel work in environments that are often too costly or risky to recreate with traditional training methods. Virtual reality is now allowing these high-risk workers to step into the most challenging real-world circumstances, while in the safety of a virtual training environment.

Virtual Reality Creates Engaging and Realistic Environments

Unlike traditional training practices, where slides, photos, and videos are the only ways to help students peer into realistic on-the-job scenarios, VR training puts them in the center of the action.

There is no tuning out, doodling, or flipping through Facebook while the instructor is trying to keep them safe. They’re 15-stories up, in the middle of a blazing chemical fire, or clearing a building. Believe me, they’re engaged, or they’re dead — with the fortunate ability to respawn and learn from their inattention.

All of this in a Practical and Hands-on Way with Proven Retention

Trainers are always looking for ways to help their students retain these life-saving skills. Virtual reality is a proven solution. Research continues to show and reinforce the power of virtual reality in learning retention. Recent studies document significantly higher retention rates when students are involved in VR training versus more conventional training methods.

These learning retention studies continue to reveal the same principle results — student engagement and hands-on learning combine to achieve higher levels of retention. Virtual reality is one of the few learning methods, other than more dangerous and costly on-the-job training, that can provide both of these essential elements.

How Virtual Reality Training is Saving Companies Millions

Many training directors are nervous about proposing virtual reality training initiatives because they assume that it’s too costly. The reality is quite the opposite — VR training is saving millions.

Virtual Reality Hardware and Software Costs Continue to Shrink

VR training, and specifically the hardware necessary to drop into these virtual environments, has long ago descended into the range of retail buyers.

Ask around your office. There are probably more than a handful of co-workers with kids rocking HTC Vives and Oculus Rifts to play their favorite video games — the same hardware you need to run a high-end VR training program.

You can easily outfit a state-of-the-art virtual reality learning studio for less than $2,000, a number that is sure to continue to drop. In fact, some of your conference rooms probably have more expensive projectors, (and who uses those anymore?).

Done Conventionally, Complicated or High-risk Training Can Be Very Expensive

Another aspect of the cost equation is the cost of the actual training. Complicated and risky practice often involves high-tech training facilities, expensive instructors, and travel and expenses — for each student.

VR training turns all of that into a realistic virtual training environment that all of your workers can safely train in, from wherever they work (even on a remote job site). And with PIXO’s Multi-User VR, you can also have multiple workers training together in the same virtual environment, while remotely located all over the world.

Virtual Reality Training Improves Speed to Competency and On-the-job Performance

Because traditional training often requires special facilities, instructor availability, and travel and expenses the ability to quickly train new workers is challenging and often bottlenecked.

With VR training, your training scenarios, instructors, and even assessments can be built right into the training modules, making them available on-demand to equip new workers. Furthermore, trainees can accomplish and re-accomplish training as often as they need to, or even refresh themselves at will.

How Virtual Reality Training Could Improve Your Training Program

Now it’s your turn to imagine all of the ways that virtual reality can enhance your current training programs.

Here are just a few of the things we hear from clients about their first VR training pilot programs.

More Engaging Learning Environment

Students love VR training. They are curious about the training format and then fascinated by the ability to leap into real-world challenges, even the most dangerous ones. No one is looking to get out of training when there is a virtual reality option. It’s too cool!

Better Learning Retention

We have cited the research, but companies are seeing the results. They can put the hardest — but at the same time, most realistic — on-the-job situations in front of students over and over again until they handle these scenarios flawlessly.

Train More Workers, Faster — Even if They’re Remote

No more complicated scheduling of workers, instructors, facilities, and travel. VR training gives you the ability to train your workforce wherever they may be, whenever they are available.

You Might Even Lower Your Training Costs

Don’t sweat the cost. There is an excellent possibility that virtual reality is your most cost-effective training choice.

Are you ready to give it a try?

There’s little question that virtual reality technology is ready for serious use in corporate training. In many cases, VR training has become the best, (and maybe only realistic), way to accomplish a wide variety of learning objectives. How will you pilot your first VR training experience? PIXO VR can help.

Custom — or Customized — Virtual Reality Training Solutions

PIXO VR makes it easy to work with us to get the solutions you need to fit your training objectives and budget.

With our growing Content Library, which offers individual modules that teach and train basic and almost universally needed skills, (such as OSHA hazard detection), you can get into VR training with a low-cost, “off-the-shelf” approach. Experiences in our Content Library start at just $475.00/month, with the flexibility to personalize those lessons to your company’s specs for an additional fee.

Looking for something more specific? Let’s talk about custom VR training options for your business.

Working with our award-winning team of 3D artists, designers, and engineers, we can use our state-of-the-art platform to build a custom Virtual Reality Training experience for any business.

Contact us today to discuss your training objectives and get a free quote.

We’re building new realities, every day

PIXO VR thinkers and makers are always innovating exciting new VR training content. Contact us to demo one of our current Content Library experiences, or to discuss a custom VR Training solution.

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Virtual Reality, VR Training

“I want to add virtual reality to my training program — but where do I start?”

This question, in some form, tends to kick off our first conversation with corporate training managers and executives. By now, most have heard the benefits of adding VR training to their programs, but there’s still something of a learning curve.

In this article, we’re going to discuss VR software for training and get you up to speed, quickly.

What Exactly is Virtual Reality?

It might seem silly to start here, but there’s a fair amount of confusion in the very definition of ‘virtual reality’.

When we talk about virtual reality, we’re describing a fully immersive, virtual world that completely replaces the physical environment (the “real” world). To achieve this immersive experience, the user’s eyes, and often ears, are completely obscured from the outside world by a screen and headphones, often built into the same HMD (head-mounted display). The computer then fully controls the inputs to these sight and sound sensors.

When you’re in a virtual reality experience, you’re operating within a simulated and, (in the case of PIXO’s VR), three-dimensional, photo-realistic, computer-generated world. This virtual world can be realistic, fantastical, or a blend of both.

In the realm of VR training, we’re typically creating realistic environments to simulate real-world scenarios and measuring various performance factors.

So that’s a working definition of virtual reality.

However, before we depart this topic, I think it’s necessary to differentiate virtual reality from two other closely related concepts — augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree video.

Augmented reality is adding computer-generated content to the world around you, augmenting it with additional visuals, sounds, and data. This technology is meant to ‘enrich’ the real world, but the virtual and real remain distinctly separate and neither interact with the other.  

A 360-degree video environment is a type of virtual experience. However, instead of being placed in an interactive world, you are placed inside of a static video and allowed to navigate and control your viewpoint within that world. Again, there is no active engagement in this virtual video environment.

For this guide, we’re going to focus on true virtual reality only.

Virtual Reality Authoring Tools

You want your virtual reality training environment to be as close to reality as possible, especially if you’re doing something like military, construction, safety, or first responder training. There’s little room for error if you’re teaching folks how to get a dangerous job done right the first time they encounter it in the real world.

These are ideal scenarios for VR training and far superior to most non-virtual alternatives.

Training programs that need this level of quality will require you to know more about the underlying technology to get the right experience. One of the best places to start exploring VR technology is by learning about the VR engine itself — this is the software that will run your virtual world.

The strengths and weaknesses of these software tools, along with the talent and experience of the development team using them will determine the quality of your training content and VR experiences.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular virtual reality engines.

  • Unreal is the premier VR engine, (in our experience). It produces higher quality visuals and smoother movement than other alternatives. Created by Epic Games, Unreal gives VR content designers and programmers access to the full C++ source code. This access provides developers ultimate control and few limitations. However, it does require more experienced talent — advanced 3D designers and skilled programmers, but that’s ultimately an advantage to the production of your training content.  Learn more about Unreal on their website.
  • Unity is very popular, especially among indie and small team VR studios. Some of their biggest strengths include an excellent development community and their use of C# and Javascript, which tend to be fundamental skills for any software engineer. However, Unity does not provide access to source code, which can be limiting for the purposes of high-quality enterprise deployment. Learn more about Unity on their website.
  • CryEngine is a lesser-known game engine which has been used for VR, but most VR studios will tell you it suffers from an outdated user interface. The biggest criticisms include disorganized documentation, its popularity seems to be waning, and there are several gray areas in their licensing agreement. Learn more about CryEngine on their website. One interesting note, related to CryEngine is that Amazon grabbed a lot of CryEngine engineers and built what some consider the modernized version of CryEngine — Amazon Lumberyard.

While all of these virtual reality authoring tools are excellent, the requirements of your VR training are going to inform which of these engines make the most sense.

In the case of PIXO VR, we specialize in and have developed a growing library of safety and high-impact training content for the construction, manufacturing, energy & utility verticals. We’ve found that, for these training programs, the superior visual fidelity and full access to the C++ source code allows for our proprietary forking of the Unreal engine, creating an improvement in quality of experience over our previous use of Unity.

Popular VR Headsets and Environments

Even though this article is about VR software, it’s essential we touch on hardware. The virtual reality immersive experience is highly dependent on the headset, and your VR hardware requirements can influence your VR software decisions.

Here is a brief rundown of VR hardware and the ideal VR training uses of each.

Professional Training Content

HTC Vive Pro – HTC’s Vive and Vive Pro are among the most advanced VR headsets on the market today. This headset is going to deliver some of the most realistic training experiences and leave your employees actually asking for more training time. Crazy resolutions, powerful hardware, and tons of sensors make this the preference for enterprise training departments in need of highly realistic and detailed VR content.

HTC Vive Pro

Windows Mixed Reality – Microsoft has taken a slightly different approach to the VR headset, using a variety of hardware manufacturers (HP, Lenovo, Dell, etc.), allowing it to run on both high-end and more basic desktops. As the name suggests, the Mixed Reality headset straddles the fence between VR and AR experiences, accommodating both. Critically, the HP Windows Mixed Reality headset can be paired with the HP Z VR Backpack — a high-powered wearable unit that allows for a tetherless VR experience. For pure mobility, the WMR and HP Z can’t be beat. (If, for whatever reason, a tetherless experience isn’t necessary, the HP Z can also be run in a more basic docked, desktop mode.)  

HP Z VR


Oculus Rift — As “the one that started it all”, Oculus has been aggressively improving their platforms since the debut of the Rift in 2016. While Oculus was one of the earliest entrants in the VR headset market, they have struggled a bit to get out of the R&D and beta phase. Only recently have they become a robust and professional peer competitor to HTC’s Vive and Vive Pro models.

Oculus Rift
Introduction to VR and Gaming

Sony PlayStation VR — If you’re a console gamer this is a great way to get a pretty good first virtual reality experience within a consumer price range.

Playstation VR

Cheaper “VR Lite” Experiences

The last three headsets on our list are only recommended as entrees into the world of virtual reality — “beginner-level”, if you will. These are meant to work with your mobile phone and can provide a teasing glimpse into the potential of a more complete virtual reality.  

Lower Cost VR Headsets

  • Samsung Gear VR
  • Google Daydream View
  • Google Cardboard

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re serious about sampling a true VR training experience, buy one of these if you like, but know they are not the final destination of your journey, merely the first steps. If you want to jump ahead to the good stuff, contact one of our VR training experts, and we’ll bring “the real thing” to you.

How to Invest in the Best VR Training Software

As you start considering an investment in VR training, here are the most crucial steps:

  1. Talk to a VR Training Expert Early – They can cut through all of the techno-babble in the market, educate you on the right trends and innovations to follow and help you explore the possibilities, opportunities, and ideal places to introduce compelling new training scenarios.
  2. Find a Good Starting Point – Focus on one or two specific areas of training that will benefit from a virtual reality — fully-immersive and realistic — training environment. Typical starting points are to replace training that is traditionally dangerous, expensive, or disruptive to normal operations.
  3. Content, Content, Content! – This is probably your most important consideration. A fully realized VR Training program will require a solid library of training content that meets your training needs — but how do you get what you need? While many training requirements will require some amount of custom content creation, it’s not necessarily one or the other — custom or premade experiences. Instead, employ a combination of both: existing training modules that can be customized for your needs. If you can find a company like PIXO VR that offers an existing library and a subscription pricing model, (and to our knowledge, we’re one of very, very few doing this), you can start much faster and substantially cheaper by leveraging some nimble, lightweight personalizations that can tailor existing VR Training content to meet your own specifications. This avoids the sticker shock of starting from scratch with a fully custom VR experience that only you can use. If you’d like to know more, ask us about our VR Content Library subscriptions.

As always, PIXO VR is happy to help you explore this fascinating and compelling new world of training. If you have any questions about VR training software, content, or hardware we always enjoy talking shop. Schedule a free consultation with one of our VR training experts today!

Further Reading

Getting Started with VR: The Best Software Tools are Free, Makezine

Feature Photo by Lux Interaction on Unsplash
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VR Training

There’s no question that VR is the biggest thing to happen to training since PowerPoint, (All hail Mighty PowerPoi–zzzzz. Sorry. Nodded off there.)

But like any training technique — even PowerPoint — it’s important to always evaluate whether or not it will actually achieve our specific training goals.

In this article, I want to give you a simple framework to evaluate whether virtual reality fits into your current or future workforce training program.

Are the Learning Objectives Still Relevant?

There’s a tendency to retrofit our learning objectives into our favorite teaching technique. If we feel comfortable lecturing, building PowerPoint presentations, giving webinars, or recording training videos, there is a real possibility that our syllabus is going to be full of that preferred medium.

Virtual reality training is a hot training tool, but it might not be ideal for every learning objective.

If I’m trying to ensure that my job site supervisor can adequately prepare a project status report, it might make sense to simply show him or her a couple of sample forms and then hand them a blank one along with a pencil to practice.

By contrast, if I need to make sure my workers know how to properly inspect a safety harness, hook up to a safety line, and appropriately move around and work from scaffolding thirteen stories up, I might want to consider a VR training aide to meet my fall protection learning objective.

Different tools are appropriate for different tasks.

Is the Medium Effective?

Every student learns in a slightly different way. When we’re designing our training programs, it’s important to consider these various learning styles and adapt accordingly. Keeping learning styles top-of-mind enables us to make sure the mediums we choose will teach as many people and across as many styles, as possible.

One of the models we like to use in developing new training modules is Neil Fleming’s VARK model of learning styles. In this model, Fleming breaks learning styles into the following categories: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetics.

Virtual reality training environments, by design, must include a combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic responsive feedback. Therefore, in most cases, virtual reality is going to be a highly effective approach for any and all kinds of learners.

Are Expectations Clear?

Before entering into any learning scenario, the student must understand what the expectations are. They must ask questions like, “What am I trying to accomplish?”. “How do I know when I am successful?” “How will I know if I am failing?”

Because virtual reality is a simulation of the real world, VR training can be as messy and ambiguous as an actual workplace. In a lot of ways, that’s one of the significant advantages of VR training. But, to create a successful training program, it’s imperative to make sure that the expectations of the student are clear before they enter the virtual training scenario.

Two easy-to-make mistakes when hiring a VR Training company is to expect that virtual reality training should embrace all of the complexity that is possible on a job site, or conversely, leaving things excessively open-ended and general.

Virtual worlds can very closely replicate all of the possibilities of the real world. But to create impactful training, it’s important to work first from the most basic, straightforward scenarios to build individual employee knowledge and skills, and then progress onto the full complexity of job or skill training.

Is the Learner Engaged?

The most common point of failure in any kind of training is an unengaged learner. If a student simply isn’t paying attention or isn’t actively engaged in absorbing the material, the best content and trainer in the world can’t produce a well-trained and fully-equipped employee.

Engaging each student is another one of those areas where VR training excels.

Right from the beginning, you have to pick up the VR goggles, grab the controllers, and get to it. There’s no opportunity to rock back on your chair and slyly play Candy Crush while the instructor drones and mindlessly advances PowerPoint slides. What’s more, the power of precision data collection within virtual reality software can help you determine exactly how engaged each student is in your learning scenarios.

For example, if they are supposed to inspect a piece of equipment or device for safety: Are they spending enough time focused on and examining the device? (And here we mean “focused” literally — are they actually looking at the right parts of the device? Are they using their inspection equipment correctly?) With our gaze-tracking feature, PIXO VR Training can determine where an employee is physically looking within the scenario, and for how long.

Another way we keep trainees engaged is by going beyond simple “pass/fail”, “right/wrong” answers and testing. The real world, as we know, contains a lot of nuance and gray areas. PIXO VR’s real-time scoring and analytics can provide a much more exacting view into how trainees actually train — did they get everything correct in a given lesson or were certain aspects only partially correct? Did they “get lucky” on anything or do they really know their stuff?

Virtual reality training can keep trainees more engaged — and in more ways — than any other kind of training out there.   

Is the Environment Realistic and Relevant?

Depending on how you plan to, or are currently, using virtual reality in your training program, how you establish the virtual reality environment can make a difference. One common mistake is to overgeneralize the virtual environment, often by trying to hack together a do-it-yourself solution or save a few dollars.

The overarching goal with virtual reality training is realism without risk; dissolving the mental barrier between virtual and actual reality in a way that ensures everyone goes home safe and sound…and skilled.

Training in a virtual environment that is too removed, general, or unrelated to the actual operating environment can negate any benefit to VR training, (or indeed any training technique).

If you’re going to leverage the benefits of virtual reality it’s important to, as strictly as possible, simulate your actual environment or task. If the student has to do too much extrapolation to make the training fit their day-to-day activities, or do mental gymnastics to imagine themselves in the environment, less of that training will transfer into the workplace or job site.

It’s here that the quality of the art and realism of the environment really matters, and why PIXO VR ensures all our VR Training experiences are designed to be of a superior, AAA-game quality visual fidelity.

If a student learning in VR encounters vague, imprecise shapes that look more like a drawing or model and less like ‘the real thing’, that environment will only convey “the idea” of a given machine or place. In that circumstance, they’re less apt to take the training seriously. Whether they’re engaged or not, an internal barrier will be put up that says, “this is just a game, this isn’t real”, and the training will suffer due to a lack of immersion.

If a company is considering a VR Training solution, they would do well to insist on a premium VR experience, complete with fully immersive and interactive photorealistic simulations that communicate a message in the minds of their employees that “I am really here, this is just like the job site.”

The good news is that virtual reality environments are built with software. Therefore, the incremental cost of creating a realistic and relevant environment, especially versus the physical alternative, has become much more affordable.

Will it Achieve Better Outcomes?

Ultimately, this is the question that should always be playing in the back of your mind.

Is what I’m doing, the techniques I’m using, and the content I’m presenting developing more competent, better equipped, and safer employees? Is my training delivering better results for the people and the company?

If you’re in charge of designing and delivering training in your organization, the question of effectiveness goes beyond just hitting the learning targets. For most training managers, this question needs to extend into other areas: “Are my training methodologies more cost-effective? Do they provide greater long-term knowledge retention, and fewer mistakes and accidents in the field? Will they allow me to more efficiently train a larger workforce without degrading the quality of that training?”

Many of these questions have been addressed throughout this assessment framework, and VR training evaluates out as a highly compelling solution to level-up most training programs.

As you begin evaluating your training, there are sure to be questions. If you’re considering VR training for the first time or trying to get more from your current VR training, don’t hesitate to contact one of our VR training specialists.


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VR Training

Virtual reality training is finding its way into a variety of industries and training programs. But before deciding on a VR training solution, one needs to consider the best way to use VR training as a tool.

When building-out training programs and modules, we typically begin with an outline of our learning objectives. Our product team consults with subject matter experts to strategize and flesh-out the training content that will most effectively move the students to mastery of their learning objectives. Once we feel we have identified the right material, we leverage our team’s background in AAA-game design and development and begin to consider how best to deliver (read: actually teach) the content itself.

Determining the “best way” to deliver training content can quickly become complicated and debatable. Let’s consider some of the factors we should be weighing when we’re thinking about this part of training development:

  • Accessibility — What is the best way to make sure everyone that needs the training can get it as simply, conveniently, and cheaply as possible?
  • Realistic Scenarios and Environments — How can we best simulate the actual situations, environments, and scenarios that our students will face, both day-to-day and as they might present themselves over time?
  • Retention — What medium, cadence, and training techniques will help the student best retain the information when they return to their daily, on-the-job activities?

When you’re considering where and when virtual reality training is the appropriate approach or content delivery mechanism, we recommend this simple framework.

Considering this framework, and thinking about the next training program build-out, let’s look at when VR training makes the most sense. (Remember, anything can be virtualized, but it always makes sense to use the right tool for the right task.)

When realistic training is critical

Every trainer strives to make their training as practical as possible. We all want our students to go back into the field, and when faced with a challenge, think, “my training came in handy there.”

But, there are some situations where realism goes beyond a pure value add.

It should be no surprise that VR training is making some of its most significant impacts in places like construction, manufacturing, energy & utilities, and first responder training environments. These training programs have to be as realistic as possible if there is any hope of the trainee getting it right when the real world adds in complexity, stress, and urgency.

When on the job training is expensive

Training can get very expensive, especially in programs where there’s inherent complexity or when learning to do something — flawlessly — becomes a matter of life and death.

At PIXO VR, we provide several VR training modules in the area of construction safety training. Safety training is a perfect example of where virtual training makes a lot of sense (pun fully intended). To create a productive physical training environment, say, for Fall Protection training, you need a large warehouse or external space and a full array of structures, harnesses, tie-off points, and other equipment just to cover the basics of preventing harmful or potentially fatal falls, (which claim hundreds of lives each and every year).

Fall Protection safety training is just one example.

Think about the cost of recreating realistic and varied training scenarios for the rest of the so-called ‘Fatal Four’, (the four leading workplace killers on American construction sites), which are: Falls (as we just mentioned), Struck-by Object, Caught-in/between, and Electrocution deaths.

The sheer cost of physically simulating or replicating these kinds of common yet unpredictable dangers would be sky-high, (to say nothing of their impossibility to fully simulate in the physical, real world) — and is almost certainly why the Fatal Four is the Fatal Four. Even as a wealthy and fully industrialized nation, we just don’t do a very good job of training to avoid them, and cost is a big reason.

When training itself is dangerous

Many training environments or scenarios are just as hazardous as the job or task itself. In fact, in many industries, training injuries can rival actual workplace injuries.

Many training scenarios are degraded because they require putting students in precarious physical situations, hard to recreate positions, in and around different equipment, or because they require production operations to be shut down to train. These safety limitations that undermine realistic training are all too common in industries like defense, first responder, and construction training.

Imagine trying to realistically train someone how to avoid getting shot by a co-workers’ malfunctioning nail gun, or to avoid being pinned to a structure by a forklift, or to dodge a backhoe — without actually putting them at risk in a “live-fire” demonstration. With hazards such as those Fatal Four scenarios, about the best we can do with current training methods is simply to tell someone to “look out” for these dangers or to read about cases where it’s happened. That’s hardly sufficient training.

In contrast, VR training can almost entirely remove the possibility of training injury, without compromising the integrity and realism of the training scenario.  

When realistic scenarios are rare

Regardless of whether you’re considering virtual reality or not, many current training programs tend to forget to include outlier scenarios.

These unusual or infrequent situations can be especially valuable in improving trainees problem-solving and decision-making skills. Adding in these scenarios are also crucial training for jobs where it’s critical for workers to get things right when faced with unique or unexpected challenges.

VR training provides an excellent opportunity to infuse your training with a variety of non-standard, infrequent, or even downright bizarre randomized scenarios. PIXO VR’s unique ability to change things up keeps training realistic and trainees on their toes.

When a high degree of judgment is required  

Traditional training techniques can neglect the variability needed to evaluate judgment, problem-solving, and decision-making.

When teaching these kinds of soft skills, it’s common to present a variety of case studies and real-world examples during training sessions. The goal, of course, is to show enough relevant examples to help students correctly identify and respond to similar situations.

The problem comes in adequately evaluating the acquisition and retention of these problem-solving skills.

The most common traditional training approach is to use a multiple choice assessment. More advanced training evaluations may include a practical assessment. But both of these tools suffer a strong coaching bias — meaning the right answer is always available as a choice. Developing better training assessment is one area where VR training can provide a far superior alternative.  

Virtual reality assessment modules can safely drop your trainee into a variety of scenarios, completely unsupported — forcing them to figure things out on the fly. Add to this virtual reality’s singular ability to present trainers with a “god’s eye view” and evaluation perspective, and you have an ideal assessment tool.

When observation and evaluation is difficult

We’ve touched on this throughout the article, but training assessments can be challenging. Difficulties in measuring learning retention are especially real in the case of intricate, complex, or dangerous jobs. Trying to design an effective assessment tool or merely trying to observe the trainee during testing can be nearly impossible.

As software, PIXO VR’s virtual reality experiences have the game-changing ability to present built-in assessments along the way, from an omniscient viewpoint. There’s no need to figure out how to physically get an instructor into position to see what a trainee is doing, the entire VR Training session is being tracked down to the most minuscule detail, (including recording the trainees’ first-person perspective — what we call “gaze tracking” — what a trainee is actually looking at).

Virtual reality training is ideal in overcoming some of the most common training and assessment challenges. The unique opportunity to design and construct a realistic, affordable, and optimized training environment, with the added benefit of built-in observation and assessment make VR training a perfect fit for many enterprise training programs.

Have questions about the opportunities and effectiveness of introducing virtual reality into your training programs? Talk to a PIXO VR Training expert today!

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VR Training

Customers often come to PIXO VR with an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to virtual reality training. However, more often than not we are recommending VR training as complementary, not a “rip and replace” solution to their current program.

That’s why we prepared this handy list of some of the most common places where VR training can improve or enhance your current training program.

Complicated or Hard to Evaluate Skills

Virtual reality, since it’s software, is particularly well suited for gathering and evaluating data associated with complex activities performed in the VR training environment.

If your current training program is required to teach things that are complicated or difficult to evaluate then VR training might be the solution.

Developing assessments that can accurately evaluate a student required to accomplish multiple steps in a precise sequence, or in a dynamic course of actions based on a decision-tree can be nearly impossible. However, computers, and specifically virtual reality software, are very good at measuring and evaluating these kinds of activities.

Similarly, virtual reality software can help construct environments and build-in assessments for scenarios that are difficult to replicate in a traditional training environment. Construction safety training is a good example. It can be tough to replicate a construction job site much less evaluate a trainee thirteen stories high, cutting a steel girder or sitting in a tiny bucket and repairing downed electrical wires.

High Risk or Dangerous Training Scenarios

Often, training programs are forced to avoid critical areas of training because the training scenarios are inherently dangerous. This lack of practice or realism can put your trainees at risk in the real world workplace.

Again, the benefit of virtual reality software is that you can create a photorealistic simulation that puts the trainee in the most extreme and hazardous situations, but with complete safety. What’s more, the advances in current VR training technology will give your students the equivalent experiences of stress, distraction, and urgency that can further complicate these dangerous situations.

Practicing Infrequent, But Important Situations

Many current training programs rely on an extensive amount of on-the-job training. Often, this is some of the most effective and valuable training that a new or transitioning employee can receive. This training format puts them in direct contact with the tasks and challenges they will face on an average day.

But what about those critical moments when they will encounter something that is rare, but not necessarily unknown?

Training and EH&S (environmental health and safety) departments are often full of stories of bizarre or uniquely challenging scenarios that our trainees are likely to encounter eventually, but will probably not have the opportunity to experience or practice in on the job training. Adding to the importance of finding a solution to exposing students and giving them a few practices in a training environment is the fact that, often, these are situations that will require them to do things correctly or someone could get seriously hurt.

Just for example, here are a few industry-specific scenarios to get your mind thinking of similar challenges in your own training programs:

  1. AEROSPACE: Recovering positive control when a pilot encounters icing during a flight
  2. UTILITIES: Proper procedures if personnel are caught on a tower when a fast-moving storm system approaches
  3. MILITARY & FIRST RESPONDERS: Facing a potential “blue-on-blue” (friendly fire) scenario during urban combat operations

Each of these scenarios is unlikely to be experienced during initial on-the-job training, and are not wise to recreate in a real-world simulation. However, each would be easy to generate in a VR training environment that would allow the student or trainee maximum leeway for catastrophic failure — and critically — as many repetitions as they need until they perform the proper actions flawlessly.

Improving Efficiency of Onboarding or Cross-training

One of the most common reasons we neglect proper training is because it is often inefficient to achieve within normal business operations. We either have to try to train large groups quickly or shut down production to turn a functioning workplace into a static training environment.

VR training, especially as the equipment continues to become simpler and more straightforward, can be the easiest and most cost-effective way to give more employees high quality, fully immersive — and interactive — training.

With PIXO VR, not only can your trainees experience photorealistic environments and situations, they can also interact and learn as a team while geographical separated, even by thousands of miles. Our multi-user functionality allows you to train up to dozens of employees in a single environment at the same time. You can also give them the same high quality of training you would with physical, in-person training.

All of this without the loss of productivity and expense of traveling to a training class or shutting down a facility.

Retooling or Updating Procedures

Processes and procedures change. Unfortunately, updates to training manuals and course materials can be expensive and slow to reflect those changes. As a result, many employees still use the protocols and procedures they learned in their initial training — processes that have long since been found to be inefficient, incorrect in some important way, or even dangerous.

If you’re using VR training, the software can be efficiently refactored to roll out new processes the next time a trainee dons their VR headset. Perhaps even more valuable is the ability to actually test new methods and measure their effectiveness or safety before you turn them into standard operating procedures.

Virtual reality training has the power to improve not just the trainee’s performance, but the training itself.

Low Productivity or Poor Performance

Are there areas of your business operations that are consistently experiencing low productivity or poor performance? Are there procedures or goals that employees continually miss?

Virtual reality training is a great way to dig into why these things are happening. By putting experienced employees or supervisors into a virtual reality simulation, you can test and refine these problem areas. Through a series of realistic simulations, you can troubleshoot the most likely real-world pain points. Then, with a hypothesis in hand, you can begin to test alternative processes and approaches to eliminate the bottleneck or remove the risky part of your existing operations.

Solutions worked out in virtual reality can then be incorporated into future VR training and rolled out across real-world operations as new, well-validated procedures.

Lowering the Cost of Expensive Training Programs

One of the best places to start introducing the benefits of VR training is by looking to offset the raw expense of current training processes.

Here are a few great examples of training where VR can create real efficiency:

  • Training that requires travel, which can be expensive and a drag on both profitability and productivity
  • Training that requires teams or employees in different locations to collaborate
  • Training that requires elaborate or custom (read: expensive) training environments
  • Training that requires extensive on-the-job training

Each of these examples can use one or more of the unique benefits of VR training that often lower training costs:

  • VR training can be done on-site or off-site with minimal specialized equipment
  • VR training can connect people thousands of miles apart in a single interactive training environment
  • VR software can simulate even the most complex and nuanced training environments and situations
  • VR training can efficiently run trainees through a full library of common and uncommon scenarios — including disasters or emergencies — to get them up to full speed faster, no matter the challenges they might face

It’s easy for some to get caught up in the high-tech angle of VR training and miss its obvious and highly practical advantages. Think of virtual reality training as just another teaching method. The technology and cost of this method have become so accessible that it’s less about whether you should introduce VR training, but where to use it first.

Are you considering introducing Virtual Reality into your current workforce training program? Contact one of our VR Training experts today to discuss your specific needs.


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Construction Safety Training, News, Virtual Reality, VR Training

In 2016, there were 370 fatal falls out of 991 construction fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction safety and fall protection training, in particular, is a severe problem that needs a better solution. Consider this true story…

Bill enters the job trailer, after a little small talk, he grabs his harness. Giving it a quick once-over he puts it on along with the rest of his safety equipment, like every other day for months.

On his short walk over to the construction elevator, his mind wanders off. He wonders if his daughter remembered the appropriate bow to accent her cheer uniform for this afternoon’s football game. Otherwise, he’s going to get a panicked text message on his way home to track it down and get it to her before kick-off — just like last week.

A quick and sudden jerk brings him back to reality as the elevator abruptly stops and opens to a scaffolding catwalk, three stories up. After a little over a month on this job site, this view is pretty standard stuff. He hooks up his safety line and walks out to where he’s working this morning and gets to it.

A little over thirty minutes into the job, he reaches down for a tool. Suddenly Bill feels uneasy. Then he realizes the platform is giving way under him. Just as what’s happening fully hits him, he tries to grab for something, anything to stop his fall. He feels himself helplessly flailing.

Just as he begins to panic, he lurches to a stop. He thinks, “My harness!” Thank goodness for my…

Something snaps and Bill falls three stories to his death.

Luckily, today Bill is doing fall protection training in a safe, but shockingly realistic, virtual reality training environment. But, the missed fracture in the D-ring on his harness is an oversight that is not likely to ever go missed again.

Our ability to identify and assess risk is acquired through training and experience. In the case of construction workers, this training can be just as dangerous and unforgiving as the actual day-to-day, on-the-job experience. Which is precisely why the benefits of virtual reality training for construction safety is so compelling.

Let’s review just a few of the most important benefits of using VR training in your construction training program.

1. Virtual Reality Provides a Safer Training Environment

Construction is inherently dangerous.

Not only are the skilled construction activities dicey — moving tons of lumber, drywall, steel, and other building materials, pouring thousands of pounds of concrete, running and connecting electricity, and on and on — but we also put these men and women in tiny buckets and on narrow scaffolding at dizzying heights.

Then, we ask them to stay safe.

Keeping these workers safe is its own dangerous game. Putting these folks into realistic training scenarios is essential. To be effective, this training must recreate not only realistic scenarios, but also the emotions, sensations, and distractions that haunt these hazardous work environments.

Historically, attempts to achieve quality construction safety training has required building large, expensive, and roughly equivalent construction environments. Of course, in recreating these simulated construction sites, you necessarily recreate, to some extent, all of the same danger zones and risks of injury and even death.

Virtual Reality Training solves many of the safety issues inherent in the traditional safety training that many construction companies continue to use. The VR training environment is 100% safe and gives an arguably more accurate construction environment in which to train.

2. Ability to Create Riskier, More Realistic Training

Creating physical construction simulations has so many limitations. Try finding a training facility that can accommodate a fifteen story superstructure, swinging tons of steel with an enormous crane, or pouring thousands of pounds of cement footing.

It’s impossible. So, what do we do?

We build structures to reasonable heights, we swing simulated loads, and we role play or inject equivalent distractions. The limitation of the physical world, training budgets, and rational risk tolerances force us to train in environments that can only simulate a tiny fraction of the real risks and hazards of a real job site.

Virtual reality training allows us to push training exercises to the very edge of realism, up to and including deadly hazards and actions.

Simulating the actual hazards and results of following (or not following) safety procedures is one powerful advantage. We can practice most, if not all, of the hazardous activities that a worker will be expected to perform in accordance with the project plan. Also, they can practice these assignments under the same working conditions they will experience on the job site.

With VR training you can also introduce the realistic sensations of heights, distractions, stress, and environmental hazards. These mental and emotional hazards are often missed in training because we simply can’t push the risk envelope.

3. Virtual Reality Training Allows for Endless Repetition

Repetition is the secret to mastery.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best selling book Outliers: The Story of Success, introduces the idea that mastery in a well-defined discipline can be achieved with approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. In construction, that kind of repetition is prohibitively expensive, and consequently, the majority of that deliberate practice necessarily takes place on-the-job.

Virtual reality training has the power to make this level of deliberate practice much more, well, practical. The incremental cost of running a VR training scenario is de minimus, unlike more traditional training in the physical world.

With VR training, workers get to strap on the VR headset and go at it again and again until they can accomplish the task flawlessly — and safely.

4. Real Life is Random. Virtual Reality Software Can Generate That Randomness

We all know that the world is full of random moments. However, when most training is being designed, that kind of unpredictable randomness — interruptions, distractions, weather, changes of all kinds — is marginalized or removed in order to maintain focus on the teaching of core concepts. Unfortunately, when this is done, realism is reduced and training becomes less contextual and relevant to the real world.

We often think we’re basically “stuck” with this less-than-optimal training for a variety of reasons. The two most common challenges in randomizing training are cost and trainee evaluation. In the physical world, it is simply too expensive to build the requisite number of training scenarios. In this same constraining physical world, it’s difficult or impossible for trainers to effectively evaluate trainee performance when there are too many extraneous secondary scenarios and variables.

Once again, virtual reality software removes those barriers. The best VR training modules are just now introducing randomization of the kind you might experience in a high-quality video game. Randomization ensures you never “teach to the test”, or allow trainees to temporarily memorize “the hard parts” of certain lessons — things they might quickly forget after the completion of their training.

What’s more, this randomization comes at no increase in cost and leverages one of the most significant advantages of premium virtual reality training: much of the trainee evaluation is baked into the software itself.

5. Virtual Reality Provides a Safe Environment to Test and Evaluate Procedures

When we think about administering training, we often forget about the testing and evaluation that has to go into validating the actual training. In construction safety training, this is particularly important.

Too often, we rely on assumptions, or even worse, accident reports to develop and assess our safety procedures. This approach is made even more ineffective by the fact that construction safety is often dynamic, based on the current project plan, available equipment, and working conditions/environment — all factors that probably should require refinements in on-site safety procedures.

With virtual reality training software, we can construct scenarios that are specific to the job site or project planning scenarios and then realistically and safely test and evaluate those procedures. You can also test project plans to ensure that you are creating project plans that are realistic and can be safely executed.

6. Immersive VR Training Can Increase Trainee Focus

How many times have you been in a training room and your attention wanders? Thinking about lunch, returning a text message, wondering why you’re covering this again, just waiting for it to end, or simply daydreaming are only a few examples of all-too-human mental distractions that can degrade the training process.

Sitting in a classroom or even waiting in line for your turn on the platform are all limitations of the physical training environment; restrictions that allow for trainees to lose focus and miss critical points of instruction.

Virtual reality has the advantage of being fully immersive. Because VR training strives to fully replicate the physical world and all of the disparate elements in that real-world, you have to stay on your toes at all times. And while, depending on the supply of hardware, some trainees may have to wait to get into a VR headset, others can follow along, watching their journey and lesson unfold from a first-person perspective on a nearby HD screen, turning passive waiting into active learning.

This realistic and immersive training environment helps trainees maintain their attention and concentration on each training task posed to them.

7. Virtual Reality Training Gives Trainers Better Evaluation Tools

We previously mentioned the challenges of evaluating trainees and even the training itself. These challenges are particularly acute in construction training.

In many of the construction safety training programs used today, trainers are struggling to evaluate trainees under less than ideal circumstances. Trainers are either assessing from a safe, but obscured vantage point, or struggling to evaluate from the same precarious positions as the student – extreme heights, narrow spaces, unstable platforms.

In contrast, a training environment constructed with virtual reality software can put trainers in the best possible position to observe and evaluate their trainees. Besides, the software can also capture data points that help analyze why trainees are experiencing success and failure – view and movement tracking as well as biometrics.

Another benefit to evaluating training in virtual reality is the simplicity of collecting and analyzing data – no more clipboards and tally sheets.

8. Training Can Be Customized for Specific Sites, Scenarios, and Standards

Every company and job site is unique. And no matter how consistent we try to be with construction safety, the real-world will always throw some curveballs our way.

Each project will likely have its own special challenges and problems because of location, unique requirements, weather, or just the complexity of the project itself. General construction safety training can leave workers exposed to or unfamiliar with local job hazards.

Virtual reality software provides a huge advantage in the flexibility and costs to offer site- and company-specific construction training.

Physical training facilities rarely can be reconfigured to approximate any particular job site realistically. And most construction projects can’t absorb the lost time and additional cost of shutting down portions of a job site for training.Necessarily, with increased customization comes increased cost, but these costs will almost certainly pale in comparison to those of closing a real-world job site for one or more days for training purposes, or the inherent risks of O.J.T., (on-the-job training) for the same purpose.Further, different companies often have slightly different ways of doing things; specific protocols and standards that help define how a company operates. Premium VR training can accommodate these variations for a more tailored training experience.

9. Virtual Reality Can Make Training More Efficient

Many of the benefits that we have reviewed so far point to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of virtual reality over traditional, physical training environments.

Virtual reality training allows for your construction training safety programs to be far more relevant, site-specific, frequent, and repeatable without significantly increasing cost or time. In fact, studies and real-world applications of VR Training show it drives down the time needed to learn the same information usually taught with more traditional training methods. This Deloitte Insights article points out that in 2017, KFC employed a VR Training simulation to help teach their trainees their world-famous “secret recipe” for preparing chicken. According to KFC, with VR, trainees mastered the five steps needed to make the brand’s namesake fried chicken in just 10 minutes — as compared to the 25 minutes needed to the learn the same thing using conventional training.

10. Virtual Reality Training Research Indicates Higher Retention

All the training in the world is worthless unless it sticks.

While VR Training is still relatively new, there is a lot of research around what helps trainees to retain their training. Many of these factors are inherent characteristics of virtual reality training.

Here are just a few VR training characteristics that increase retention:

  • Consistency – By using software, even with randomization, every training scenario can be reliably delivered in a precise and controlled way.

  • Frequency – VR training can be run over and over again with no additional incremental cost or trainee risk.

  • Relevance – Software allows us to reconfigure and customize the training environment cheaply.

  • Immersion – Virtual reality gives us the luxury of dropping a trainee into a fully immersive and realistic training environment that can be pushed to extremes.

The research continues to reaffirm the overall effectiveness of virtual reality training, especially in studies targeted explicitly at the challenges of delivering construction safety training.

Bonus: Virtual Reality Training Lowers Training Costs

By this point, you’ve probably already picked up on the thread of cost savings throughout this list of benefits. Using software and some relatively inexpensive hardware can slash the cost of realistically simulating a broad spectrum of construction hazards and evaluate the proper execution of safety procedures.

Cost-savings permeate all facets of a comprehensive safety training program. But, probably some of the biggest savings are realized in reducing the need to either physically create or travel to an adequate training facility or temporarily shutting down an actual job site to provide a viable training environment.

The bottom line is construction safety training is a non-negotiable expense. However, if you can do it at a fraction of the cost and time, and it’s more effective than the alternative, then the business case for VR training becomes overwhelming.

How PIXO VR Can Help Your Construction Safety Training

PIXO VR is currently developing a ‘Focus Fourpack’, providing Virtual Reality Training experiences concerned with construction’s “Fatal Four,” four of the leading workplace killers, responsible for more than half of the industry’s worker deaths in 2016. The first of these, PIXO VR Fall Protection, is now available, with the remaining three slated for completion by early 2019. The Fatal Four include:

  1. Falls – (38.7% of total construction deaths in 2016)

  2. Struck by Object – (9.4%)

  3. Electrocutions – (8.3%)

  4. Caught-in/between – (7.3%)

As the economy drives increased construction activity and our construction sites become increasingly complex and technological, these sad statistics will only decline if and when we improve and innovate our current training to make it more effective.

PIXO VR is aggressively working towards a VR Training solution that protects your workers with the most realistic and effective training environment available.

But, talk is cheap, we want the opportunity to show you.

Contact us to experience the cutting edge of construction safety training.

 
Photo by Tuan Minh on Unsplash
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Expert Insights, News, VR Training
One of the early hurdles to widespread adoption of virtual reality has been a problem of perception. For many, their only experience with, or awareness of, VR has been through games, and the last thing most VC firms or major corporations want to invest in is a novelty—something fun but mostly impractical.

For those who follow VR more closely, however—and particularly the rise of Virtual Reality Training—the notion that VR is just another high tech game is quickly fading as results and peer-reviewed studies start to pour in which continue to validate the effectiveness of the technology as a learning tool.

With that said, we have something to confess: some of PIXO VR’s best and brightest hail from the world of — gasp! — AAA-video games. (We know, it’s shocking. But bear with us.)

Now, you might think we would try to hide or downplay that fact so as not to reinforce the “VR is a game” narrative, (in fact, our gaming pedigree was hinted at in this recent piece about us by influential VR industry blogger Alice Bonasio appearing in The Next Web), but the truth is, our success as a VR Training company is owed in no small measure to our roots, and those of our team, in entertainment and gaming.

And when you think about it, the connection makes a lot of sense.

After all, it’s hard to discount the importance—arguably the primacy—of video games to pop culture; they’ve become a bedrock feature of modern life, with some analyses suggesting they’ve outpaced sales of more traditional entertainment such as film and music.

As an illustration, data released a few years ago showed video games brought in $83.6 billion in global revenue, more than double the movie industry’s $36.4 billion. In 2017, gaming brought in $108.9 billion.

The practical effect of this phenomenon is that whole generations (including this author’s) have grown up in a world saturated by video games. Those games, of course, continue to improve in visual fidelity and sophistication, enabling Average Joes and Janes the world over to hone their virtualized skills as athletes, warriors, hunters—learners and absorbers of all manner of digital content.

Perhaps you see what we’re getting at.

Put simply, many who are now entering their productive years in the labor market were raised on video games. They’ve been immersed in gaming culture, literally reshaping their brains in the process, and it’s become an important tool for learning new things.

Ben Mazza knows that because that’s the world he and several other PIXO VR graphic artists, engineers, and designers had a hand in creating. He says he and other “reformed video game developers”, as he calls his colleagues, leverage their experience in AAA-games to inform their Virtual Reality Training experiences.


“In effect, many of us spent our early careers in training—but it was training people how to be better martial artists, soldiers, athletes, and superheroes”, says Mazza, who now serves as PIXO VR’s Head of Product Development.

Mazza says there are critical aspects of training that video games have long provided and which he and his team now consciously build into PIXO VR’s experiences, including the ability to both learn lessons and then apply those lessons to specific scenarios in order to solve problems.

“It’s the difference between storytelling and what’s been called storyliving”, Mazza says. “In VR, we can demonstrate cause-and-effect far better than can be done with a book, classroom lecture, or traditional computer-based training. We’re not ‘talking at’ trainees with them passively listening, they’re engaged. They’re present in the experience and the choices they make will affect their outcomes.”

If that’s how young people are learning, he asks, doesn’t it make sense to teach them marketable workplace skills the same way?

Mazza’s not the only one who sees the value in exploiting lessons learned from gaming to more serious training pursuits. PIXO VR’s Technical Director, Todd Kuehnl, has also worked extensively in AAA-games and says they can get a bad rap.

“Some think kids are just wasting time on games, and sure, some do. But you can’t say they’re not learning. You may not like what they’re learning, or think they should be learning something else, but they’re definitely learning”, Kuehnl says. “Once you figure out what it is about the experience that keeps them coming back again and again, what motivates them to get better, you can teach them anything. They’ll absorb it better than they would in a three-ring binder or on a desktop .”

Between them, Mazza and Kuehnl boast an impressive gaming lineage, with both spending time designing and innovating with industry leaders such as EA Games, (Madden NFL series, FIFA series, NHL series, Command & Conquer series), THQ, (Destroy All Humans!, Red Faction), Zynga, (FarmVille, Words With Friends 2), Midway Games, (Galaga, Mortal Kombat series, NFL Blitz), and Take-Two Interactive (Rockstar, Grand Theft Auto, Max Payne, NBA series, Civilization, etc.)

They say that while they’re proud of their time in gaming, they recognize that the application for AAA-game-style graphics and engaging narratives goes well beyond entertainment, and in the form of advanced Virtual Reality Training, can help numerous industries dealing with a serious skilled labor shortage.

“Don’t get me wrong, we’re still gamers,” Mazza says, adding, “I guess you could just say we’re using our powers for good now. Everybody wants to make the world better. We think you make it better by making it smarter.”
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