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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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Expert Insights, Virtual Reality, VR Training

A recent article published on Futurism.com declared, essentially, that virtual reality has finally become reality-reality: it’s here to stay. But the article was quick to point out that, despite the progress VR technology has made in recent years — better, more cost-effective hardware, streamlined user experience, radical advances in animation, etc. — one key problem has annoyingly persisted: nausea.

Motion sickness. Vertigo. Sea-sickness. Car-sickness. Butterflies. Queasiness — whatever you call it, we all hate it, and as a Virtual Reality Training company, it’s one of the most common questions we’re asked at conferences and expos: “will it make me sick?” While our answer to that question is a confident “No”, (more on that in a minute), not all VR companies can say the same, despite the evolution of our industry. 

The simple fact is: not all virtual reality is created equal.

So we thought it made some sense to briefly explore why some virtual reality experiences can cause motion sickness and why, in the three years we’ve been designing and engineering VR Training modules for enterprise, we’ve never seen or heard anyone complain of getting that awful, upset feeling.

How and Why Does Motion Sickness Happen?

Let’s start by understanding the phenomenon of motion sickness and nausea a little better from a scientific perspective.

Reason One: Battle Of The Senses

In a nutshell, the primary reason we feel motion sickness comes down to our ‘perception of reality’, so to speak.

Most of us are born with a central nervous system that helpfully provides us with five essential senses that allow us to move through physical reality with at least a basic idea of what the heck’s going on around us, (not counting what we experience while driving on the freeway, which is anyone’s guess). Those senses are: sight (vision), hearing (audition), taste (gustation), smell (olfaction), and touch (somatosensation).

When there’s “argument” between these five senses, our brain gets confused.

For instance, think of the sensation in the pit of your stomach one gets on an elevator. Though your body is in rapid motion on an elevator car, you, yourself, are not really moving. The effect it produces is typically slight, but definitely noticeable. (The same thing goes with car sickness while riding, or reading, in an automobile.)

Essentially, you’re experiencing a sensory mismatch and your brain — always gamely trying to make sense of the world it’s in — doesn’t like it.

There’s more complex science behind all this, of course, but at root, what we feel is a tug-of-war between groups of senses to determine “who’s right”: the vestibular inputs (concerned with balance and located in your inner ear), the visual inputs (associated with your eyes), or the kinaesthetic inputs (which assist in movement).

Reason Two: When Seeing Isn’t Believing

Beyond the issue of multiple senses battling it out to determine what’s real, there’s also a problem specific to our sense of vision, (and by extension, the brain’s ability to process images).

You see, in the real world, as the name suggests, things are more or less real. (We could nerd-out here about probability clouds and whatnot, or make the argument that our brains are the ultimate virtual reality machines, but for now let’s keep things simple and say boldly, Things Exist.)

When we walk to the store, or take a shower, or do anything at all, the things we’re seeing are really there, in what we consider physical reality. Our eyes may play tricks on us from time to time, but the persons, places, and things they observe occupy time and space and are mostly static and unchanging. They obey the laws of physics.

Not so in virtual reality.

In VR, the images we see have to be dynamically generated and refresh to reflect new simulated realities — constantly and incredibly rapidly.

Think of a flip-book: to create the illusion of motion, a large number of static images must rapidly pass by our eyes and convince our brain that the figures we see are moving and doing things. “Good” flipbooks have many more images, more precisely drawn, and thus appear more fluid and natural when flipped-through than “bad” flipbooks that have fewer images and produce hiccupy jumps — what we call ‘lag’ — in their attempts at motion.  

“Good” and “bad” virtual reality operates in a similar way.

How We Overcome VR Motion Sickness

PIXO VR has successfully fought motion sickness and greatly reduced any chance of it happening using two important methods.

Method One: A Frame Rate ‘Faster Than The Eye Can Think’

To combat the issue of lag, our Virtual Reality Training simulations have a refresh frame rate of 90 FPS (frames per second). That means every time you turn left or right, or look up or down, these individual, static images of the virtual world around you — the people, machines, birds, cars, etc. —are zooming by your eyes (and brain) at an almost entirely unnoticeable rate of 90 images per second, just like an ultra-fast, photo-realistic, digital flipbook.

By offering a superior, industry-best 90 FPS frame rate, we help put the brain at ease that the things it observes through the eyes are, (to the best of its ability to tell), really there.

Not all virtual reality runs and refreshes at this amazing pace, which is why some VR (not ours, but some), can make people feel physically ill.

Method Two: ‘Going Nowhere…Fast’

The second way we’ve conquered motion sickness is by addressing what we discussed earlier: the cognitive dissonance created in the brain when groups of senses compete to “explain” what’s happening to our physical bodies. While some amount of actual bodily motion is helpful and, indeed, necessary to explore and train in a fully immersive and interactive VR environment, too much motion can produce that feeling of nausea, as we’ve mentioned.

To avoid the jostling, brain-flummoxing disconnect between what our eyes see happening, and what our bodies feel happening, we use a technique we call “teleporting”.

Teleporting is a simple, elegant solution to the problem of moving — physically and virtually — through a simulated, photo-realistic world. Using your thumb to depress a button on our hand-held controllers, you simply point to your intended destination, your pathway is illuminated, and by the time you release the button — you’re there. No extra motion necessary; it can be done while sitting in a comfortable chair.

Teleporting helps in a couple of ways: first, by limiting the degree to which your brain and body feel differing sensations, and thus, greatly reducing the chances of motion sickness. Second, teleporting makes navigating a to-scale VR environment far simpler, easier, and quicker.

After all, if one were to attempt to physically explore a 20,000 square-foot photo-realistic VR workspace, it would, of course, require 20,000 square feet of empty space in the physical world, to say nothing of the requisite time needed to travel by foot from one end to the other, and so forth. If this were how VR worked, the time and space-saving advantages of Virtual Reality Training would be completely lost.

So, anyway, that’s how virtual reality can induce motion sickness — and two big reasons why PIXO VR experiences never have in the three years we’ve been pioneering Virtual Reality Training for enterprise clients.

Have you ever suffered motion sickness after using VR? We invite you to try ours and experience the difference.

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News, Virtual Reality, VR Training

The results are in – and the winner is virtual reality training.

According to a recent study by the University of Maryland, virtual reality training is more effective in recall accuracy than traditional desktop CBT (computer-based training). With a median recall accuracy percentage of 90.48 percent for immersive HMDs – head-mounted (virtual reality) displays – compared to desktop display’s 78.57 percent, the long-awaited study has further validated the efficacy of virtual reality training as a learning tool over traditional e-learning methods.

As the study’s abstract reads:

“Virtual reality displays, such as head-mounted displays (HMD), afford us a superior spatial awareness by leveraging our vestibular and proprioceptive senses, as compared to traditional desktop displays.”

The study’s findings are particularly important for employers in high-stakes verticals, where skills and safety training for workers represents a critical aspect of how those businesses function.

Put in the context of a standard grade scale, at 90+ percent recall, VR training would score in the A-range, while desktop computer training, at a shade below 79 percent, would be stuck back in the C’s.

When managing operations at a construction site, manufacturing plant, oil and gas pipeline, or other heavy industrial environment, a workforce recalling their training and performing their tasks consistently at an “A-level” would mean substantial gains in productivity, efficiency and, perhaps most critically, fewer mistakes that eat away at the bottom line or in worst-case scenarios, could even open the door for potential fines and litigation.

When talking about the ability of trainees and users to retain important information, it’s easy to see how these kind of numbers – an almost 12 percent improvement in median recall and an 8.8 percent improvement in overall recall accuracy – can make a sizable positive impact for enterprise users of VR training technology.

“This data is exciting in that it suggests that immersive environments could offer new pathways for improved outcomes in education and high-proficiency training”, said Amitabh Varshney, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland (UMD) and co-author of the study.

Beyond the findings, the UMD study itself is notable as data on the effectiveness of virtual reality training has been somewhat hard to come by, due to the newness of VR training, the number of variables involved in testing, and the difficulty in arranging for true “apples-to-apples” comparisons of the two learning methodologies, VR and CBT. But the research is finally catching up with the technology and the story it’s telling is a compelling one.

“By showing that virtual reality can help improve recall, it opens the door to further studies that look at the impact of VR-based training modules at all levels – from elementary school children learning astronomy to trauma residents acquiring the latest knowledge in lifesaving procedures,” Professor Varshney continued. “We believe the future of education and innovation will greatly benefit from the use of these new visual technologies.”

It won’t surprise you to learn that we at PIXO VR agree.

Thinking about how Virtual Reality Training could transform your business’ workforce? Reach out to us for a Free Consultation.

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Virtual Reality, VR Training

Training workers in the utility industry can be especially difficult.  Real-world training conditions are complex, dangerous, expensive and hard to simulate.


PIXO has responded to these challenges by developing industry-specific virtual reality modules that provide highly effective approaches for skill and safety training.  


Chicago-based Peoples Gas, for example, employs PIXO’s Gas Meter Safety Inspection VR training module to train field technicians and its 1,600 employees on the myriad range of meter types, installation configurations, and defects.  Trainees are quickly exposed to numerous different scenarios drawn from the millions of possibilities, without having to travel to separate locations and shadow more experienced workers for extended periods of time.


Trainees embark on a virtual route where they locate and report common and uncommon defects, in a lifelike 3D environment. The randomized scenarios provide a unique experience for each user, every time they train. Trainers gain unparalleled visibility of the training process, with access to user management, reporting, and analytics to monitor and measure trainees’ performance and progress over time.





The VR environment provides virtual on-the-job training as workers repeatedly practice responding to varying scenarios.  They use realistic diagnostic tools to check for mechanical defects and gas leaks, and they learn to file accurate and complete reports. The VR modules also train workers on emergency response, meter locating, corrosion activities and safety inspections.


The immersive and highly engaging VR environment can be as fun as a game, while at the same time provide a highly effective way to train workers to reliably perform their critically-important job of ensuring the safety of natural gas installations.

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VR Training

Skills training is far more effective when participants are actively engaged in the learning process. We know this intuitively from our own exper

ience: hands-on practice and collaborative exercises and other “active learning” techniques are far more stimulating than powerpoint slides and training manuals. And research has proven that such stimulation and engagement result in higher proficiency and longer knowledge retention.

Training professionals are using a spectrum of reality technologies to put these active learning principles into practice. Let’s take a look at three modalities that are employed in skills training — 360° Video, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality — to see how effectively they each engage participants.




360° Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then moving pictures are that much more engaging and informative. 360° video goes a step further by allowing the user to control the point of view of a prerecorded scene.

In the 360° video example shown here, police trainees can control the viewing angle as they learn how to perform a Pursuit Intervention Technique to safely stop a fleeing car.

360° video is limited as a training tool. The available experience remains the same every time. To make a change, the video needs to be re-recorded. And critically important for our purposes — the active learning experience of 360° video is constrained by the user’s inability to interact with the environment and encounter a response by the environment




Augmented Reality

AR is similar to 360° video in allowing observers to control the viewing angle, but AR does so in real time, as the viewer observes their actual physical surroundings. As the name indicates, augmented reality layers additional content to enrich the user’s perception of the real-world scene.

This additional content can appear on the surface, annotating real objects with relevant text or images. And AR can also allow users to visualize objects below the surface — like Superman’s x-ray vision. For example, in the video below, augmented reality reveals the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components hidden behind the walls and ceilings of a construction site.

Augmented reality offers an information-rich experience. Users can not only look up and down and all around as they can with 360° video, but AR also allows them to see more than what is visible on the surface and to follow what interests them in order to gain deeper understanding.

However, augmented reality, like 360° video, cannot fully engage users in active learning: the realism of the user viewing the actual physical world does not afford the dynamic interactive experience that makes virtual reality especially effective at multimodal learning.




Virtual Reality

Because it is not limited by the constraints of the physical world, virtual reality can deliver a more interactive learning experience than 360° video and AR. As a simulated environment, VR can often provide a more authentic training experience, with trainees encountering various random challenges, under differing lifelike conditions, as they would in actual work situations.

VR allows trainees to repeatedly practice skills to develop proficiency and confidence, thereby gaining the equivalent of on-the-job experience. And they can practice dangerous operations without risking safety or equipment.

Trainees develop proficiency by perceiving the situation, taking action and receiving immediate realistic feedback on the consequences of their actions. This process of learning by trial and error has been proven to result in better understanding and longer knowledge retention. Neuroscientists call this type of of active learning “the perception-action cycle.”  And let’s not overlook another important benefit of virtual reality: like gaming, it can be fun.  Trainees are cognitively engaged in an immersive experience, while interactively practicing skills.  They are motivated to concentrate their mental energies to gain proficiency and succeed at tasks.  That’s active learning at its best.


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