Photo courtesy Pixabay.
It’s 2018 and VR/AR technology is more accessible than ever before. Virtual reality hardware giant HTC Vive is offering headsets at lower prices than ever, enabling companies to take advantage of new developments in the technology. VR is not a new concept, but, quite frankly, it’s never looked this good.
Currently, many retail businesses use the technology for marketing and advertising, and as a part of their e-commerce platforms, but a newer trend is to use VR/AR to train employees—particularly for dangerous jobs. As we look ahead to 2018, many industries will incorporate virtual reality into their training repertoire.
People who work with electricity, gas, and nuclear power have inherently dangerous jobs. Employees follow established protocols to remain safe during regular maintenance, but even a scheduled check can become dangerous and require the worker to react quickly to prevent the situation from escalating. Training in virtual reality enables workers to practice procedures and participate in modules that anticipate system failures, from the safety of an office.
The industry has begun to see the advantage in exposing construction professionals to jobsites in advance. Before iron workers climb twenty stories and step out onto a girder, they walk on a virtual one, feeling the sensation of height and dealing with other workers walking around them the way they do in real life—all from the ground. VR training will enable electricians to practice lock out/tag out procedures. Carpenters, roofers, and framers will perform fall protection exercises not on scaffolding, but in an office. Construction workers will be better prepared, making job sites safer.
Police officers and firefighters face new and dangerous situations every day. Without previous exposure, it’s difficult to know how they’ll react to stressful and hazardous situations. VR training enables them to feel the adrenaline rush of entering an active crime scene or a building fire without the potential danger. Repeated training allows muscle memory to kick in, so when a real crisis arises, emergency personnel’s reactions are second nature. The potential hazards of live training coupled with its expense and labor-intensive quality will motivate training managers to integrate more VR into their programs.
In 2018 and into the future, better and cheaper virtual reality hardware will help convince training managers to go all in on the technology. Less expensive headsets will inspire businesses to purchase a larger quantity, allowing more workers to train in VR at the same time. Higher frame rates make virtual reality users less likely to succumb to motion sickness, which will encourage increased adoption.
Until recently, training meant a bland room full of uncomfortable chairs, tiny desks, fluorescent lighting, and a trainer at the head of the class describing a series of power point slides. In 2018, Virtual reality’s realistic scenarios, heightened sensations, and exciting nature will create a more engaging atmosphere and even foster a sense of camaraderie and competition among trainees, making them better trained and safer. They might even look forward to it.