Getting Started with Virtual Reality for Training
December 14, 2016
Here at Unboxed, we believe that by creating new ways to educate and empower people, we can help organizations build the strong workforce they need to succeed. That’s why we’re exploring the cutting-edge world of virtual reality and testing virtual experiences learners will enjoy and remember for years to come.
What Is Virtual Reality?
As our senses are engaged with inputs (sight, sound, touch, etc.), we experience the world around us, “reality.” This reality dictates the way that we interact with our environment and the complex situations we encounter daily.
“Virtual” reality emulates those sensory inputs to create a computer-generated version of that reality.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
If you think virtual reality requires a big investment to get started, think again. With a variety of pricing options and experiences, the technology is more accessible and affordable than you might think.
Here are just a few examples.
Handheld devices allow users to experience virtual reality with a smartphone. Simply mount a device like Google Cardboard to your phone and peer into the virtual world. At around $15, it’s the most affordable way to get started with virtual reality.
Head Mounted Smartphone Devices
A head-mounted device (HMD) like the Homido goes one step further by mounting a device with your smartphone on your head for a more immersive experience than handheld. With the addition of head tracking and your peripheral vision removed, you’ll quickly find yourself “within” the virtual world, rather than “peering in.” Starting around $50, the cost to get started is still low.
Premium Computer-Connected Devices
These are the most premium virtual reality devices currently on the market. Beyond the head tracking included with the HMDs, these devices include motion tracking, controllers that mimic the hands in the virtual space, and in some cases, room-scale mapping, which lets you move freely in open spaces. For a computer powerful enough to run the applications, as well as the headset, motion tracking, and controllers, the initial buy-in jumps up to around $2,000.
Using Virtual Reality for Training
So, how can you use virtual reality for training? Since virtual reality allows users to interact with and process information in new ways, these (almost) real-life experiences, when tailored for your organizations, make it easier to deliver, retain, and recall information. Virtual reality adds a level of immersion and interactivity that gives businesses the opportunity to train their employees and customers like never before.
Virtual reality training is currently being used to educate professionals on sales, safety procedures, medical procedures, ethics, and much more. Even sports teams like the NCAA Stanford Cardinals are using virtual reality to train their freshman players on learning plays, reading the opposing team, and making quicker decisions when on the field.
Along with training, the growing list of applications include, but are not limited to architecture, healthcare, education, and entertainment. Companies like Jaguar and Audi also are releasing experiences where users can view the interior and exterior of newly developed concept cars.
What Are We Working On?
During our initial exploration of virtual reality, our team created a virtual retail world where the voice of a virtual coach guides the user through a customer interaction. This experience blazes a trail for organizations to rethink the way they train their employees–from opening a store to upselling accessories.
The virtual coach gives verbal instructions, provides words of encouragement as the user completes the given tasks, and offers additional direction if the user gets lost.
The user also has the ability to view training videos on a tablet in the virtual store. This allows the user to review information they may have learned in their initial training as a quick refresher.
Unboxed designer/developer/animator/all-around good guy Michael Laskaris used his background in game design and development to create this experience. During the creation process, Michael discovered that with a small team and the right resources, building virtual reality training experiences for our clients could be in our future sooner than we think. And let’s face it, when given the option, would you rather have another PowerPoint presentation, or would you prefer to give your learners a simulated experience that closely mimics their day-to-day?
Want to be part of that future with us? Leave a comment below, or contact us and let us know what VR experiences you’d like to see.