TechLearn 2019 Part Two: Exploring the Impact of Mixed Reality on Recruiting, Onboarding, and Training

We last shared our 5 Key Takeaways from the TechLearn 2019 Conference. Now we’re back with more!

From airlines to automotive to manufacturing to logistics, more and more enterprise organizations are realizing the benefits of Virtual and Augmented Reality technology when it comes to optimizing workforce performance. But what about the impact of mixed reality on recruiting, onboarding, and training?

Many organizations are acutely aware that it takes a lot of time and money to recruit and hire new employees. A recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management found that companies can spend upwards of $4,129 on hiring just one employee. Multiply this amount by the number of hires you make in a year, and you quickly see the financial impact this can have on your company — especially in the case of a bad hire. 

So, where does VR training fit in this conversation? This is the topic our co-founder, Dave Beck, explored at the TechLearn 2019 Conference panel discussion with Bobby Carlton from Ready Learner One, Jay Fraser from HP, and Maxime Ros from Revinax. Let’s take a look.

Recruiting 

The competition for quality talent in today’s job market is fierce. Companies that want to win the talent war must be both relevant and engaging. Incorporating VR as part of your talent acquisition strategy will help you accomplish this feat. Here’s why. 

Your future workforce is already socialized to the concept of experiential learning, with VR technology now a part of that stack. Pop into the nearest school, and you’ll see for yourself how VR is heavily leveraged to enhance today’s blended learning programs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education invested over $2.5 million to develop these programs in 2018. 

By the time this crop of new workers enters your organization, not only will they be extremely knowledgeable about VR training as a concept, but they will expect it. Additionally, if your organization is too slow to adopt and implement new technologies, prospective employees may be tempted to go elsewhere.

The benefits of VR training go beyond merely attracting the workforce of tomorrow. VR training can also lead to significant cost savings related to recruitment. For example, you can use VR to give prospective employees a preview of their new office and share first-hand what their new job may entail. This experience in VR allows them to “try on” the job before signing on the dotted line, leading to a win-win situation for both employee and employer.

From the employee side, they can easily walk away from the job with no hard feelings and focus their efforts on a role they want. Meanwhile, employers are protected from the experience of not realizing a positive ROI because of a bad hire. 

Onboarding 

What if there was a way to shorten the onboarding process from six weeks to two or three? Would you jump on board, or let the opportunity slip by you? With VR training, it’s possible.

For example, it usually takes Delta’s new hires 45-60 days to obtain their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) credentials to operate on the tarmac. That’s a lot of time spent on training that could have been used to boost the company’s bottom line. With the ramp operations training that we developed for Delta, new hires can now get out on the tarmac on the first day with VR.

One could even use VR to gauge the level of an employee’s proficiency with an assigned task. Because most head, eye, and body movements can be tracked in VR, you have access to an abundance of data. That data can be used to create tailored training programs to address any skills gaps quickly and efficiently. Through VR training, not only are you enhancing your onboarding processes, but you’re also increasing employee satisfaction. This has a direct impact on retention. 

New hires are 69% more likely to stay at an organization with a structured onboarding program. And it makes sense. It makes employees feel like a part of the team from day one, which increases employee morale and has a positive impact on overall employee wellness. 

Training 

In the past few years, VR technology has seen much success around training — and rightly so. Many enterprise organizations are rapidly adopting VR technology not only for training new employees, but also for capturing the tribal knowledge of seasoned workers.

During the panel discussion, Bobby Carlton shared how as baby boomers exit the workplace, they take with them a lot of expertise. VR tools are being used to help to capture their knowledge, which can then be used to train less experienced employees.

This is essential in an industry like manufacturing, where the current skills gap can easily be addressed with VR training. Not only has VR training been associated with elevated retention rates (approximately 80% when compared to 20% with traditional methods), but it also increases the speed to competency for many employees. 

VR training experiences allow employers to recreate scenarios that would be difficult to replicate in real life — like how to deal with an active shooter or a fire outbreak in the cockpit of a plane. It’s much easier to train in an environment where your mistakes don’t have real-life consequences. This reduces the pressure to perform and allows the trainee to better focus on mastery. 

While enterprise VR hardware is quite costly today, there is new hardware that is making it more affordable. For example, Jay Fraser from HP was showcasing their new Reverb VR headset. Our co-founder Dave Beck also urged the audience at TechLearn 2019 to consider the long-term value of the technology.

Investing in VR training should be approached strategically by organizations. Deciding on the right use case, delivering a pilot program, and devising the true ROI for your organization is critical for successfully adding VR to your training program. 


Interested in learning more about VR training? Check out how Delta Airlines is using this technology to improve employee safety. Read the Story

The Future of VR Training Technology: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2019 TechLearn Conference

Over the past few years, we have made a point to attend the Training Magazine’s TechLearn Conference. It’s an amazing event where learning & development professionals gather to acquire knowledge about the latest in learning research and training technologies that improve workplace performance.

As a VR tech evangelist, our Co-Founder Dave Beck at Foundry 45 was thrilled to sit on a panel with Bobby Carlton, Jay Fraser from HP, and Dr. Maxime Ros from Revinax to discuss Mixed Reality’s impact on Recruitment, Onboarding, and Training (more on that panel in an upcoming post!)

VR Training Panelists – Maxime Ros, Bobby Carlton, Dave Beck, and Jay Fraser

We also had a chance to meet and learn from some of the best in the L&D biz. Here are 5 key takeaways from this year’s TechLearn conference…

Takeaway #1 – VR Training Technology Helps Speed Learning and Skills Mastery.

VR training technology provides trainees with a hands-on experiential learning opportunity. Through this approach, people may practice and apply new skills, concepts, and problem-solving techniques in real-time.

Why is this so important? It all comes down to the science of how our brains not only learn but also retain information.

A hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus formulated the learning curve, which correlates the relationship between memory and time. The formula states that if your absorption rate is at 100% on day one, there is a 50-80% loss of learning from the second day onward.

By the end of a month, the retention rate drops to 2%.

This commonly occurs when people are required to sit through traditional training programs. Those programs force them to absorb large amounts of information in one sitting via 2D mediums such as videos and/or PowerPoint presentations — and all in single session.

However, when people train in a VR setting, retention rates and the speed at which they learn skyrocket. Why? Because trainees are able to physically perform tasks and learn from mistakes while mastering new skillsets in real-time. Employees don’t have to be embarrassed about asking too many questions or making mistakes. They can keep practicing until they feel 100% comfortable with the task or material.

Takeaway #2 – Four-Dimensional Training Provides a Clear and Actionable Framework for Learning.

In today’s working educational environment, one-size-fits-all curriculums are not effective or beneficial.

Companies want flexibility within their training environments. Even more importantly, organizations need the ability to easily and quickly shift their training programs to accommodate new technology, equipment, job locations, and more.

Jay Fraser, HP, discussing how Foundry 45 is using VR training for Delta Airlines

For example, airports across the country are laid out differently. Even though ground crew operations may be the same in multiple locations, the physical setup in each location may require training specific to unique airport environments.

With VR training technology,  training simulations can be set up to mimic the exact space in which your employees will perform their tasks and can account for any obstacles (or environmental factors like weather, lighting conditions, etc.) that might differ from location to location.

It’s this type of four-dimensional education system that provides the framework for adaptable learning in the 21st century.

Image: Brandon Carson, Delta Airlines – Radical L&D: Reimagining Corporate Learning in the Digital Age

Takeaway #3 – Your Future Employees Are Already Learning Via VR Today.

If you walk into a school today, you’ll notice teachers are beginning to branch out from textbooks and are using more advanced technologies, such as VR and AR in their classrooms.

It’s no surprise that school systems are adopting VR technology as it’s helping educate students in a new way that promotes greater rates of information retention. It’s also highly effective in accommodating different types of learners. 

Image: Brandon Carson, Delta Airlines – http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2018.pdf

The students who are using this technology are your future employees.

If your company doesn’t stay up to date with the latest training technology, these new hires are more likely to pass up your organization. Other companies that have integrated, cutting edge, and adaptive learning styles as part of their training programs may be more desirable.

Takeaway #4 – VR training technology provides a safe environment where employees can learn to manage dangerous, real-world situations.

In real life, it’s often not practical or safe to send trainees into dangerous situations. However, part of learning how to do a job can sometimes entail putting an employee into an unsafe situation.

For example, airline pilots and flight attendants need to be trained to handle dangerous situations such as a cockpit fire. How does that work?

Trainees could go through a PowerPoint presentation of best practices in the event of an emergency. Or, they could perhaps experience an actual fire in a cockpit simulator that would offer hands-on experience. The former isn’t very compelling, and the latter isn’t safe or fiscally viable.

With virtual reality, learners can be “thrown into the fire” without any real-life consequences. This type of experiential learning provides the opportunity for employees to physically experience an emergency situation without any actual risk of injury. 

Takeaway #5 – VR + Winning = Fun!

In a conference environment, some people sit on the sidelines, happy to absorb all the great content. Others jump right in to the action!

Destery Hildenbrand, Sr. is the type to jump right in. This Instructional Designer at GP Strategies Corporation tried the Delta Airlines experience our team was showcasing. He also dropped his business card in bowl for a chance to win a brand new VR headset. At the end of the event, we selected his card in the drawing! This was one of the highlights of TechLearn 2019 for our team what was yours? 

Attending the TechLearn 2019 conference was a great experience. It confirmed the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends, and it also provided a better understanding of how many companies are currently utilizing VR/AR in their training programs. If your organization is looking to discover more about how VR training technology will benefit your new hires or current employees, we encourage you to get in touch with us today!

Why Businesses Need Virtual Reality Training


Businesses in every industry benefit from having their employees participate in specialized training programs. After all, prepared employees are valuable assets and experiential learning through virtual reality training can develop those assets like nothing else can.

So, what exactly IS experiential learning?

Experiential learning is learning by doing: instead of reading a book or watching a video, trainees step into the workplace and start practicing their actual work. Actively training like this has huge benefits, and it is also safer and cheaper than older methods.

HOW VR IS REVOLUTIONIZING TRAINING

    • VR training lets trainees not only see a thing, but actually do it: Employees learn from experience without being exposed to danger
    • VR training cuts costs: A 2015 USMC study found that virtual simulation resulted in net cost avoidance almost 3 times greater than the cost to implement the virtual simulation system
  • VR is more fun and immersive than normal video: Participants who watched a 360° video of a motorcycle ride could remember the video better than those who watched a standard video of the same ride

TOTAL RECALL

What’s the point of training if an employee doesn’t retain the information? Research has shown that experiential learning can increase retention by 75-90%. VR can turn any type of training into an experience, from physical activity to understanding a company’s culture and products.

Keeping employees emotionally engaged and immersed in their training program keeps valuable information in their heads for longer periods of time. A joint YuMe/Nielsen study, using neuroscience technology, found that emotional engagement in VR experiences increased 27% over traditional 2D video.

ALL REWARD, NO RISK

If your employees handle hazardous materials or work with heavy machinery, their training can benefit from VR. These jobs are often taught outside the classroom, with hands-on exercises that use real-world machinery or mock-ups of the actual workplace.

train-vr-spray-paint

VR Training lets users practice without damaging real assets

Virtual reality can eliminate the need to house expensive equipment just for training purposes. A simulated environment also can’t break and does not wear down over time.

Industrial VR experiences can reduce the risk of accidents to employees during training. Since the environments are completely digital, the training session can be paused by simply removing the headset, and restarted again without any delay to the training program.

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

“The enterprise VR training market will generate $216 million in 2018 and grow to $6.3 billion in 2022”.

Large organizations have realized the value of immersive training for several years. The mid-market sector is finally catching up by increasing investment. VR training lets companies develop employees in virtual environments, which has led to a decrease in hard-line associated expenses such as travel costs, equipment downtime, and employee productivity.

Savings on physical training equipment and printed materials are just the beginning of the cost reduction potential of VR training. Because VR increases engagement and information retention, training can also be done faster, resulting in the 33% cost reduction mentioned above.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Every business is unique, and no matter how experienced a new employee is, they need quality training specific to their new employer. Training may be a new hire’s first experience with a company, so it is an important tool for establishing a level of competency and trust. Virtual reality is moving from cutting-edge to commonplace, and innovative companies are using it to build a better workforce.

The Real Difference Between VR Training & VR Education


In today’s business environment, employee development is more important than ever, and Virtual Reality (VR) has become a powerful tool for training and educating employees. The terms “VR Training” and “VR Education” are similar and are often used interchangeably. There is certainly some overlap, but they are not the same thing.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

VR Training focuses on more of the “What.” What specific task needs to be accomplished? Oftentimes, these are hard skills, like how to repair a piece of assembly line equipment.

VR Education is more focused on the “Why.” Why is a general concept important? This type of learning is more foundational and soft skills-focused, often in areas like leadership development.

A Quick Comparison

VR Training:

    • Teaches a specific task
    • Can be separated into steps
    • Does not vary between employees of the same position
  • Is administered short-term

VR Education:

    • Teaches abstract and critical thinking skills
    • Does not rely on specific knowledge
    • May require different approaches for each employee
  • Requires a long-term commitment

vr education

Mobile VR is perfect for employee learning in many environments

VR TRAINING: SIMULATION STIMULATES SKILLS

More and more industries are using computer simulation to train their workforce. We’ve already detailed how top retailers use VR to train employees in a previous blog post, but industrial markets are well-suited for VR training as well.

Foundry 45’s pump trainer simulation illustrates how an employee is trained on specific, chronological tasks to properly disassemble and reassemble a pump. By following a clear sequence of directions in an immersive space, employees can familiarize themselves with the equipment without potentially harming themselves or damaging equipment.

training-vr-no-risk

Users benefit from VR Training without the risks involved with training in the field

VR EDUCATION: LEARNING TO THINK

To enhance corporate culture, increase worker productivity, and establish the best social and ethical business practices, more global organizations are turning to VR to better prepare employees for a range of training practices.

Today’s research suggests that the environment in which we learn greatly affects the impact of our education. Immersive 360 videos and VR experiences allow training managers to tailor educational experiences to their exact organizational needs. These experiences can then be reproduced for scores of employees.

Foundry 45’s The Weather Company experience is a great example of this. The first half of the experience is an educational overview of the most important aspects of The Weather Channel’s new mobile app. The second half is a gamified element that makes the learning stick. Employees leave the experience ready to explain the app’s updates to anyone outside the team.

vr-education-mobile-app

VR Education explains The Weather Company’s new mobile app

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s no surprise that employees at every level can benefit from training to better perform their duties, and from education to develop a common mindset throughout an organization. It’s now up to innovative companies to use new technology like VR to help provide team members with the skills they need to grow.

Learning Gets A Dose Of Reality

(As Appeared in Training Magazine)

Virtual and augmented reality technology has the unmatched ability to simulate the work challenges you are training employees to handle. The question is how to decide which technologies are right for your learners, and how to roll the programs out to them.


Training employees to manage challenging work situations, in which the satisfaction or safety of employees or customers or the financial wellbeing of the company is at stake, is tough. You need to give your workforce a realistic sense of the challenges they will confront, but also need to do so in a safe environment.

Games and simulations have been used for years to accomplish this, but now with more advanced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, companies have an enhanced ability to mirror real-life conditions in a safe environment. For Learning and Development (L&D) professionals, the key is figuring out when it makes sense to use these high-tech solutions and how to integrate them into a larger learning program.

RICH LEARNING EXPERIENCES

Virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

Virtual and augmented reality technology may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but it increasingly is becoming the norm, says Harpreet Singh, Ph.D., founder of Expercoin at the Harvard Innovation Launch Lab. “As we build courseware at Expercoin and Experfy in Harvard Innovation Lab, we have Fortune 500 companies demanding richer learning experiences that leverage these emerging technologies,” he says. “The technology has equal application for a plumber who is learning to replace a water boiler and a robotics engineer building the next-generation spaceship to colonize Mars.”

Indeed, according to a recent report from Tractica, the worldwide market for enterprise virtual reality hardware and software will increase from $1 billion in 2018 to $12.6 billion annually by 2025. The market intelligence firm anticipates the top applications for enterprise virtual reality technology will include training and simulation, medical therapy, location-based entertainment, and education.

REALISTIC AND ON-DEMAND

Not only can virtual and augmented reality transport learners realistically into the situations they will have to manage, but help is provided at the moment it is needed most. Verizon currently is working on several augmented and virtual reality initiatives to enhance both classroom training and moment-of-need training for performance support, according to Senior Manager of Learning Technology Fraser Bowie, Associate Director of Learning Technology Riaz Uddin, and Director of Global Learning Technology Pete Beck. “These solutions are scheduled to launch in the next few months. Our approach is to implement solutions that provide a more robust learning experience that is effective and sustainable, not just a solution that uses the newest, coolest technology. Through augmented and virtual reality, we are able to provide our employees with a learning environment that immerses them in the learning content and/or provides just-in-time support on the job.”

For example, the first new Verizon augmented reality program uses in-store collateral materials as marker images to trigger microlearning on company-owned retail employee phones. Applying the technology this way uses the time between customer appointments to deliver learning. This increases both employee product knowledge and time on the sales floor.

The second Verizon program using this technology deploys augmented reality glasses to field technicians, providing them the ability to access the information they need hands-free and at the moment of need. “We will not only be delivering performance support, but also the ability to do video calling with an expert at our technician centers when additional help is needed,” note Bowie, Uddin, and Beck. “With each of these new programs, our goal is to not only improve product knowledge and overall performance but gauge employees’ reactions to the new training approach and its efficacy.”

Each of Verizon’s pilots have ROI associated with it, the Learning professionals say. “We already have some key elements we’re looking to measure for each of our pilots, but we also know we will uncover some new metrics after conducting the trials.” Here are some examples of what Verizon is looking to measure:

In AR in-store training, Verizon is looking at time off the sales floor and how avoiding that could increase productivity. Or perhaps just go after “free” time instead of scheduled training time. “We also expect to see an increase in product knowledge resulting in better sales,” said Bowie, Uddin, and Beck. “This solution has the lowest cost of entry, so proving a positive ROI could be easier.”

For Verizon’s AR glasses experience, the company is looking at increased productivity, perhaps getting more done in a shorter time or increasing jobs completed. “We also are looking at reducing errors and avoiding a second field deployment of our resources,” the Learning professionals say. “Being the most expensive deployment, given the cost of hardware and software, it is crucial we measure both hard and soft costs to understand the ROI.”

The VR experience is perhaps the hardest ROI to identify, Bowie, Uddin, and Beck admits. “Our goal is to create the muscle memory in our employees but hope they never need to use it. Though not cheap, the value of having employees prepared for a potentially threatening situation is well worth the investment. We will track our employee satisfaction and level of confidence in their preparedness. We are likely not going to be able to track any initial monetary value for this particular training; however, the safety of our employees is a far greater investment.”

AID LEARNING RETENTION AND IMPACT

With the ability for powerful simulations and immersion comes the chance to make learning count even more. Visa uses virtual and augmented reality in multiple ways, notes Senior Director, Visa University Shelley Henson. “First is to support our employees’ retention of key concepts taught in our signature Payments Everywhere Certification,” she says. The VR program the company uses for this purpose provides foundational knowledge about how the players in the payments industry interact. The company uses a connected virtual reality group game to reinforce these concepts. “We currently have one game developed and plan to add new games using a similar platform for other programs. We also have several other brand-related virtual and augmented reality experiences that are used to help communicate the spirit of our brand,” Henson says.

For instance, Visa sponsors the Olympics and created a Google Cardboard (https://vr.google.com/cardboard/) experience that Henson says helped to generate excitement about the Sochi Winter Olympics. “We plan to leverage these types of experiences to help new hires around the globe get a sense of our brand. We will continue to invest in these technologies when the experience will support learning and business objectives,” she says.

Henson notes the technology is deployed in a way that connects learners with each other, which also helps to make the lessons more powerful. “We optimize the technology by turning what are traditionally solo experiences (one person in a headset) into group learning experiences,” she says. “Our learning experiences always connect with other mobile devices or with the participants in the room. This allows us to draw on the pedagogical advantages of not only the virtual/ augmented reality but also of collaborative group work. As a result, experiences are richer and more meaningful, they connect our learners, and they are a ton of fun!”

Experiential learning is extremely powerful, and that’s why VR and AR training and education are so popular, believes Dave Beck, managing partner at Foundry 45, an immersive technology company that specializes in creating VR training experiences for enterprise clients. “If you think about it, do you learn more by reading a book about something or by actually doing it? For me, it’s definitely the latter,” says Beck. “Overall, experiential VR training is one of the most effective ways to learn, increasing retention by 75 to 90 percent.”

INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY AND DECREASING COST

Before you make the leap into investment and use of virtual and augmented technology, it’s important to pause and map out a plan. ADP, for example, is thinking strategically about how the technology can be used to achieve its goals. “ADP is not using augmented and virtual reality currently, but we have done research into the technology. Within the corporate learning space, we recognize that augmented and virtual reality have vast potential as methods for teaching associates new skills through embedded photos, videos, audio, and learning experiences that are tactile and fully interactive,” says Matt Pellarin, director of Learning Innovation for Enterprise Learning at ADP. “Regarding augmented reality, the technology readiness level for the training use case is one of the most mature, and as such, we are planning to invest in this technology through a work instructions proof of concept, and possibly through remote expert telepresence.”

ADP is assessing all it has to gain from the use of the technology. “Augmented and virtual reality give us the ability to manipulate functional space in a way that ultimately should result in increased productivity and a reduction in costs. In the case of a work instructions training app, we would have the ability to train associates and clients on our hardware products with just-in-time, step-by-step directions, or remotely troubleshoot hardware issues with the assistance of a real-time augmented overlay,” Pellarin says.

The company is careful to consider the return on investment it is likely to achieve. “For ADP, a large portion of our training is based on our software products, and as such, the use case for augmented and virtual reality is much less defined. We have the ability on our machines to augment the view of the learner through performance support and software overlays, so the main challenge is to leverage this technology in a broad enough capacity to generate a return on the often-steep investment,” Pellarin says.

Understanding and capitalizing on the intended use of the technology is critical to ensure authentic learning needs are met, he notes. “For example, augmented reality is most effective when a learner is required to perform a task on a physical object, whereby training is directly overlaid on an object in the learner’s physical space. Keeping considerations such as this in mind will ensure that training provides an efficient and practical way to perform and assess newly acquired skills.”

You also want to assess whether you have the in-house talent to develop a strong virtual or augmented reality program, or whether the development would need to be outsourced. Phil Cowcill, a senior e-learning specialist and contractor working with a department in the Canadian government, says he currently is exploring how he might use the technology. “I’m looking to use augmented reality within our courses to provide additional information on course content. As an example, we can’t access YouTube within our building. However, using augmented reality, we can provide additional material, including YouTube videos, on learners’ phones,” he explains, noting, however, that there are hurdles that will need to be overcome before the technology can be implemented.

“The challenge is getting the time to build and incorporate it,” he says. “Also, there is a talent issue. Right now, I’m the only one in our department who can develop or create augmented reality. To get more flexibility, we need to look at getting away from using third-party software and start developing our own native apps. That will be a while in coming.”

QUICK TIPS

  • Use virtual and augmented reality technology to provide just-in-time support to employees. They can even use it as a learning boost between customer appointments on the sales floor, for example.
  • Connect other learners to one another with an immersive game that makes the lessons you deliver a collaborative experience.
  • Enhance your learning and company brand. When employees experience virtual and/or augmented reality in your learning program, their perception of the company changes. They will see a forward-thinking company they want to spend a long career with.
  • Create detailed strategic plans. You want to be sure you know specifically how rolling out the technology to your learners will work, and what resources are required.
  • Plan how the use of the technology will be coupled with real-world activities, such as practicing a skill learned virtually by working with a physical object.
  • Determine if you have the resources in-house or whether you will have to outsource development of virtual or augmented reality programs. If outsourced, what support will the outsource partner require to help you meet your goals?

4 Keys to Developing a Successful VR Training Program

By Dave Beck, Managing Partner, Foundry 45

Virtual reality (VR) technology can completely change the way you engage and train employees across your company. While it’s not difficult to create a VR training experience, if you’ve never worked in the medium before, there are a few things you should consider to ensure your experience is both engaging AND effective. Here are four things to consider when developing a VR training program based on what we’ve learned from creating more than 150 unique VR experiences at Foundry 45:

1. Develop a business brief. Having a concise document that outlines key objectives for your training experience is essential—both for internal buy-in and to communicate budget, audience requirements, goals, and objectives to external partners. It should include the basics such as:

  1. Who are you training? Different age brackets have different needs.
  2. What are the objectives? Understanding and prioritizing your training curriculum is vital and can save you time and money.
  3. How are you integrating the VR experience with other training tools? Consider how to include your learning management system (LMS), videos, paper-based testing, etc.
  4. What are your success metrics? Have an actionable goal and identify ways in which you want to track success with this training program.

2. Consult with an expert. There are numerous technology experts who can guide you through your training journey. Make sure you find one who has experience taking complex training concepts and building them into an intuitive VR training interface.

3. What’s your budget? The costs of developing immersive experiences can be on par with developing other training initiatives, but because many companies haven’t used VR for training, additional attention often is focused on the budget. Setting financial expectations early on is important in order to match expectations and properly communicate ROI. Taking a phased approach to integrating VR into your training program also may be an option.

4. What’s your timeline? Timelines can drastically affect the budget of a VR project. Make sure you set realistic timelines for everything from the concept and planning stage through to development and implementation. Finally, launching your new VR training program across your organization will be important. Make sure to give yourself and other teams enough time to raise awareness and build excitement.

HTC Vive Pro Review: A Great Upgrade for Enterprise


While a bit pricey ($1400 system + $200 enterprise license), the Vive Pro is worth every penny for enterprise training and marketing applications.

We finally got a chance to put the new HTC Vive Pro through it’s paces. This is a quick review of our first impressions, primarily as it applies to using Vive Pro for VR training and event marketing.

Easier Multi-System Setup

The most exciting new Vive Pro feature is it’s ability to use more than 2 base stations for tracking. While interesting for tracking larger areas, it also allows units to be setup next to each other without interference.

Our clients often use multiple VR stations at events to accommodate larger crowds. Doing so typically requires curtains or other barriers to prevent interference (see the central column below). Since the Vive Pro now works with 4 base stations, and support for up to 16 coming, we can now put base stations in the corners of a larger area (30+ sq ft) and run more than one VR station within the tracked region.

Vive Trade Show

Dual Original Vive Trade Show Setup Requires Barrier to Provide Separation

Room for Bigger Glasses, Hair, and Heads

The majority of glass wearers can use the Vive standard with their glasses off. Otherwise, if they need their glasses during Vive usage, many people’s glasses can fit within the headset. There are some, however, whose glasses are just too fashionable to be contained by the Vive standard headset. This adds a layer of complication when trying to get people in and out of the headset efficiently.

With almost 2cm more width in the headset, the vast majority of glasses should fit into the new headset. Similarly, the headphones are on a bigger swing arm, allowing them to fit better over bigger heads and hair. While the original Vive worked well for 90% of people at events, the Vive Pro should reach close to 100%. An easily used adjustment on the bottom also means focus can be tweaked per person. The older Vive’s adjustment was simply too cumbersome and time consuming to use for everyone at an event.

Vive Pro Spacious Design

Comparison of headset space between original Vive and Vive Pro

Higher Resolution Allows for Clearer Text

Text looks more clear, and this extra clarity will enable the use of smaller visual labels. This should allow more detail and more data rich UI interfaces as compared to the original Vive. 

Vive Pro Resolution

The Vive Pro packs a punch with 615 pixels per inch

Augmented Reality Potential

While we haven’t played much with the camera, the newly added dual cameras enable the system to sense depth and turn the headset into a more serious Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality platform. We’ll write a separate blog post once we’ve had a chance to test this unit out with one of our AR applications. We are especially interested to see whether the latency is low enough to allow usage of the Vive Pro as an AR headset.

Vive Pro Lenses

New lenses on the Vive Pro allow for AR application

Improved Wiring Harness and Buttons

A minor, but very appreciated, change is the single connector coming from the headset cable to the link box instead of 3 separate plugs. The old power cable in particular had a habit of pulling out. Also, on-ear buttons make volume adjustments simpler and more intuitive.

Vive Pro Link Box

The Vive Pro’s revamped link box

Con: Price

The Vive Pro is the VR headset that consumers deserve but can’t afford. For $1400 and a $200 enterprise license, the headset is substantially more expensive than other consumer VR systems. However, for VR training and VR event activations, the Vive Pro enhancements are worth every penny.

Con: Cleanability

The foam facemask is comfortable, but a bit of a sponge for sweat and makeup that’s also hard to clean. To be fair, this is a problem with the original Vive as well. However, we have happily swapped all the foam for faux-leather replacements that are easy to wipe down between users without absorbing moisture. Until similar products are available for the Vive Pro, this will continue to be a negative for public use.

Vive Face Pad

The Pro’s face pad is plenty comfortable but difficult to clean

 Conclusion

The Vive Pro’s more flexible setup options will be game-changing for business VR applications. Its enhanced comfort and wearability will be appreciated greatly by users at trade shows, sales demos, and any other events. Overall, for those who have the capital to invest in the Vive Pro, it is well worth the higher price. The unit could prove to be even more useful as we explore its AR capabilities.

The Real Excitement Behind VR in Ready Player One

Recently, millions of people flocked to see one of their favorite books translated on the big screen. While the movie version of Ready Player One deviated from Ernest Cline’s original novel, the film definitively conveyed an optimistic vision for ultimate immersion with Virtual Reality. After watching the film, most will agree, VR has an endless list of applications in entertainment. However, those who read the original book may be more excited about the applications of VR for Training and Education.

 

VR Tut Tomb

King Tut’s Tomb in VR

“Teachers could take their students on a virtual reality field trip every day.”

In the novel, Wade Watts attends a virtual school where the possibilities are endless. Whether it be King Tut’s tomb in World History or the inside of a heart in Biology, he can learn anywhere at any time. Cline’s vision for the future of VR is actually taking place today. Virtual Reality for training and education are two growing industries with lots of promise. Like students in Ready Player One, people are beginning to recognize the appeal of learning in VR.

 

VR for Training and Education

Experiential Learning in VR

The Science Behind VR Training

A study conducted in 2002 used Virtual Reality to train medical students in the Operation Room. They found that gallbladder dissection was 29% faster for VR-trained residents. Non-VR-trained residents were nine times more likely to fail to make progress and five times more likely to injure the gallbladder or burn non-target tissue.

A similar study sought to investigate the efficiency of VR driving simulators. They concluded that VR driving simulations “offer the ability to modify driving scenarios at any time and expose drivers to dangerous situations in a methodical manner.” Overall, as VR’s learning advantages become more quantified, companies are increasing their use of VR for training and education.

 

VR Pump Training

Foundry 45’s VR Industrial Pump Training

A Rapidly Growing Industry

As of 2018, UPS, KFC, and the LAPD are all using Virtual Reality to train employees. This may be because VR for training in the industrial process space has shown 33% cost savings. Additionally, in 2015 the global training industry grew from $322 billion to $355 billion. It’s evident that virtual reality has numerous applications in training and employee education and will most likely continue to expand into that market as it saves money and time through more efficient training. Overall, as overhead costs for VR training decline, more and more companies will seek to streamline their training practices with VR.

 VR-Training-Statistic

 

Thankfully we are not stuck in the Stacks like the protagonist of Ready Player One. Instead, we are headed towards some of the optimistic effects of Virtual Reality tech. As more Fortune 500 companies adopt VR into their training process, we are well on the way to a reality with VR education and training.

VR Training Highlights From the 2018 Innovations in Training Conference

VR Training Loomed Large at this Year’s 2018 Training Conference and Expo


This years Training Conference and Expo took place at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta where hundreds gathered from all over the world to see what new and innovative technology will transform the training industry in 2018. The Foundry 45 team supported the conference by sponsoring the full-day exhibition at the Congress Center and its “Innovations in Training” event, where VR Training was a large part of the agenda this year.

Similar to the Expo the day before, the full-day “Innovations in Training” field trip took guests to several large Atlanta-based corporations that are already using VR and other forms of technology in their training curriculum. We visited the corporate offices of UPS and Delta where we had the opportunity to dive into their training programs and simulation experiences. Hosted by Southface, an Atlanta-based organization focused on environmental conservation and sustainability, the conference came to a close with an educational wine tasting, dinner and more VR experiences from the Foundry 45 team.

vr training event

The Green Roof on the top of Southface’s sustainability building

One interesting business we saw at the Expo was Tobii Pro, a company specializing in Eye-Tracking technology for use in PC gaming, interface functionality, and data collection. The company’s eye tracking technology may be implemented into standard computers, third party devices, and even wearable technologies. We had the chance to check out their demonstration where they displayed a heat map drawn from eye tracking in a VR environment.

Tobii Pro shows off eye tracking with heat maps

Further into the Innovations in Training sessions, we learned about UPS and how they are leveraging the power of VR Training to educate drivers on minimizing accidents. Drivers are immersed in a training experience for 3-6 minutes at a time, as they identify potential hazards and learn the awareness skills that are crucial for the job. This replicated VR experience makes training cheaper and allows trainees to make mistakes and learn from them in a virtual environment as opposed to on the road. UPS has stated they plan on expanding towards even more immersive training for the company in the future.

In addition, we explored Delta’s advanced training methods including full flight simulators, procedural simulators, motion based simulators and more! We met with representatives of Delta to discuss how they invest their training innovation dollars, what makes for a great training simulation, and how VR Training can be used to improve results.

The Foundry 45 team testing one of Delta’s training simulators

The training conference was a wonderful way to congregate with professionals within various industries to discuss the future of VR Training. After several days of speaking with attendees from across many different industries, it is undeniable that  “learning immersion” is the focal point when it comes to corporate training and as VR technology keeps improving, it will only solidify its place as a budget-friendly method for spatial captivation and procedural employee training.

Enthralled user demoing Foundry 45 VR experiences


ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

 

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. The company creates immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for several platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses build VR tools for training, sales & marketing, and recruiting efforts. Foundry 45 also partners with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and development partner.

 

To learn more about Foundry 45, please visit www.foundry45.com.

Foundry 45 Holiday Party at CMII

Foundry 45 hosted its first annual holiday party on Tuesday, December 12th! Thanks to everyone who joined us for drinks, music, and to celebrate our office move to the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) in Downtown Atlanta. Y’all made this a truly special event!

The festivities took place on CMII’s top-level floor, a beautifully laid-out space for getting together and mingling. It also provides access to an outside patio area, and despite the cold temperature, our guests had the opportunity to enjoy the Atlanta skyline at night…including augmented reality, HoloLens enhancements.

VR Experience | Foundry 45

Our Foundry 45 team further sweetened the experience for our guests last night not only with a fully stacked bar and buffet, but also by giving people the unique opportunity to get some firsthand VR experience. We set up one of our VR training programs as well as an interactive, VR enabled snowball fighting game.

Below we’ve compiled some additional impressions from last night’s event.

Foundry 45 Holiday Party

Foundry 45 Holiday Party

Foundry 45 Holiday Party CMII

A big shoutout also to CMII and Georgia State staff who’ve been very supportive of our partnership and the planning of this very special event for us! Our entire team looks forward to an exciting and successful future at CMII!

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com.

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