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Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality Employee Training

augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality

Updated November 15th, 2023

Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality Training Landscape

The use of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality to train the workforce has gained significant traction, as the importance of these technologies has increased within the marketplace. In the early 2010’s the technology was expensive and unstable for most business use. However, with continued development, new iterations of headsets, as well as AR-enabled devices – this technology is now more accessible to businesses and their customers.

Companies have realized that AR, VR and MR are exceptionally suited for employee training programs and are achieving significant returns on investment in those areas. Going forward we will discuss the differences between Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality, as well as how training differs in each of these mediums.

Differences between Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR) superimposes information such as images, video, text, and animations onto a user’s field of view, “augmenting” their real-world environment. AR is an interactive medium that prioritizes providing informational context for the user’s environment. One of the benefits of AR as a medium is that there are a diverse number of devices that can utilize the technology – ranging from headsets to smart devices, like phones and tablets. Additionally, these supported devices represent a large portion of the currently available operating systems such as iOS, Android, and Windows.

children using tablets and smartphone to look at augmented reality planets

Virtual Reality (VR)

man wearing oculus vr headset

Virtual Reality (VR) teleports its users into a completely virtual world with immersive headsets. VR technology does not have the ability to see or interact with real world surroundings. To realize the full experience, VR headsets often require additional accessories like controllers, gloves, shoes, cameras, etc. to provide finer, more nuanced control and interactions.

Mixed Reality (MR)

Mixed Reality uses data from the real-world environment and computer-generated elements to blend the real and virtual worlds together. Mixed Reality put more simply, is like AR but understands and reacts to the real-world environment. For example, while an AR application will be able to place a ball on a table, a ball in an MR application will roll off an uneven table and bounce on the floor.

team of people collaborating on HoloLens 2 using mixed reality

Training Example Comparison

Training requirements are unique, therefore not all technologies are a good fit for each scenario. Let’s take a look at how AR, VR and MR engage users and some examples of best suited use cases for each technology.
Virtual Reality (VR)Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR)
ImmersionCompleteLow-Medium
InteractionHighMed/High
Environment TypeCompletely Virtual1Real world with virtual overlays
Accessories RequiredPC2, Headset, ControllersAR: Handheld devices (smartphones/tablets) AR/MR: Headset3
Excels inCompletely immersive environment where all acpects of the user experience is controlled. Experimental learning, entertainment, gamingLow barrier to entry, simple and quick experiences, information layering, step by step instruction, guides/navigation, user engagement. Can be heads up and hands-free depending on the device.
Use CasePOV training, complete simulation for safety training, step by step guidesTechnical support calls, troubleshooting, remote meetings, job site inspection, step by step guides. Advanced spatial awareness and anchoring

1. Requires a physical, empty boundary area in the real world for safety
2. Not all headsets require a PC
3. Some MR headsets require controllers, and battery packs or CPU/GPU packs

Most use cases refer to training used in the following scenarios:

Safety training – when using true environmental conditions are too dangerous to interact with, especially for a beginner trainee

Practice training – when running a simulation over and over again is required to perfect a technique or process. Simulation can easily be replicated as opposed to resetting physical training environments.

Situational Role Playing – trainees can be placed in many different situations, both socially and environmentally by using avatars for interaction

Maintenance – staff is able to service and fix equipment using visual guides with step by step instructions, no paper manuals required

Remote Guidance – on the job training, staff is guided in real-time by subject matter experts to perform a live task

When to use VR for Training

VR Training is best suited when a completely simulated environment is required. This training can include animations, environmental context, instructions and include interactive elements. However, the interactive elements within a VR simulation do not affect the user’s real-world environment, only the virtual world. These trainings are oriented to be educational rather than hands-on. This scenario would include the use of a VR headset. Additionally, this scenario includes the use of controllers and a designated VR use space.

Patient in virtual reality goggles

The best use cases for this type of training include:

Safety training: Fire and Rescue, construction, military
Practice training: Medical, rescue
Situational Role Playing: HR, Police, Military, Fire and Rescue

When to use AR for Training

doctor wearing hololens 2 -

An AR training course would use an AR enabled headset or glasses, tablet or mobile device to overlay instructions in the trainee’s real-world environment. This can be done with text, video, audio, or images and in conjunction with real-world props. A typical AR training would include physical props or equipment as well as the informational context that instructs the trainee throughout the training process. In addition, AR training incorporates spatial awareness, allowing instructions to be overlaid on specific physical points which enables accurate training references.

For example, if using AR in CPR training on a body bob – when checking for signs of life, text would explain why and how the trainee should check for signs of life, as well as utilize a 3D model of a hand to show the exact placement and technique to do so. Once the trainee has completed this step, additional instructions would guide the trainee in the next step.

Use AR training for:

Safety training: Machine operations
Practice training: Medical procedure, Med Device, Shop Floor, Assembly
Maintenance: Any equipment or product

MR Training

Mixed Reality training is much like AR training but with even more functionality. For example MR allows virtual images to be imposed on the physical world with spatial recognition and the ability to collaborate through virtual image manipulation, annotation and the sharing of data. With the ability to collaborate in real time, subject matter experts can offer remote guidance at the exact time it is needed so training is hands-on. With some MR headsets, trainees can also operate handsfree. Due to MR’s ability to recognize and interact with your environment, high impact and flexible training course are achieved.

cpr training with hologram

Mixed Reality is best used for:

Safety training: Machine operations
Practice training: Medical procedure, Med Device, Shop Floor, Assembly
Maintenance: Any equipment or product
Remote Guidance: Medical procedures, Field Operations

Take Away

When looking at how these technologies approach the idea of training, we can see that each one has its strengths and weaknesses. VR excels in teleporting users to an immersive 3D world outside of real life reality.

AR is exceptional at providing an interactive experience, augmenting the users’ typical view with contextual inreal-life and imagery. Finally, MR excels in both immersion and interaction by combining elements of the real and digital world. MR is not as accessible as AR, nor is it as immersive as VR, but it is able to take elements from both to improve user engagement and retention.

Depending on what your organizational need is, the use of AR, VR, and MR can innovate training programs by stimulating trainees with visual interaction. Make sure that you understand which medium is a good fit for the type of training your organization needs. Whether that be hands on or conceptual training, SphereGen is here to answer your questions.

About SphereGen

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SphereGen is a unique solutions provider that specializes in cloud-based applications, Intelligent Automation, and Extended Reality (AR/VR/MR). We offer full-stack custom application development to help customers employ innovative technology to solve business problems.

Learn more about what we do in XR: https://www.spheregen.com/extended-reality

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