Employee Training with Augmented and Virtual Reality has exploded in popularity as the significance of AR, VR, and MR technology has increased within the marketplace. In the early 2010’s the technology was expensive and unstable to use for most businesses. However, with continued development, new iterations of AR and VR headsets, as well as AR-enabled mobile devices – this technology is now more accessible to businesses and their customers.
Companies have realized that AR and VR are exceptionally suited for employee training programs and have achieved significant returns on investment in those areas. Going forward this blog will discuss the differences between Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality, as well as how training differs in each of these mediums.
Augmented Reality (AR) refers to a technology that 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 mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. Additionally, these supported devices represent a large portion of the currently available operating systems such as iOS, Android, and Windows.
Popular examples of AR applications include Pokémon GO, Snapchat filters, Navigation, and Advertising
Virtual Reality refers to a technology that utilizes visualizations of 3D objects and 360 environments. While the user does not interact with their real-world environment, they do interact with the virtual one visualized before them via special equipment. The required headset enables interactions based on sight, sound, and light movement. Additional accessories like controllers, gloves, shoes, cameras, etc. Provide finer, more nuanced control and interactions.
Popular types of VR applications include VR Games, VR Exercise, Simulated Training of various types, and immersive experiences like Exploration of Travel Destinations.
Mixed Reality refers to a technology that utilizes data from the users 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.
Popular types of Mixed Reality applications include Training & Assistance like Microsoft Guides, and Microsoft Remote Assist, “Edutainment” like Museum & Zoo Exhibits, Desktop/Workspace extensions, and more.
Though the AR, VR, and MR mediums are best suited for different scenarios, for the purposes of this blog we will use an employee training example that is suited for each medium. CPR training is a common need for businesses across the world and can be translated to the AR, VR, and MR medium-well.
An AR CPR employee training course would use a headset or mobile device to overlay CPR 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 CPR training would include a CPR dummy as well as the informational context that instructs the trainee through the process. For example, 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.
This scenario would include the use of a Mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, or an AR-enabled headset. Additionally, this scenario includes the use of 3D models as well as a physical CPR dummy to use in conjunction with the training.
A VR CPR employee training course would use a VR headset to immerse the trainee in a simulated environment or situation. The trainee would put on the headset and go through a standardized CPR course. Instruction can be at various complexities. A standard VR training model would include animations, environmental context, instructions, and interactive elements that would teach the trainee the CPR process, step by step. Though, unlike AR, the interactive elements within a VR simulation do not affect the user’s real-world environment, only the virtual world. As such, 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.
A MR CPR employee training course would use a headset device to overlay CPR instructions based on the trainee’s real-world environment. This can be done with text, video, audio, or images and in conjunction with real-world props. For example, at SphereGen, we use the HoloLens 2 and Guides to overlay animated instructions for chest compressions on our resident CPR dummy. We have found that this drastically improves the rate at which the trainee utilizes the proper compression technique. Additionally, we use the Guides analytic capabilities to improve the guide over time.
The main difference between the MR and AR versions of this training is that the MR training course is spatially aware. For example, when SphereGen uses its’ CPR training guide, we can include additional contextual material such as a CAT scan of a child’s rib cage, to simulate CPR on a child, rather than an adult. Due to MR’s ability to recognize and interact with your environment, high impact and flexible training course are achieved.
This scenario would include the use of an MR-enabled headset. Additionally, this scenario includes the use of custom 3D animations as well as a physical CPR dummy to use in conjunction with the training.
When looking at how each medium approaches the idea of CPR training, we can see that each one has its strengths and weaknesses. AR excels at providing an interactive experience but is not aware of its environment, instead seeking to augment the users’ typical view with contextual information. On the other hand, VR excels in immersing its users into a created world in which the user feels a part of. In the case of CPR training, VR excels at providing the context to a situation. For example, an AR CPR training course feels like a class, while a VR CPR training course may put you into an environment where CPR is needed, such as at the side of a pool. 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, AR, VR, and MR could be right for you. 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.
SphereGen is both a Microsoft and UiPath Partner, with expertise in implementing successful business applications for our customers. We specialize in the custom development of web/mobile apps, RPA integrations, and Unity AR/VR applications. We hold Gold and Silver level certifications in Application Development, Application Integration, Azure Cloud, Mixed Reality, and RPA. Learn more about our work at https://www.spheregen.com