XR Learning Solutions (AR/MR/VR)
Not but a few years ago, the idea of technologies like augmented reality in the workplace was novel. Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality were all considered budding technologies. Though many experts speculated they would revolutionize our world, the technology hadn’t caught up to their vision just yet. But if you fast forward to today, you’ll find extended reality (XR) technologies in a variety of applications across several industries. They’ve been used to create everything from immersive training modules to remote collaboration hubs. And with some of the largest technology companies in the world continuing to invest in every form of extended reality, they show no signs of slowing down.
The 3 Kinds of Extended Reality (XR)
Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term that refers to three distinct technologies: augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR). SkillSource’s XR experts can develop innovative learning solutions across all of these technologies aimed to improve performance in a low-risk, safe environment. We can provide your organization with immersive learner experiences through effective XR training backed by quantifiable results and analytics.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is a technology that layers digital visuals over the real world like a heads-up display (HUD). Think of AR as 25% digital and 75% reality. You can see and interact with the real world, but certain aspects of it may be entirely digital or digitally enhanced with visuals and information. More advanced forms of augmented reality include a headset, but there are simpler methods that require nothing more than a smartphone.
As it stands, augmented reality in the workplace is more limited than virtual reality, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t already had a major impact. In education, augmented reality has allowed students to explore the concepts they’re studying closer than ever before. A student can learn first-hand how large an elephant is without the fear of getting too close. In the future, AR might be as commonplace as the smartphones in our pockets. It may be used by navigation apps to display directions directly on the street in front of you, or by educational apps to spellcheck and grammar-check handwritten notes.
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed reality has the potential to create the most even blend of physical and digital worlds. It allows an individual would be able to interact with digital content within a real-world setting. This might sound identical to augmented reality, but there is a key difference between the two. With mixed reality, digital content should be capable of a higher level of interaction with the physical world. The goal of mixed reality is to combine the digital world and reality in a way that they can react to each other. The mixed reality panther debuted by the Carolina Panthers in late 2021 is arguably the most famous use of mixed reality. The NFL team had a virtual panther created that excited live audiences by scaling stadium walls directly over their heads.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is a set of hardware that allows a user to interact with an entirely fabricated, digital reality. Think of VR as 75% digital and 25% reality. The space you occupy is real, but the world you see and the objects you interact with may be entirely digital. This hardware usually includes a headset capable of displaying the digital world on a monitor and hand-held peripherals that allow the user to perform actions. This hardware may be entirely standalone or tethered to a computer for applications requiring more processing power.
Today, virtual reality has been used in dozens of fields from marketing to education. In classrooms, VR headsets have taken students on field trips that would never have been possible otherwise. In some industries, VR safety training has been leveraged to remove the risk of employee improvement. In one of the most clever marketing campaigns of the year, Volkswagen leveraged a form of VR to get the edge on their competitors. By scanning a QR code with their phone, viewers were transported to a virtual racetrack where they could race against other people who watched the commercial.
Benefits of XR Training
One of the most pertinent applications XR technologies will have in nearly every industry is training. These technologies can make up for many of the shortcomings of traditional training programs if done properly. Most notably, professionally designed XR training solutions can make professional training safer, more immersive, and more accessible.
Extended reality will make training programs much more engaging simply because of how immersive they are. VR, AR, and MR all limit the number of distractions that may interrupt a trainee from completing their program. Additionally, this immersion causes the training to feel realistic, which is important for the training to be both engaging and effective. For instance, mechanics can practice performing maintenance on a realistic engine in a setting that is free of stress and distractions. The immersion of VR safety training in particular also helps individuals understand the importance of safety in the workplace.
Some professions carry an inherent level of risk in gaining hands-on experience. An easy example of this is the medical industry. A young surgeon needs to earn hands-on experience to save lives but runs the risk of causing serious harm to get that experience. Training simulations in extended reality can provide a solution to this conundrum. With virtual simulations of surgery, young medical students can practice vital procedures without the risk of harming their patients. VR safety training can also be useful in industries where the trainee could be in danger. For example, helicopter pilots accept a high amount of risk just to learn to fly.
AR, VR, and MR share many of the same advantages as other eLearning methods. Most notably, electronic forms of learning are much more accessible than traditional methods. One of the major shortcomings of traditional training programs is the fact that they must be held in person. This is especially true in the wake of Covid-19 when more people than ever are working from home. However, XR training can remove this barrier to professional development. These technologies can make remote collaboration easier than ever before. And with the technology continuing to become cheaper and more widely available, it will only become easier to use.
Skills Impacted By Leveraging XR Training Solutions
The skills improved through XR-powered solutions can be broken into two categories: job-specific hard skills, and universal soft skills. However, new applications for these technologies are constantly being discovered and more skills are likely to be impacted by these technologies as well.
Job-Specific Hard Skills:
The hard skills required for a job will vary depending on the occupation, but XR training can be applied in nearly every industry. Whether you’re learning to tune an engine, do heart surgery, or bake a cake, extended reality can provide in-depth realistic training modules. These training modules not only remove the risk associated with learning these skills but also limit the amount of resources spent on training materials. For example, tradesmen could learn to weld without wasting power or metal in the process.
Virtual reality in particular is adept at running mock situations that can be used to evaluate employee effectiveness. Pilots have been using VR-powered flight simulators to prepare new pilots for years. Augmented reality, on the other hand, can provide professionals with a HUD that keeps the worker on track. Continuing with our pilot example, AR can provide pilots with a checklist of actions for the pilot to follow without looking away from the controls of the plane.
Universal Soft Skills:
Since the pandemic has forced many of us to work from home, there has been a noticeable drop in workers’ soft skills. These are skills like communication and teamwork which may not be tied to the job directly but are still necessary for any role. Recently, AR, MR, and VR have proven to be effective for improving workers’ soft skills because they add a human element to the training. For example, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging training programs were found to be much more effective with the use of VR because individuals felt they witnessed the mistreatment directly.
Leverage Extended Reality Effectively With SkillSource Learning
AR, MR and VR may be powerful technologies, but they’re only as smart as the person using them. In order to effectively utilize XR training in your company, you’ll need to team up with some experts. SkillSource’s XR consultants create dynamic interactive learning experiences that leave a lasting impact on the learner. Additionally, our experience in instructional design and learning experience design gives us a unique perspective on professional development at large. Contact us today to speak with an XR expert about how your organization can benefit from XR training.