Saving Life and Limb With Virtual Reality (VR) Training
While training is a universal constant across all industries, the ease with which it can be delivered and its safety are not. That is, up until Virtual Reality (VR) technology came along and started delivering life-like simulations that were previously expensive, time-consuming, and downright dangerous. However, adoption isn’t as widespread as it should be—a problem XRApplied is aiming to fix.
One of the biggest revolutions to make itself felt in the world of training and professional development is Virtual Reality (VR). With the ability to immerse training participants in realistic yet virtual scenarios, the medium makes for a powerful adjunct to more traditional methods in just about every domain. However, there is one type of application where virtual reality is making itself particularly felt like more than just a mere supplement, and that’s whenever there’s a need to simulate dangerous scenarios.
The reasons for this are multiple. However, the most compelling of all is the safety VR affords the trainee. As such, trainers can deliver the opportunity to develop skills in a no-consequences environment. This not only improves trainee safety, but also affords the chance to deliver training scenarios that, until now, may even have been impossible to simulate.
Immersive Simulation Training is Already Well Proven
Thrusting through the internal regions of the atmosphere with a powerful rocket ship is dangerous business. The situation can turn deadly in the blink of an eye, as the spectacularly tragic and devastating explosion of Challenger not long after takeoff illustrated so vividly.
For this reason, astronauts train in immersive simulators for up to two years before even going near a real-life rocket, usually at great expense. Elaborate simulators are built, and teams of equipment operators are needed to supervise whenever future astronauts are training.
However, despite the great expense incurred, the training is seen as worthwhile, not only for mission success, but also for astronaut safety. Even if training cannot simulate the same visceral sensations of riding a real rocket ship, astronauts can still learn which buttons to push and, through force of repetition, implant this deep into their muscle memory. Like this, once they are confronted with the stress of a real situation, they can assess and analyze the situation at hand without the additional cognitive load that comes with attempting to remember how to operate the equipment.
The Potential of Simulation Training Extended by Virtual Reality
Of course, simulation training isn’t restricted to space, either. Military personnel, pilots, and a plethora of other occupations have all been using it for years to great effect. But the arrival of virtual reality has greatly expanded both the scope and accessibility of the training.
As for the scope of the training, virtual reality is proving itself in its capacity to recreate things that quite simply couldn’t be simulated before. Take fire, for example. Previously, the only way to simulate a fire was to actually light a fire—not the safest thing to do. But, with virtual reality, realistic fire simulations can be created with nothing more than a little graphics work and some code.
On the accessibility side, virtual reality is also creating the possibility of rolling out training modules to more people in more locations. And it’s giving the ability to not only repeat training many more times than was previously possible, but also to do it at a much lower cost. Expensive machines, dedicated locations, and all the associated travel costs involved are wiped away, with the only significant cost being the initial development.
The Greatest Benefit of All: Safety
While virtual reality expands the range of training activities available and the number of trainees that can access them, the greatest advantage of VR training is to be found in the safety it affords. By providing realistic simulations of everything from dangerous animals and fires to heavy machinery and active shooters, training participants can be exposed to just about anything without any risk of injury or loss of life.
These benefits don’t just extend to the extreme ends of the danger spectrum, either. Firefighters in the U.S., for example, incur thousands of training-related injuries whilst conducting routine training exercises. While this is an inherent risk of the job, these training injuries represent over 10% of all firefighter injuries, bringing into question whether many of these could be avoided through the use of virtual reality technology.
Virtual Reality Training Not Living Up to Its Potential
While virtual reality training is undoubtedly a powerful tool, it is still hindered by low market penetration. This is due to several factors. These factors include the usual institutional inertia, and a lack of awareness amongst many training providers. But it is also being held back from widespread adoption due to its currently inflated development costs and high knowledge requirements.
These problems aren’t an inevitability, however. At least, not according to one VR development company, XRApplied. The company says that many VR solutions can be executed at a low cost, and without needing to fill large knowledge gaps within an organization, while still being tailored to their needs.
To Train the Experts, Bring In the Experts
According to XRApplied, rolling out comprehensive virtual reality solutions to training (and just about anything else) just needs a little expert consultation from the right people—people who are there to design the best solution for you, and have the tools and knowledge to implement it.
For this, the company is well equipped, with industry veterans, a suite of proprietary SDKs and development tools, and, most importantly, a real desire to make a big positive impact on the world with leading-edge virtual reality solutions.
(Featured image by Stephan Sorkin via Unsplash)
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