What is Virtual Reality Training?

Virtual Reality training uses 3D-generated images to create interactive digital scenarios that immerse a user into a virtual learning environment. These engaging, 360° simulations allow users to move about and interact with simulated real-world tools, machinery, and instructors in a virtual setting that looks, sounds, and feels just like the real world—using only a headset and controller.

The Immersion Technique of Virtual Reality

Our eyes and ears work the same whether we are in the real world or a virtual one. Virtual reality (VR) technology manipulates our senses with audio, visual, and sometimes tactile cues, simulating the way we perceive and interact with the real world. This immersion technique is what makes virtual reality so convincing and VR training so effective.

An Experience Like No Other

Often the first word after a VR experience is, “Wow!” Whether using the Oculus Rift to openly explore the deep sea, or using Virtual Reality training to prepare retail stores for armed robberies, the brain, and body, perceive VR experiences as real. True emotions are triggered. Joy, anxiety, surprise, and even fear, are used to navigate real-world environments and situations.

Why You Should Consider Virtual Reality Training

Virtual reality training minimizes the need for lengthy training courses that involve reviewing manuals, stopping production, acquiring expensive training equipment, and in-person role-playing. Immersive digital learning offers the chance to practice as many times as needed while in a controlled, virtual environment, so employees become proficient in new skills faster, easier, and more efficiently. Even professional and Olympic level athletes use Virtual Reality training to repeatedly practice skills and techniques, knowing they translate to success and performance in the real-world.

Employee VR Training Improves Performance

The argument for virtual reality in employee training is simple: it significantly improves user engagement, knowledge retention levels, job performance, and team collaboration, while providing a safe learning environment for employees.

When you combine complex story narratives with a custom-designed curriculum, employees are learning in the best way possible—through personal experience. And, the potential applications of VR technology are virtually endless. It can be modified and adapted for numerous organizations and businesses to optimize their unique employee training process.

The Benefits of VR Training

Aside from producing training that employees will not only want to take, but also will never forget, VR training has many benefits.

VR Training:

  • Simulates complex situations within a controlled environment.
  • Accurately depicts real-life scenarios and environments.
  • Accommodates large numbers of trainees remotely across various locations.
  • Creates a highly visual, hands-on approach that aids with learning and knowledge retention.
  • Offers peer review, real-time feedback, and ongoing assessment.
  • Ensures that learning is engaging and enjoyable.
  • Is cost-effective in the long-run.

How Does It Work?

VR training works on the premise of mistake-driven learning, with the cost of making a mistake in the virtual world being nothing compared to the cost of human error in reality. Also, the repeatability and randomization of VR training can expose employees to numerous different workplace situations and scenarios, providing a career’s worth of job experience in days or even hours.

Data Collection and Analysis

Another advantage of virtual reality training is that an employer can receive measurable data on each employee’s performance, enabling them to set benchmarks and analyze the progress an individual has made. As a result, employees can receive immediate feedback on their performance and set targets in real-time, allowing them to implement what they’ve learned at a much faster rate.

Cost Considerations

Using traditional training methods, you may have to train small groups, or sometimes a single person, one at a time on a particular piece of equipment, which can be costly and time-consuming. The short-term cost of implementing virtual reality training can indeed be higher than traditional methods due to the highly customized design and development. Despite the initial set-up cost, managers are starting to realize the long-term reduction in cost and the ROI in terms of engagement, safety, and retention when training in VR.

Real-World Application of VR

Companies have already begun implementing groundbreaking VR tools to facilitate employee training—with amazing results.

Many Industries are Already Using VR Training

From shopping and retain to military and law enforcement, many industries are already using VR employee training.  The detailed customization and memorable experience  lend itself to  many industries and workforces, including:

Engineering and Manufacturing

Example: Training on how to properly use machines or equipment to reduce the incidents of injury.

Shopping and Retail

Example: Creating a consistent new hire training experience to ensure customer interactions reflect a high level of service and attention. Or, retail sanitation training to keep customers safe.

Tourism and Hospitality

Example: Training on how to sell vacation excursions based on interests and budget.

Environmental Health and Safety

Example: Training on how to ensure proper industrial hygiene procedures are implemented and maintained.  

Medical and Healthcare

Example: Learning about new treatments or rare conditions during medical conferences. While in 2016 only 18% of physicians had used VR professionally, 60% were interested in using it.

 Architecture and Construction

Example: Comprehensive environmental conservation training program to ensure new construction preserves natural landscapes in growing towns.

Communication and Collaboration

Example: Encouraging cross-functional team collaboration during new product development cycles or training on how to have challenging conversations with low-performing employees.

Military and Law Enforcement

Example: Proper adherence and implementation of conflict de-escalation guidelines.

Food Services

Example: Training on how to quickly and correctly prepare fast-food.

Major Companies Seeing VR Training Results

In 2015, BP partnered with Igloo Vision to train their employees in emergency exit procedures at their oil refinery in Hull, England. Employees were able to learn from mistakes in the virtual world, reducing the probability of making the same error in the real world, which could ultimately save someone’s life. And in 2019, when the Johnson & Johnson Institute began looking to improve medical training for surgeons, they partnered with Osso VR to develop immersive training for doctors to perform operations. The results saw a 230% increase in surgical performance.

How to Get Started with VR Training

Before beginning any training initiative, you must first define your business need and training need. By spending the time up-front to define and map your learning needs, you ensure that the training program you create ties to your business goals.

Connect with a custom learning vendor to determine what type of VR training is right for your team. They will guide you through the process of creating your training narrative, developing an appropriate and interesting visual environment, and implementing a successful VR training program.