Co-Founder and COO at VR Vision Inc an immersive technology group that is developing virtual and augmented reality solutions for the future.
When you hear about augmented reality, you might think of Snapchat filters or Pokémon Go. However, many companies have begun using it for hands-on skills training in the workplace.
While some companies have used AR technology primarily for entertainment, it has become advantageous for many industries when it comes to training. You can use it to imitate real-world experiences your employees encounter to keep their skills relevant in the changing industry environment.
What is augmented reality?
Despite their similar names, augmented reality (AR) is not similar to virtual reality (VR). VR completely alters the surroundings, creating a new environment for you to use. On the other hand, AR will modify the current surroundings.
For example, an AR Snapchat filter may add a dancing character to your video. It does not reinvent the scene altogether, but it does modify it by adding sensory information to the perceived world that improves your experience. AR’s goal is to notice, understand and develop insight into specific real-world features. Then, companies can use it for product promotion, user data and marketing campaigns.
Why are more companies using AR training?
Many companies have already begun using AR and VR for training. While the sector is relatively small, the technology has become more accessible. Most industries can use augmented reality to train their employees. MORE FOR YOUSliding Into DMs: How Shawn Sharma Has Been Leveraging Instagram To Grow His BrandsThis 24-Year-Old Serial Entrepreneur’s Latest Passion: ‘Chibi Dinos’A Million-Dollar Business Owner Unlocks The Systems And Processes That Helped Him Scale
Initially, AR had a high investment cost and posed difficulties in using it effectively. The equipment is costly, and it requires a lot of power to work. Furthermore, companies need to choose the method of deployment. For example, they could use a smartphone app, head-up display or headset. As these devices continue to develop, AR has become more affordable and available. These days, companies can affordably implement AR training in their workplace.
What are the benefits?
Augmented reality provides many benefits for educating and training employees. Visual and hands-on learners may learn more from augmented reality than from a lecture or conference. They can practice as many times as needed without dangerous consequences. In addition, trainees can learn in an interactive environment and feel more inclined to engage.
Employees may feel more willing to work hard if they can sense what they need to learn. AR training provides many training opportunities for them to practice until they perfect their skills. Furthermore, they can complete the training almost anywhere that they can use their AR device.
You can reduce the time trainees spend working with experts. Instead of working directly with clients, they can practice until they feel confident enough to handle the situation in person. In that sense, AR also improves the customer experience. They are more likely to interact with a fully-trained employee, so customer service may run smoother and faster.
Lastly, AR training can decrease training costs. While the equipment is a pricey investment, you can reuse it for all of your trainees. Additionally, most people have smartphones that work with AR training apps.
How do I get started with augmented reality?
If you’re a business leader in an innovation role and are looking at ways to adopt AR in a useful and productive way, there are many considerations to keep in mind when adopting the technology. First, identify the specific use case for AR. There are several ways to implement AR, and each has its merits.
In my opinion, the best-suited option for training is wearable AR. This is where the user’s hands are free as they wear an augmented viewpoint headset. The two main players in this segment are the Microsoft HoloLens or the RealWear HMT-1. Both headsets allow a full range of motion and give the user overlaid information in real-time to assist them during complex tasks or procedures.
Consider your training needs to determine the best solution. Do you need a large field of view (FOV) or the ability to move around easily? Do you want graphical overlays or textual ones? Would it be helpful for trainees to pull data from schematics or instructions and have that information relayed to their eye in AR order to work hands-free? Or do you want them to see an augmented overlay of information in the real world to aid whatever job or task they are training on?
In my experience, the HoloLens is better suited for complex visualizations and works well where there’s a need for high-fidelity graphical overlays. On the flip side, the RealWear HMT-1 is more of an informational diegesis that will aid the worker by supplying additional context, voiceovers, manuals or even diagrams all within a small picture-in-picture viewpoint.
Augmented reality can help employers accelerate training time, educate employees and enhance the workforce by keeping skills relevant. While it is costly to implement, AR can save time and money in the long run because of its efficiency and effectiveness. As more companies integrate AR training into their employment strategies, consider how you can apply it to your business.
When looking to adopt the technology, first consider the use case and then decide on the hardware that would best fit the specific job you are looking to train for. Do your research to build a business case internally to help make a more informed decision.