Why virtual reality? Or, broader still, why immersive technology – the overarching name of the category which includes augmented reality and mixed reality. While not exactly new, why are we using them as the game-changing core of our new business and how did they become so important?
Stating the obvious – technology improvements move at the speed of light. Moore’s Law has applied for the last 55 years; the cost of technology has decreased at the same time as it has gotten faster, smaller, and more powerful. Only two years ago, a VR system required a gaming laptop that linked by cable to a headset and cost $2500. Today, the hugely successful untethered Oculus Quest costs only $400. The Unity VR development platform and more affordable ways to create and acquire 3D models have made content creation a smoother process.
The quality of original and novel content is critical. We soon saw the effect our immersive virtual reality experiences had on people. Everyone who put on a headset and swam with sharks or watched a total solar eclipse was blown away. At the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival, over 3,000 kids (and adults) were absolutely enthralled with our work – who knew that lessons on bioluminescence could be fun?
The success of our educational VR at the Festival made it clear that the real benefit for this technology existed not in experiences that take you on top of a mountain or under the sea, but ones that were more practical. Immersive technologies are best employed to educate, train, teach, and practice. We’re not the only ones who believe this – countless research studies support it.
Whether you are learning how to fix a carburetor or install a new hip, practice done in your workplace environment is proven to be more effective than lectures, videos, or books. Not only that, whatever the lesson, you can repeat it again and again. Anywhere. Anytime.
We are true believers in apprenticeships and see VR learning as an enhancement to the traditional model. Training in a virtual environment offers a level of consistency that mentoring can’t. Every trainee receives the same instruction every time, and in-depth analytics can be used to measure performance and refine the training process.
Once created, tested, and vetted, a VR training experience can be copied and installed in multiple headsets. It can even be sent to trainees out in the field, eliminating the time and expense of travel to training sites.
We believe that we are at the cusp of a massive shift in how workers of the future will learn. Digital disruption has completely upended the global economy and along with it the very nature of work. Manufacturing, retail, medicine, and the service sector are completely different than they were 20 years ago and now require a workforce retrained in new and pertinent skills.
Our team at Virtual Apprentice is convinced that immersive technologies will be THE game changer in preparing today’s workforce to handle tomorrow’s work.