Written by Laura Chartier
Have you seen the 2002 movie Minority Report? If so, you probably marveled at the main character, John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise), using gestures like an orchestral conductor to navigate vast amounts of visual data on a virtual screen. Or perhaps you mused at Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), manipulating holograms to rapidly prototype a new element in the 2008 movie, Iron Man. Maybe you thought to yourself, “Won’t it be cool when we eventually have technology like that at our fingertips?” Well, guess what…we do! That technology is here now, and seriously, it’s been here for years.
As Talent Development Professionals, if we haven’t started preparing for the use of mixed realities in our workplaces, then we are already behind the virtual 8-ball.
But there’s already too much on my plate!
I know…it often seems like we can barely stay on top of what is already dumped in our laps, let alone keep track of the latest buzz-words and new best practices that constantly bombard us. With that said, I'm stepping out onto a precarious limb to suggest that we had better commit to making it a part of our regular routines to look up from (or dig out from under) the current stacks and piles that surround us, and explore the FUTURE of what we do.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are very real components of what training and eLearning are fast becoming, promoting a miraculous depth of knowledge and skill we previously never thought possible. In case you’re a little fuzzy about this whole VR/AR thing, let me help clarify: VR is a computer-generated representation of an environment that allows for user interaction through immersive simulation. AR differs from VR in that it superimposes a digital image, sound, data, or other sensory input over something real-world, in real time, blending the simulated and the tangible.
The recent advances of mobile devices and wearable technology have made AR and VR available not just in games and laboratories, but also in your hands. Using a smartphone anyone can create augmented reality content (yep, there are apps for that…many that are low-cost or even FREE).
Diminishing resources in today’s workplaces precipitate the need to evaluate and reevaluate methods to effectively train employees and customers. Accordingly, more and more Instructional Designers are showing interest in the opportunities that virtual and augmented realities have to offer.
Possibilities and Benefits for the Workplace
Augmented environments can be incredibly diverse, providing personalized learning content for each individual learner. Instead of memorizing information, the learner is involved in an adaptive learning experience based on an existing context. Having control over their environment, learners can manipulate virtual objects however they please.
Every employee, new or experienced, can learn the processes and procedures of the company they work for through augmented reality training.
Gartner Inc., the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, has concluded that AR provides the highest benefit for efficiency. It has the potential to:
Furthermore, a 2015 study conducted by Boeing with Iowa State University on the impact of augmented reality on business training showed that AR was responsible for a 30% reduction in the amount of time for task completions and a 90% improvement in quality on first attempts.
A video released last year from Caterpillar demonstrates how their company is revolutionizing the client experience, ultimately redefining what it means to be a relationship business in the digital age. Their Innovation Teams are bringing data to life, fusing physical and digital worlds with AR and VR. Using special glasses that reveal an overlay of digital information, models, and analytics on top of actual products, Cat is training operators and service technicians, improving productivity, and optimizing reality for their customers.
Well, get on the bandwagon already!
If you haven’t been sucked in by the Pokémon-Go phenomenon, you’ve undoubtedly at least heard about it…everywhere. That’s proof that one form of augmented reality is banging down our doors. If you wait much longer for VR and AR to be right in your face, it will likely be too late to anticipate the curve balls it will throw at your Learning and Development Program. Don’t get left behind in the virtual dust!
In the new 2016 movie Nerve, the game’s creepy robotic voice asks the character Vee, “Are you a watcher or a player?” When it comes to the future of Learning and Development, I’d like to encourage you to decide the same, and choose the latter.
What are your thoughts? Are you already using virtual or augmented reality, or other pioneering methods? Are you envisioning, researching, and planning for the future? How can we help each other stay ahead of the game and be successful?
For starters, be sure to scope out SEWI-ATD's 2016 Fall Special Event, “The Future...How Will You and Your Organization Remain Relevant? A Vision of Learning for 2020 and Beyond.”
Hope to see you there (and in the future, right now!)