With the many different and exciting ways in which Virtual Reality is now being implemented, it has well established itself as a bona fide asset to many in many industries. From retail and architecture, all the way to the medical field, VR is gaining some serious traction and has broken off its singular tie to the gaming industry.
This blog will spotlight the ways in which VR is being used as part of specific training programs. The myriad of benefits attached to this progress and foreshadowing of exciting new applications to come.
Virtual Reality Medical Training
We discussed the exciting new breath of air that VR and AR are introducing into the intricate and all-important field of medicine. Perhaps the most crucial benefit that stems from VR integration in the medical field is that it provides medical students a chance to practice real procedure, without risking the lives of real people. Oculus, along with The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) recently announced their partnership in creating a medical training program using Oculus headsets and VR simulation for incoming medical students. CHLA is requiring all incoming medical students to take a VR training program before they start working at their hospital. These training modules are being deployed to 11 other organizations including Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, to name a few.
Oculus is going as far as donating Oculus Go headsets to these organizations, in order to “allow for on-the-spot training without the need for the extra real estate.” According to Oculus’s blog post, “VR can bridge the gap between medical school and hospital rounds by placing students and staff in realistic training scenarios that can replicate the stress, adrenaline, and time-sensitive circumstances of life-or-death situations — without putting patient safety on the line.”
Virtual Reality Enterprise Training
A creative way VR is being used to train is through Vantage Points sexual harassment training software. This software allows users to fully experience situations where they see someone being sexual harassed and measure and record the bystanders’ response time and how they would respond if faced with this unfortunate predicament. It helps the user be able to identify sexual harassment in the workplace, giving them visual learning and understanding of what constitutes as sexual harassment. The software algorithm allows one to get individualized training based on their level of “wokeness.” This type of training is a big departure from traditional sexual harassment training sessions where an expert would come in and talk about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to identify it when it emerges. A study conducted in 2001 evaluated how effective sexual harassment training is at a medium sized university. Psychology Today looked at this study and found that “men who attended the training were more likely to say that sexual behavior at work was wrong, but they were less likely to notice sexual harassment, less willing to report sexual harassment and more likely to blame the victim.”
The article concluded that “most sexual harassment training is effective at increasing employees’ knowledge about sexual harassment, but not necessarily changing their behaviors.” While traditional training has been proven to bring awareness on sexual harassment, it is somewhat lacking in solving the underlying issue of pinpointing when sexual harassment occurs, reporting the issue, and changing the behaviors to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Vantage Points founder Morgan Mercer is hoping to change that by immersing people in real life situations to help them recognize and prevent these situations rather than just being notified and not fully comprehending it. Corporations have already shown interest in leveraging this technology, seeing major potential in this software for their companies.
In July, KAEFER Group, a specialist in insulation, announced their partnership with Luminous Group to provide VR safety training for their staff. They worked on producing three scenarios for the VR headset: personal protective equipment (PPE) training, working in confined spaces and height training. KAEFER set out to create a more hands-on approach to training that is safe for both the trainees and those around them. In this sense, employees can be trained to handle and respond to dangerous situations that can potentially come up when doing their job. Those who are training the employees can watch and see how the employees respond and give feedback at a faster rate than with traditional training methods. Consequently, this use of VR can help potentially save lives and train people to know what to do if faced with such a circumstance in real life.
Virtual Reality Government Job Training
The United States Air Force is trying to reduce its pilot shortage by using VR simulators to speed up the training process of new pilots. They conducted an experiment using 20 Pilot Training Next (PTN) candidates, five enlisted personnel and 15 officers to measure the impact of VR training compared to basic flight training. The participants were given unlimited access to the realistic flight simulators, allowing them to practice and train whenever they were able to. In conventional pilot trainings, students are limited to how much they can practice. Using the VR supported mode of training, instructors were able to monitor two students at once, allowing more efficient oversight and quicker determinations on what the students are doing. It also gave them an opportunity to provide hands-on-feedback to multiple people, reducing the time it takes to give each student feedback on their training. Capt. John Joern, a T-6 Texan II instructor overseeing students in the study, stated, “we’ve seen leaps and bounds increase, especially at the beginning of the program,” when reflecting on how quickly the students were learning in the program. The deputy director of the program said it took about half the time than what other pilots go through in the same check ride that the simulators provided, supporting the notion that students were learning quicker when using the VR simulators than common training programs. Out of the 15 officers, 13 passed. They are using the successes and failures of this experiment to implement another version in December, but feel encouraged with respect to how successful the first training program performed, with founded hopes that it will continue to improve.
One of the most dangerous and challenging government jobs out there is firefighting. While most people run away from fires, these brave men and women valiantly run into burning buildings, risking their own lives to save the lives or others. Training firefighters can be dangerous and costly, not only financially but to the environment and surrounding neighborhoods. One way to help make training easier and more affordable is to utilize VR into their training regimen. A new VR training simulator called FLAIM Trainer has been created to address these valid issues. It consists of an HTC Vive headset, haptics systems and a vest that tracks the user’s vital signs. The Vive headset also comes with a custom breathing apparatus to mimic one’s own breaking tank they would have to wear in real life. While in the virtual world, firefighter trainees use real life equipment to put out fires by having a tracker attached to the end of their hose, essentially allowing them to put out fires in the virtual world using real equipment. The haptics system imitates the real force of water and the clothes they wear have heat packs in them that warm up when facing the virtual fire. All of these details make the trainee feel they are fully immersed in a real-life fire situation. The vest they wear captures their vitals, recording their physiological responses and performances. This data is stored in a cloud that can be reviewed and help instructors monitor progress over time. FLAIM provides a great alternative to training firefighters and makes it possible to put them in the best position possible when real situations emerge.
The list of ways in which VR is being used as a revolutionary training vehicle in many industries is growing. More than that, this game-changing trend is providing companies with an opportunity to gain a competitive edge. By heightening the level of safety when it comes to training new employees they’re also increasing the prospects for purposeful engagement and learning.
A win-win, on many a level. We hope you enjoyed this informative blog on a developing trend we’ll be following closely.