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Virtual Reality for training – why the time is now.

Virtual reality (VR) is nothing new, it’s been around for a while. In fact my first introduction to VR back in the mid 1990’s involved a cumbersome heavy headset, a huge purpose-built computer, a very underwhelming user experience and a distinct feeling of motion sickness. Back then VR failed to deliver on its promise, but at least it tried. And importantly it gave us a look into what was to come.

Fast forward 25 years and VR is in a much better position for us all to stand up and take note. VR is back with a bang and quite rightly so. Why? Because since the mid 90’s technology has accelerated forward at an exponential rate, taking with it virtual reality.

Gone are the cumbersome devices and super computers needed to participate, being replaced by lightweight, powerful and affordable VR headsets available from any local high street electronics store.

The VR experience of today is unlike any other. Incredible photo-realistic graphics effortlessly blur the boundaries between real and virtual worlds, immersing you deep into something that’s hard to believe isn’t real. So what therefore are the opportunities and benefits of today’s virtual reality to organisations considering its application for training purposes?

First and foremost, today’s virtual reality is a low-cost training option both in terms of financial investment and time required to implement and participate. Second, the immersive and convincing nature of VR experiences increases a participants ability to learn from it thanks to a much deeper level of engagement with the content. Third, VR gives you the opportunity to not only create training simulations to support real-world practice, but also to create the unexpected in order to be able to manage it effectively.

Imagine being able to deliver a training simulation for example, on how to respond to the outbreak of fire in a highly volatile environment. Or one that positions participants in a high-risk situation that requires a coordinated response under pressure where doing the right thing at the right time saves lives. VR makes all of this possible, and possible in a way that presents no risk or compromise to the safety of those participating.

Imagine then being able to replay these training simulations over and over again, to any member of the workforce regardless of their physical location on the planet and you’ll start to see how relevant VR can become.

2017 has been a huge year for virtual reality training applications with the likes of KLM Airlines, Audi, UPS and most recently Airbus taking advantage of VR technology to reduce cost, save time and lower risk. So for your year ahead, the question that I put to you is what are you going to do about virtual reality now?

Chris Elson is Creative Technologist at Diverse Interactive, a leading UK VR studio located in Surrey where he works with organisations to evolve their thinking around technology applications and traditional business practice.

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