Enterprises continue to contend with increasing complexity in their operations, prompting them to ramp up their digitalization efforts. Extended Reality (XR), which includes both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), is one of the top technologies being used by enterprises and industrial firms. Out of all the ways it benefits businesses, employee training is one of the most firmly established use cases of AR/VR. Using AR/VR training applications provides an interactive medium for employees to improve their understanding of complex/abstract concepts, simulate scenarios, apply knowledge, and harness their skills in secure settings.
Benefits of AR/VR Training
Enterprises that deploy augmented and virtual reality for employee training can expect the following business benefits:
- Time and Resource-Efficiency: AR learning applications allow for the improvement of employee skills without having to use physical resources and materials. Instead, all attendees can absorb the same content via a shared screen feature and re-usable content, which streamlines the training process.
- Cost Savings: AR/VR training requires fewer materials, instructors, and traveling needs than traditional training methods. This results in potentially thousands of dollars in savings per employee. Further, one study found that VR-based training led to a 4X faster training completion rate than classroom learning.
- Realistic Learning: AR/VR applications can closely mimic the real-world scenarios that employees will experience in the workplace through simulations. In turn, users will be better prepared to manage on-job tasks. These realistic AR/VR training exercises improve content retention, which can be a matter of life and death in some job functions, notably flying airplanes, performing surgery, and responding to emergencies.
- Better Employee Coaching: Instructor and Human Resources (HR) professionals can improve coaching outcomes by monitoring trainees' real-time performance, as AR/VR training applications collect and analyze performance data. As a result, feedback can be provided almost instantly if the situation calls for it. Some valuable data that can be collected through AR/VR training applications include location, heatmaps, interaction areas, success/failure rates, and time to complete.
- Personalized Content: Enterprises and manufacturers can use AR/VR applications to tailor training sessions for individual employees. In other words, the training material will address specific job requirements or individual weak points to maximize learning outcomes. Moreover, content can be created once and reused repeatedly for training purposes.
- Higher Engagement: Traditional training modules can feel boring and tedious. AR/VR applications provide a more engaging experience that will leave employees more satisfied with the quality of training.
- Safety: Many occupations, especially in industrial/manufacturing settings, are highly hazardous. VR simulations eradicate the need for employees or personnel to train in potentially dangerous environments. Virtual training means users can practice responding to unexpected and life-threatening scenarios without any real-world risk.
Chart 1: AR Training Active Users by Vertical
World Markets: 2023 to 2027
(Source: ABI Research)
AR/VR Employee Training Case Studies
Employee training is one of the most common use cases for augmented and virtual reality, with numerous examples provided on company websites. Here are three notable case studies I uncovered through my research.
Strivr and a Global Logistics Provider
Santa Clara, California-based company Strivr was chosen to provide VR training solutions to a number of Fortune 1000 companies in the manufacturing, automotive, logistics, healthcare, retail, and other sectors. A case study mentioned on the company’s website reports a 2X increase in the learning retention rate for package handlers at a global logistics provider.
Taqtile and PBC Linear
Facing an aging workforce, manufacturing firm PBC Linear turned to the AR training platform Manifest offered by Washington-based vendor Taqtile. The Manifest platform provided work templates to guide new employees with workflow instructions. This helps mitigate the effect of an exodus of experienced employees. Ultimately, the deployment of Taqtile’s AR-based training solution resulted in an 80% reduction in the time it takes to train PBC Linear’s workers and 20% annual savings thanks to scrap minimization and fewer mistakes.
ARuVR and a Medical Equipment Manufacturer
Having trained more than 1 million employees during 500,000 hours of training, ARuVR is a reputable brand in the XR training industry. The California-based firm provides an end-to-end XR platform that allows businesses to create content, deliver XR training, and host live streams.
For this case study, a specialized medical equipment manufacturer leveraged the ARuVR platform to “gamify” the training process for employees, which was previously time-consuming. The client used built-in games, quizzes, and polls to bring more excitement to the learning modules. After using the gamified AR platform with content overlays, training courses were completed 69% faster, and 78% of employees cited improved engagement by using augmented reality.
When to Use AR or VR Training
AR and VR excel in enabling different employee training applications. Therefore, it must be clarified when each technology should be leveraged.
ABI Research assesses that VR is better suited to helping employees practice technical skills virtually, such as data analysis or complex workflow learning. On the other hand, AR is the best fit for cases where employees must practice safety and maintain awareness, such as when handling hazardous material or responding to life emergency scenarios (e.g., construction, chemicals, mining, energy, etc.).
Both AR and VR are effective at training employees’ soft skills. Despite this overlap in learning outcomes, VR solutions are currently the better option for content where interaction or immersion is valuable, such as practicing public speaking or problem-solving skills. For these reasons, it’s important to factor in the level of spatial awareness required for a training use case, notably in industrial settings. It’s also important to understand the budget, as both AR and VR can range from inexpensive (using existing devices like smartphones and tablets) to expensive (dedicated AR or VR headsets).
What You Can Do Now
If your organization plans to adopt AR/VR to train employees, there are many considerations to ponder before implementing the technology. For example, do you want your employees trained on-site or off-site? Are there any safety concerns? Can you use Three-Dimensional (3D) models, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) files, videos, and other existing content? To achieve the advantageous training outcomes of extended reality, managers and human resources professionals must identify what the technological, cultural, and process implications will be for their organization. From there, you can choose the most suitable XR solution that will align with your training needs and ensure your company is ready to leverage it to the fullest extent.
In its Enterprise and Industrial XR Training presentation, ABI Research points out all the key considerations you need to know before implementing AR/VR in training exercises. It goes a step further in providing strategic recommendations as you take this digitalization journey. This content is part of the company’s Augmented & Virtual Reality Research Service, which serves as the interconnection between end users of XR technologies and the vendors providing the solutions.