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Using VR for Training: A Full Guide for 2021

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VR hardware and software have been developed a great deal since their early stages: now, software solutions are more consistent in quality and the hardware is more affordable than ever before.

That’s making more companies think about implementing VR into their staff training routines. The reasons are obvious: VR training saves money and keeps trainees out of harm’s way until they’re completely comfortable with their tools.

Let’s dive into VR for corporate training and see how it helps to make training more effective.

 

Table of contents:

How VR Is Changing the Training Process

Use Cases for VR Training

VR Training Solution Architecture

VR Training Technology Stack

Features of Virtual Training Simulations

How Much Does VR Training Simulator Development Cost?

VR vs. AR: Which One Is Better for Virtual Training?

VR Training: Our Success Story

How VR Is Changing the Training Process

Workforce training has never been easy. It often requires traveling long distances and the involvement of numerous trainers, which gets costly. In addition, in some fields of work, training carries potential safety concerns.

Virtual Reality has features that help companies make their training programs safer, more convenient, and effective.

Instructional designers can use Virtual Reality to create realistic training scenarios for specific roles. The ability to customize virtual environments makes it possible for companies to put trainees in a 360° virtual space where they can actively learn by experiencing sights and sounds and interacting with objects and other trainees.

Combined with a carefully structured learning curriculum, immersive technology can improve: 

  • Learning retention;
  • Job performance;
  • Team collaboration;
  • Workplace safety;
  • Training costs.
Benefits of VR training
Benefits of VR training

Now, let’s see how different companies apply VR to their staff training process.

Use Cases for VR Training

Virtual Reality helps companies improve their staffers’ skills in many ways apart from saving resources. 

Various VR training solutions offer scenarios that improve trainees’ professional knowledge and also teach collaborative teamwork, problem-solving, and other essential skills.

Looking to create your VR staff training software?

HQSoftware team packs highly skilled professionals to tackle the project. Let’s discuss your ideas!

Julia Tuskal
Head of Sales
at HQSoftware

For example, here are some of the benefits of VR training for developing soft skills.

VR training solutions for soft skills development

Instructors can use Virtual Reality to create scenarios that put trainees in real-life situations where they have to find a solution to a certain problem. By giving them a life-like sense of the situation, the staffers will be encouraged to come up with reasonable decisions.

For example, instructors can use Virtual Reality to create an interactive environment such as a conference room, where trainees can practice giving presentations or sales pitches.

In such a situation, VR offers an experience-based learning process that guarantees that the knowledge sticks.

VR for soft skills development
VR for soft skills development

Another great thing about Virtual Reality training systems is that they let users practice crisis management.

VR training software for crisis management

Apart from putting a person under stress, real-life crisis situations may carry risks that negatively affect the person’s ability to think clearly, thus reducing the effectiveness of unprepared hands-on learning.

Virtual Reality is a great way to transport people into realistic, yet risk-free work scenarios. This allows the trainee to polish their skills and practice drills with a clear mind.

For instance, the British Navy has implemented VR training software to create submarine and warship simulations. These simulations allow recruits to experience an emergency situation without any actual risk. This way, they are able to better understand how they must react in a real crisis and stay in control of the situation.

VR for crisis management training
VR for crisis management training

VR training platform for employee onboarding

When hiring new staff, it is crucial to get them oriented and working as quickly as possible. Many companies deal with this by offering presentations or videos on the company’s history and culture.

Certainly, these are helpful — but there’s always a way to make them more engaging and less time-consuming.

For example, a company can utilize VR technology to create a simulation that takes the newly hired employees around the building, showing them everything they need to know. 

VR can also be used to introduce corporate culture to interns and hired staff.

Virtual Reality allows for creating engaging and interactive presentations that can help new workers better learn the environment they will work in, as well as to explain company benefits, growth prospects, important contacts — everything they might need.

IKEA has used Virtual Reality to build immersive simulations that allow workers to experience the workdays of their colleagues. This way, the staffers are able to better understand the opportunities IKEA offers.

VR training industry use cases

Virtual Reality has proved itself an effective learning tool for all kinds of industries. Many companies are finding ways to implement VR to enable staff to learn essential skills in a better way.

Here is a quick rundown of how some businesses go about it:

  • Healthcare. Virtual Reality can help surgeons practice their skills in a risk-free environment.
  • Construction. VR training solutions replicate workplaces and tasks with all of the danger removed, so that employees can have a hands-on training experience.
  • Manufacturing. In manufacturing, various aspects of training can be improved with VR: for instance, there are immersive simulations for field operator training.
  • Retail. VR training simulations can be implemented for staff onboarding, customer service training, and product knowledge training.
VR industry use cases
VR industry use cases

VR Training Solution Architecture

VR training solutions are very helpful at improving trainee retention and skill development during the learning process.

Before you decide whether to apply the technology to your instructional endeavors, let’s take a look at how the VR training app works.

At its most basic, VR training software includes three elements:

  • Web administration panel. Allows for creating, adding, and managing learning scenarios;
  • Cloud storage. Cloud is used for storing databases, assets, training simulations, and user information;
  • VR training software solution. The VR application runs the simulation: processes the data from controllers; generates visual, audio, and sensory feedback; runs training scenarios; powers characters’ AI, etc.
VR training solution architecture
VR training solution architecture

VR Training Technology Stack

Virtual Reality applications feature complex software that goes beyond your usual social media or texting apps.

As we can see from the architecture of the VR training app, the software always consists of several layers that are built with different technology.

So, let’s break the VR technology stacks down according to the job they do.

Web administration panel

For the web administration panel, JS, HTML, and CSS are the base of the frontend section. Developers use those tools to build the interface of the panel. 

When it comes to the backend of the VR training solution, Python and Go are some of the most popular options.

Cloud storage

In terms of cloud services, there are already developed infrastructures. Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft provide their own solutions: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud. Many VR developers rely on those services for asset storage.

VR training app

The last thing to discuss here is the base of the actual VR simulation. Essentially, VR is a three-dimensional environment, where the user can move and interact with objects freely.

Those environments and objects are built with Unity and C languages. Depending on the platform chosen to run the VR app, the following SDKs are used: Oculus SDK, GearVR SDK, iOS/Android SDK, WebVR.

Web administration panel JS, HTML, CSS, Python, Go
Cloud storage Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud
VR training app Unity, C languages, Oculus SDK, GearVR SDK, iOS/Android SDK, WebVR

Features of Virtual Training Simulations

VR training software can serve various business domains, solving different kinds of problems for different users.

The different purposes to which a VR training app can be applied will require varying features. 

But there are many features that are essential in any type of VR training software. Let’s review those.

To give you a better perspective on the kinds of features that may be included in training software, we’ll divide them according to the element of the software they will be part of.

Features for the web administration panel

  • Authoring tools. Authoring tools allow instructors to manage training scenarios and simulations. They can add, remove, or update simulations according to the training goals.
  • Performance analytics. Administrators and trainees are able to see their performance in the form of dashboards. They can use this information to assess the effectiveness of training scenarios and correct the curriculum.
  • Scheduling. Scheduling features can be very useful for group training sessions: everybody can be up to date on when the session starts and get timely notifications.
  • User profiles. With this feature, the user can create a profile that will be associated with their personal information, including programs they complete and performance metrics.
  • Training programs. Those are virtual training scenarios that trainees take. Administrators can edit them, remove them, and upload new ones with authoring tools. 
Features for web admin panel
Features for web admin panel

Features for VR training app

  • In-app video streaming. Great for recording and playback VR sessions and guides, so trainees can refer to the information later.
  • AI-controlled virtual characters. For communicative training with virtual avatars.
  • Multi-user sessions. Allows for encouraging collaboration with other trainees and/or instructors during group tasks and simulations.
Features for VR training app
Features for VR training app

These are features that will help you cover the basic needs of whatever domain you provide training for. 

Now, let’s talk about the actual cost of building a VR training application.

How Much Does VR Training Simulator Development Cost?

Given the many purposes VR training software serves, what it can do can vary greatly.

This means that a different set of features will be included in each app, which influences the overall development cost.

So, before giving an estimate of virtual reality app development services, we have to discuss everything that can affect the cost of Virtual Reality training.

Types of VR apps

There are three major types of VR training apps companies can use, depending on their business needs:

  • Non-immersive VR. The user is not immersed in the virtual space — it is displayed on a screen and does not replace the physical reality.
  • Semi-immersive VR. Such VR apps feature three degrees of freedom, allowing for seated or stationary environments. The trainees see the virtual space through headsets. They can’t move but can look around and interact with objects inside the environment using pointer controls.
  • Fully immersive VR. This is a fully-featured VR environment. The trainee can freely move around the space and interact with objects. In this case, Virtual Reality completely replaces the real one. Such apps are more versatile and can be used to make immersive simulations with complex training scenarios.
Types of VR training apps
Types of VR training apps

The cost of the fully-featured VR app will obviously be higher than that of a more limited solution.

But before you can build any of those apps, you must consider one of the most important factors in VR training software development — getting the training part right.

Instructional design

Before building virtual environments and assets, you’ll need to figure out what assets you need and how they will work together to help workers learn new skills.

That is what instructional design is all about. Here’s what instructional designers do before the development process kicks off:

  • Outline learning objectives;
  • Develop scripts;
  • Map VR interactions;
  • Identify key metrics.

That information will help developers create VR training solutions that trainees can rely on to polish their skills and attain new knowledge most effectively.

Instructional design for VR training app
Instructional design for VR training app

Content

Now that you know how your training is going to work, it is time to create content for it.

Depending on your training scenarios, you might need:

  • 3D environments;
  • 3D models of objects;
  • Interaction animations;
  • Sound effects;
  • Instructional voice-overs.
Content for VR training app
Content for VR training app

After the assets are complete, developers can start putting them together into the VR training software.

The development team composition

When it comes to development cost, the composition of the development team also can change it greatly. A team can include a variety of specialists, depending on the job you need to do.

A general team of software developers includes:

  • Business Analyst — creates a specification for software, together with a Project Manager. They also ensure the project is financially feasible and keep an eye on budget;
  • Project Manager — breaks the project down into tasks, assigns the tasks to developers, and oversees the whole process;
  • UX/UI Designer — responsible for creating interfaces that are easy to understand for users;
  • Developers — build the whole VR training solution;
  • QA testers — make sure that every feature of the software works as it should and there are no bugs.

With VR training software specifically, you also might need:

  • Instructional designers — create the training scenarios and decide how the whole learning process goes;
  • 3D Designer — build assets that are used in simulations;
  • Voice actors — may voice instructions in some training simulations.
VR development team composition
VR development team composition

Hardware

On top of the cost of virtual reality app development services, employing VR requires specific hardware to run the apps.

You will need to purchase VR headsets from companies like HTC, Oculus, or Samsung. Some of the more affordable options from Oculus start at $300 apiece.

VR hardware
VR hardware

A rough estimate for a VR training app would be from $10,000 to $35,000. Keep in mind that this cost is based on a developer rate of $35/hour, which is the average in Belarus and Estonia. Developers from those regions are highly skilled but offer comparatively lower rates.

VR vs. AR: Which One Is Better for Virtual Training?

Both Virtual and Augmented Reality are great technologies that can bring staff training to a whole new level. They offer new ways of interacting with learning content that improves user retention.

But how do those two stack up against each other?

Let’s compare AR and VR for corporate training from two major points of view:

  • Required hardware. Augmented Reality is easier for companies to implement and for users to comprehend because it requires only a mobile device with a camera. Smartphones and tablets are less expensive than VR headsets, and everybody already knows how to use them. On the other hand, Virtual Reality needs a more powerful headset;
  • Training scenarios. AR creates an overlay on top of the image seen through the camera, so it is great for isolated technical topics. For instance, trainees can study engine design through AR. With the ability of VR to create virtual interactive spaces, it can be used to develop both technical and soft skills.
AR vs. VR for staff training
AR vs. VR for staff training

Augmented Reality is great for breaking down specific topics, and it is a lot cheaper to implement. If there is a need for more complex immersive training scenarios, VR would be a preferable option.

VR Training: Our Success Story

VR simulations for occupational training

The HQSoftware team has partnered with an American startup to develop a VR training solution that enables users to learn technical skills and find new jobs.

The software features a selection of VR simulations from various domains, such as electrical engineering, soldering, or cooking.

The training process goes through two stages:

  • Animation tutorial. Here the user watches the sequence of actions with voiced instructions. All of the actions are performed by “ghost hands,” which the trainee tries to repeat;
  • Hands-on practice. After the tutorial, the trainee has to repeat the sequence on his or her own. The instructions are limited, but if the trainee has trouble with a certain action, the software will provide a hint.
VR software for occupational training
VR software for occupational training

There is also a scoring module that assesses the trainee’s performance.

VR drunk-driving simulation

We have also built a Virtual Reality application for a driving school. The application simulates the distorted vision of a drunk driver, allowing students to experience the physical impairments that come with intoxicated driving.

The app simulates the effects of latency vision, swirled, blurred, vignette, and double vision.

VR drunk driving simulation
VR drunk driving simulation

If you are looking to develop your VR training solution — talk to us. We will discuss your ideas, come up with a project specification and a cost estimate.

Yuri Yarmolovich

AR/VR Expert

A developer with extensive expertise in AR/VR, very ingrained into the topic of Mixed Reality development. Shares his knowledge and the results of many years of work. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is virtual reality training?
How much does virtual reality training cost?
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What is the future of training?

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