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 in various business operations, especially in 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.
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.
Next, let’s take a closer look at why Virtual Reality is important and recognize some of its advantages.
Benefits of VR Training
Now that we know how Virtual Reality in learning enhances staff training, we’ll examine further benefits it brings to businesses.
Enhanced safety of training
Sometimes employees have to work in a hazardous environment or use dangerous equipment. Life-threatening situations can happen on oil rigs, in steel factories, at mining sites, and tons of other workplaces, and VR training simulators can help workers learn safely.
With Virtual Reality, learning how to use dangerous equipment, such as heavy machinery, or how to respond to dangerous situations becomes easier than ever. Workers who take part in Virtual Reality employee training programs that simulate such situations will:
- Gain new practical skills
- Learn to cope with stress related to dangerous or new situations
- Practice with equipment in a safe environment
- Develop effective responses to potentially threatening situations
- Fail safely and try again, as many times as it takes
This is how SEAT decreased the rate of muscle injuries in the workplace by 70% within two years after the organization started using VR training solutions. Employees have encountered true-to-life scenarios without being exposed to real risks, learned how to complete dangerous tasks, and were ready to perform perfectly in reality.
Effective approach to learning
Learning by doing is the most effective way to learn practical skills. When trainees have the opportunity to learn or practice skills in a VR training simulator, they not only perform better in reality but also show increased confidence in the process.
One study showed that retention rates for Virtual Reality training were 75%, compared to 5% gained from lecture-based learning and 10% from reading.
In Virtual Reality, the possibilities for creating immersive life-like experiences are endless. Inside the simulation, users can receive hands-on experience without any risk, practice an unlimited number of times, and perfect their skills, with a high retention rate.
Students who are training using Virtual Reality state that they are much more engaged in the process compared with in-person types of training or non-interactive e-learning. Engagement is tied quite closely to how well students retain new knowledge.
In terms of engagement, VR training solutions are inferior only to hands-on teaching by other people, where the retention rate reaches 90%.
Efficient knowledge processing
Virtual Reality training benefits also include more efficient uptake of knowledge. According to the study by PwC, students learned soft skills four times faster with virtual training than with in-person training.
Virtual Reality training simulations built by expert instructional designers feature carefully planned educational modules that optimize the learners’ experience and provide personalized training.
Also, Virtual Reality training solutions provide better, faster opportunities for feedback, which also saves students’ time.
Training flexibility and consistency
Another of the VR training benefits is that, using this technology for ongoing education, you can easily adapt and change a training program to incorporate new requirements, to cope with a rising number of users, to add new modules, and so on.
One definite advantage of Virtual Reality training is that it provides the opportunity to add and modify training scenarios, the environment, and objects, something that can’t always be said for education in a “physical” environment using real-life objects.
Training is typically expensive. The budget often includes the following expenses:
- Initial briefing about the program
- Delivery of training via in-person classes, video tutorials, e-learning methods, etc.
- Training content and materials, including textbooks, videos, etc.
- Staff time, including replacement time
- Instructor’s fees
- Extra expenses, e.g. meals, travel, lodging
- Ongoing training
Companies can save a lot on the costs of training using Virtual Reality. With Virtual Reality training software, they can create comprehensive virtual courses with reusable and easily adaptable content for students to learn at any time, anywhere, and at their own pace.
Also, extra expenses related to travel, meals, repeated instructor fees, and perhaps equipment being out of commission are totally eliminated.
According to the 2020 Training Industry Report, companies with 100–999 employees spend about $1,678 per employee on training. And VR can cut this number by at least half.
Easier to measure
VR training solutions offer efficient tools for student performance and progress tracking. One of these tools is xAPI — a specification for learning technology that allows for collecting data about how students learn.
With xAPI, businesses can see how students perform, which parts take more or less time to comprehend, how exactly students use educational content, and so on. With such data at hand, it is possible to perform powerful analytics on learning efficiency, automate all reporting routines, and gather any data required to make VR training better.
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.
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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.
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 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.
Tips for Successful VR Training Scenarios
It would not be honest to say that Virtual Reality training is a perfect match for any company and training purpose. It has its drawbacks, along with impressive benefits, which we discussed earlier.
Let’s determine whether AR/VR training might be a match for your company.
Is VR training right for you?
To learn whether the multiple Virtual Reality advantages apply when it comes to training at your company, ask yourself these questions. The answer may indicate whether it is truly a good fit for you.
- Is it important for trainees to manipulate particular kinds of equipment, machinery, or other objects to learn the needed skills? Will training using this equipment take up important physical space required for production?
- Does learning a skill require memorizing a set of consistent steps? This is typical for training that involves specific procedures.
- Will your training solution be associated with learning conversational skills or other soft skills?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, a VR training simulator could be a perfect fit for your business. If you’re not sure that VR training fits you, contact us for a detailed consultation.
If the target skills require using interactive learning methods, or using equipment and physical space, they are likely to be trained better via VR. The same is true for virtual soft skills training, such as participating in challenging or sensitive conversations.
Choosing a reliable vendor
When it comes to building VR solutions, it’s best to first conduct thorough research into the market and find reliable specialists in the field.
Virtual Reality is a rather complex technology that requires experienced developers, designers, business analysts, and other team members. In terms of training, a subject matter expert is a must, too.
We recommend you turn to software development companies that possess expert knowledge in the field. They can provide you with a VR development team of hand-picked specialists, manage the development process and deliverables, and make sure that everything is done according to the best industry and technology standards.
Other facets of developing a training solution that can be done only by professional vendors include:
- Recreating educational scenarios that are truly life-like;
- Updating previously deployed VR scenarios seamlessly;
- Building a feature for tracking user performance;
- Implementing efficient data storage and analytics technologies;
- Integrating a training solution with third-party software, e.g. LXP or LMS systems.
It’s especially important, when creating Virtual Reality for enterprise, to employ only experienced vendors with a number of successful projects under their belt, vendors who have proven they can accomplish complex enterprise-grade software development projects without surprises or disappointments.
Setting training goals
Successful use of Virtual Reality in education depends entirely on setting the right training goals. As you’ve seen from the previous section, VR will best fit your learning solution if you have carefully analyzed your goals and objectives first.
Training goals usually can be divided into three groups:
- Productivity. These business-oriented goals describe what exactly you want to achieve with the training. Do employees have to learn new skills to perform better at their current jobs? Or do you want them to explore new challenges, ethics, or ways of communicating in an interactive way?
- Outcomes. Define what you want your employees to learn in the course. Is it a particular applied skill, or a collection of soft skills?
- KPI. Key Performance Indicators describe what specific expectations a business has for a task or employee. KPIs can measure whether the employee has succeeded in a given task. In VR training, you can also set KPIs for educational tasks.
With all that information at hand, businesses can prepare a well-thought-out plan for VR training implementation and build an efficient solution with a reliable vendor.
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 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.
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When it comes to the backend of the VR training solution, Python and Go are some of the most popular options.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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