What is AR/VR?!?

This is a guest post from Dale Street.

It’s everywhere. It’s the latest rage. Social media, the news, your grandmother, everyone is talking about it... AR/VR

It’s so big that Greg Beaubien from the Public Relations Society of America asserts that “a quarter of millennials and Gen Z workers want their employers to incorporate virtual-reality and augmented-reality technologies into the workplace, for training and other purposes.”

AR/VR is “the next big thing” that will “change the way we live.” But, what the heck is it?

AR/VR is Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Both use technology to change “reality” or really your learner’s perception of reality. While they are similar, the two are quite different and often confused.  Let’s take a look at each.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment.  In the world of learning, it’s the ability to have your learner interact with a particular environment or thing in a seemingly real or physical way without actually having to put your learner in that environment or give them access to that particular thing. Essentially, VR creates or simulates an entire environment or object for a learner to explore. The environment or object can be created by capturing 360 video of a location, or by using modeling to simulate the location with graphics. Typically, learners would use “googles” like Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, or Samsung Gear VR to block out their world and fully experience the VR environment.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, is a technology that places or lays a computer-generated image or information on a user's true view of the real world. Your learners are still seeing their current environment but with additional items or information. A great example of this would be Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters, or Microsoft HoloLens. While a user is still seeing their true environment, their view is “enhanced” with information, graphics, and more.

Still Confused?

To give you a good analogy, in VR your learner can experience what it might look and feel like to jump out of an airplane from the comfort of their home, while in AR your learner would instead see stats on altitude and speed while actually skydiving. While slightly different, one is not necessarily better than the other.

How can AR/VR be used in training?

There are so many different use cases. Here are just a few…

  1. Retail - Let’s pretend you are hiring a new manager for your retail store, and you need to train them to properly merchandise your store. Wouldn’t it be great if they were able to pop on a VR headset and follow prompts to merchandise a virtual store?
  2. Technicians - Technician positions can be tough, regardless of the industry. Heights, cellars, animals, ladders, you can imagine all the things they have to interact with every day. Attrition can often be high in this type of work since employees don’t always know what they are getting into. Wouldn’t it be great to ensure that a new hire was really going to be ok with the type of work by experiencing it first-hand in VR? Think of the cost savings!
  3. Sales - A lot of sellers have to memorize ever changing information, carry around technical manuals, or constantly search for information on their phone, or laptop. How wonderful would it be if they had an AR solution that allowed them to scan an object and  all that information was then projected on a surface to share on-demand with their customer?