by Timothy Johnson, Lead Software Engineer and Architect at Scitent
Virtual reality (VR) – the computer-generated 3D environments that simulate rich, real-life experiences using special electronic equipment – is a growing trend in consumer electronics and is heightening the customer or viewer experience.
You may have heard the recent news that two competing high-end headsets are being released to consumers this spring, both the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and the Steam-powered HTC Vive. Additionally, Samsung is giving away its Gear VR headset when you order one of their latest Galaxy S7-series smartphones. Google is also working on its own VR technology and Microsoft is getting into the VR game, as well. (Apple has thus far been publicly quiet about its own foray into VR.)
Virtual reality is also showing up in our everyday life. In February, the Daytona 500 was broadcast in VR, offering viewers three different perspectives of the race course. You can even use VR apps to take a tour of a museum around the globe, experience an extreme sport like skydiving or explore the underwater world without ever leaving home.
On the surface, it may sound like science fiction, but this technology has some promising and interesting applications for eLearning companies.
Within the next few years, many pundits are predicting that VR, along with its sister technology – augmented reality (the superimposition of a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world) – will make a big play in eLearning.
These technologies not only save a company and its workforce time and money, but they also enhance retention. Any time you engage as many senses as possible, you can improve learner comprehension.
VR is particularly helpful in teaching hard skills by enabling companies to train employees on physical tasks – like oil rig drilling – without having to actually be on-site. We have seen demos since 2007 of BMW training its mechanics using AR to augment their knowledge in real-time. [wpdevart_youtube]P9KPJlA5yds[/wpdevart_youtube]
Soft skills can also be effectively taught through VR. For example, one company has created a scene that simulates a public speaking environment so workers can practice their presentation in front of an audience before delivering it live. Through future integrations with artificial intelligence, this environment could even evaluate and give feedback on the quality of the speech.
Medical training is another place where we see applications for VR. Doctors performing surgery in a VR world can really experiment with different techniques and body systems before conducting them in real life.
2016 is the year that VR takes off. Is your eLearning company ready?
Have another way to use VR in eLearning, or have a question for Tim Johnson? Leave a comment or question below.
Timothy Johnson is the Lead Software Engineer and Architect at Scitent, Inc. He leads a team of front-end and back-end developers, solving architectural issues to enable his team to meet ever changing learning environments.