February 21, 2020

Learning Technologies Conference 2020 – what did we learn about VR & AR training this year?

I had the pleasure of attending Learning Technologies last week, excited to “take the temperature” on VR / AR for training and learning.

My initial reaction was surprise as to the lack of VR demos on stands which had become a bit of a trade show must in 2019.  Had the VR bubble burst? Was this the dawning of a new era? After much discussion with a large variety of companies the rationale as to the lack of VR headsets fell into three broad opinions:

  1. The VR gimmick has had its day
  2. AR is the future
  3. The market has now matured, people are actively asking about VR / AR solutions but from a more informed point of view.

Interestingly each of these resonate with new business conversations I have each week. VR has most certainly had its period of being a gimmick and was set to be the next big thing for several years. Early predictions fell short and a few people had their fingers – or rather their budgets – burnt by wanting to “do something in VR” without having a strategy or business case. We now see a shift in people wanting to use the tech because they see their competitors successfully implementing immersive solutions. The belief is there as are the use cases, to demonstrate that immersive technology is indeed the direction of travel for many businesses.

One of the key barriers to entry for deploying an immersive technology solution has been the initial budget required to fund a project. With AR, hardware requirements (if using existing mobiles and tablets) are significantly reduced which has increased the uptake of this technology. For us, when starting conversations with clients the most important question is not whether it is going to be VR or AR, it is what business problem are you looking to solve. There are clear cases when AR is the most appropriate technology, for example an graphical overlay for an engineer. Similarly, training teams on a dangerous scenario is best done in VR. It is not a case of which tech is cheaper, it is which technology can best solve your business challenge.

With more and more businesses sharing their experiences of using immersive technologies for training and even some impressive ROI statistics, business case sign off for immersive becomes more achievable. However, for many, knowing that the future is immersive and seeing the competition reap the benefits does not necessarily mean it is clear to them how to start their own immersive technology training journey.  This can be a daunting position but as with all big changes we defer to the proverb: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”

To address this challenge, we recommend that the first three steps are:

  1. Start small 
  2. Looking at your key pain points
  3. Exploring whether VR/AR can help to solve all or part of the challenge

If you are looking to start your journey into immersive learning and would some help along the way please get in touch – we can help analyse your pain points, explore potential solutions and help build a business case for you with our ROI calculator.  One step at a time.