Virtual reality (VR) used to be associated with gaming and other entertainment uses. A corporate world wasn’t taking it seriously. Any innovations in the virtual reality technology were estimated as next toys or fantasies.
However, when the advantages of VR technology became obvious for many industries, the world realized its great potential. Even though entertaining still plays a significant part in VR innovations, immersive technology has found its application among serious aspects of our life.
Regardless VR has been known for over 30 years; virtual reality technology is only gaining momentum within both commercial and enterprise application.
With the increasing performance of computers and emerging immersive VR hardware like Oculus Rift, employees can quickly get the necessary experience with the VR training perspective.
Top managers working in dangerous industries, like nuclear power, strive to ensure employees to know safety regulations and other standards to minimize potential risks.
A well-trained specialist can detect potential problems before they occur and prevent a company from spending huge amounts of resources to deal with the consequences.
That’s why VR safety training means a lot for every industry and, especially, for high-risk jobs. Whatever your employees do, they all should possess necessary knowledge to be prepared for the potential risks they might face.
Benefits of virtual reality in training and education
To train specialists properly for hard situations at work, top managers should turn towards modern technologies like virtual reality.
Virtual reality has managed to change greatly the way large enterprises train their workers. The technology has made it possible to put specialists in nearly any situation or location we could only imagine. VR provides them with a possibility to safely interact with virtual objects without putting these or any other people at any risk.
According to the 70:20:10 model, 70% of what people learn comes from experiments rather than typical classes. Thus, the most effective learning method is learning by doing.
VR enables companies to create scenarios in which team members can learn how to avoid negative consequences at their work by applying their theoretical knowledge in virtual environments.
This lets them safely make mistakes and then make correct conclusions. Since experiential learning is an aspect that is hard to deliver in most enterprises, the benefits of virtual reality in education and training is hard to overestimate.
When it comes to jobs where stressful situations are rather usual work conditions, for example, pilots, VR helps students get used to such environments and learn correct behavior without a risk to crash a plane or even compromise their lives.
A future police officer can train on how to handle robberies or rescue hostages in a virtual environment.
Essentially, using virtual reality employees can get precious training experience and become ready for any unexpected situation before they even start practicing their skills in the real environment.
Let’s talk more about how VR can be used for training people for high-risk situations.
How safety-critical industries apply virtual reality training
Safety-critical industries face risks in their daily tasks. Moreover, these risks are related not only to their property but also to lives of their employees or any other people. For instance, a fireman has a safety critical job.
The medical staff is also safety-critical employees. Treating people is also related to severe risks of damaging patient’s health, failing to fight a particular disease, or even compromising their lives.
Therefore, therapists, surgeons, and other medical specialists have to be prepared for any occasion to be able to save human lives.
When it comes to practice, typical medical training is always related to high risks. VR has made it possible for future doctors to train their skills in virtual environments rather than on real patients or even cadavers which are a quite rare resource.
Due to virtual reality, pilots are now capable of not only learning to push necessary buttons in fake planes but also simulate real air battle scenarios.
The military is an industry where human lives are only digits on a paper. Even though a soldier has surpassed through proper training, it doesn’t guarantee he will survive a battle since a targeted missile wipes out the borders of psychological stability, strength, skills, and braveness.
However, well-trained soldiers surely have much more chances to survive a battle. Despite proper physical training and high shooting skills, the very first bullet whistling sound above the head makes recruits forget what they’ve learned.
It is why real battle situations are that important for recruit training. However, they put inexperienced soldiers at an extreme risk they may not even survive.
For this reason, recruits used to be trained through video games to make training maximally close to real situations. However, video games cannot offer the realism of experience of a tangible and hands-on sense of virtual reality simulation.
The military is increasingly turning to immersive technologies to efficiently prepare recruits for fighting and minimize a tragic human cost.
There currently are some use cases of how governments apply virtual reality to train recruits for real battles:
- Experts at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center use virtual reality to train recruits to detect underground explosives and anti-tank mines. Their Husky Mounted Detection System (HMDS) helps soldiers perfect their skills without putting them at risk.
- The U.S. Air Force used virtual reality to simulate an emergency medicine delivery from an airfield in Afghanistan to a medical center in Germany under cover of special forces. This simulation helped experts to train critical care skills of physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists.
- British army uses virtual reality to recruit future soldiers putting candidates into a virtual battlefield where recruits drive tanks and do different military exercises.
Furthermore, NASA uses VR to prepare astronauts for space travel. The virtual reality technology enables astronauts to learn how to return to their spacecraft, how to manipulate the space station’s robotic arm, and how to deal with payloads in zero gravity.
Construction is always related to risks: incorrect calculations can lead to fallen constructions, ignoring safety rules can lead to severe traumas or even death, etc.
That’s why a US-based construction and engineering company called Bechtel decided to use virtual reality to train its builders. Through a partnership with the HCS company, Bechtel focuses on improving safety by preventing injuries and making training closer to real-life situations on a construction field.
Their VR training program involves many different scenarios like hazard identification, forklift training, scaffolding training, and ironworker training.
Construction is often about working at a high altitude. When being frightened by a dangerous environment, workers can lose their concentration on work or even make a fatal mistake that can cost them their health or even life.
Thus, with the help of virtual reality putting builders at real work scenarios, Bechtel helps their employees get used to dangerous conditions and perfect their skills to ensure a high level of safety in the construction field.
Virtual reality has been widely used in pilot training. Flight simulators help future pilots quickly learn to operate a plane without putting passengers at risk and potential damage to a machine itself.
But Boeing took a step further and created real airplane cockpits, plane mock-ups with windows replaced with displays. It helps pilots learn flying a plane while actually sitting in a real plane.
Since such airplane cockpits are quite expensive training tools, simulating piloting a plane with head-mounted displays and controllers allows creating a realistic virtual experience that accurately replicates a real flight process including the sound of the engine and feedback from the virtual machine.
Each surgery comes with a high level of risk of doing something wrong or occurring unexpected situations that can lead to serious damage to a patient’ health or even death.
Minimizing those risks and managing surgical complications are those tasks surgeons face in their everyday work. That’s why numerous medical institutions are turning towards VR to enable medical students to conduct complex operations before they even enter a real operating room.
Virtual reality has proved to be a reliable, safe, and efficient instrument of medical staff training. 360-degree surgery videos like the streamed surgery conducted by Shafi Ahmed allows students to participate in real operations and get quickly acclimatized to stressful situations.
The use of immersive and interactive VR technology along with high-end visualization instruments allows trainers to create various scenarios in which medical students can safely apply all learned information without putting patients at risk.
Combining realistic visualization with motion sensors and controllers, medical students in virtual reality can learn how to properly manipulate surgical tools and receive real-time feedback on their actions, for example, in the form of virtual bleeding in case of student’s wrong actions.
Virtual simulations prepare students for complicated operations, significantly reduce the risks of fatal errors when conducting surgeries, and provide advanced opportunities for educating patients about medical procedures as well as post-surgical treatment and recovery.
Using virtual reality for training employees for high-risk situations provides valuable benefits for all dangerous jobs. VR training has already become a widespread training tool across various industries.
When it comes to highlighting the major advantages of virtual reality development for training purposes, its potential is hard to overestimate. When employees are properly trained, there will obviously be much fewer accidents and deaths.
Furthermore, with well-trained team members, companies will spend much less on leveraging occurred accidents and eliminating the negative consequences of crashed planes, destroyed buildings, or damaged properties.
Better safety means fewer production delays, better employee satisfaction, and loyalty, as well as reduced insurance costs.