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Is Enterprise VR  the Technology Trend for 2021?

When the pandemic hit in the first half of 2020, businesses were fast to adopt digital ways of work. Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams for workshops, Google meet for seminars have become the norm for how we conduct our daily business. Or is it?

Digital meeting technology doesn’t provide a workable solution for people whose job involves operating in risky, remote or rate operational environments. Think about an offshore wind technician deploying 100km offshore on their first day at work, to climb a wind turbine the same size as the Eiffel tower. What about a helicopter winchman preparing to rescue an injured hiker in the mountains, or a UN peacekeeper preparing to lead patrols to maintain the peace in a war-ravaged country. 

COVID has caused a paradigm shift towards remote working tools. The continued expansion of the digital workplace and the tools needed to enable it now seems inevitable, but what is the solution for front line workers? 

Where can business leaders look to for guidance on how to prepare their employees in this unpredictable world? I believe the answer is the simulation industry who have been leveraging virtual reality and augmented reality to deliver simulation training for decades as a way to replicate risky, remote and difficult to replicate scenarios. 

Until recently, simulation training was often reserved for high value roles like pilots, surgeons, or astronauts who trained in “sim centres”. These sim centres had traditional simulators with complicated hydraulics and expensive replicas of the real world equipment. There is now a rapid shift occurring in simulation training towards providing virtual reality simulation at the point of need. The training is contained in a VR headset that can be used remotely, removing the need for people to travel to one location to train together. 

The added value of VR simulation training is that its inherent data capture capability can be used to provide deep insights into how individuals learn and perform. The addition of physiological sensors can allow you to know not just what people do, but also how they feel when they do it. These data driven insights can transform our ability to reduce risk for our employees and ensure they are confident in performing the tasks that they will face in reality. 

The shift towards immersive virtual simulation training was happening in the military prior to COVID-19, but it has now begun to accelerate as it is not an option for a military to be unprepared. Military commanders consider that they have a “duty of care” to train and prepare their troops appropriately, anything else would be a dereliction of duty. 

This duty of care must now also extend from business executives to ensure their employees are prepared remotely in authentic, memorable and measurable simulated environments. The technology is now there to enable it, our employees safety demands that we use it. 

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