Transforming Industrial Training with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: A Comprehensive Guide

As we discussed in a previous blog post, Leveraging VR/AR Technologies to Address Skill Shortages and High Workforce Turnover, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) training offers substantial cost-savings opportunities for manufacturing and industrial enterprises and is a vital tool for addressing the skills gap and high workforce turnover rates affecting these enterprises. In this blog, we delve deeper into the specific applications, benefits, and unique features that make VR and AR indispensable tools for industrial training.

History of VR and AR in Industry Training

The application of VR and AR in industrial training has evolved significantly over the years. Initially, these technologies were primarily used in specialized fields like aerospace and defense. However, as hardware became more affordable and software more sophisticated, VR and AR have found applications across a range of industries, from manufacturing to energy to construction.


  • Early Adoption: Aerospace and defense were among the first to adopt VR and AR for training, given the high-risk nature of these fields.
  • Mainstream Acceptance: As the technology matured, sectors like manufacturing, energy, and construction started integrating VR and AR into their training modules.
  • Current Trends: Today, with the advent of more affordable and user-friendly devices, VR and AR are becoming standard tools for industrial training across various sectors.

Future of VR and AR in Industrial Training

As technology continues to advance, the future of VR and AR in industrial training looks promising. With the advent of 5G, cloud computing, and AI, we can expect even more immersive and interactive training experiences. iQ3Connect is committed to staying at the forefront of these advancements to offer the most effective and engaging training solutions.

Benefits of VR and AR in Industrial Training

Both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) offer a plethora of benefits that make them indispensable tools in industrial training. Here are some key advantages:


  • Safety: Both VR and AR allow for risk-free training in simulated environments, reducing the likelihood of accidents during training.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Virtual training eliminates the need for physical materials and logistics, thereby reducing costs.
  • Efficiency: VR and AR training modules can be easily updated or modified, saving time and resources in the long run.
  • Engagement: The interactive nature of VR and AR increases learner engagement, which in turn improves retention rates.
  • Real-Time Feedback: Both technologies offer real-time analytics and feedback, enabling continuous improvement in training programs.

Virtual Reality (VR) in Industrial Training

In virtual reality (VR), users are fully immersed in a 3D environment, disconnected from the physical world. This complete immersion allows for the display of entire facilities or equipment that wouldn’t fit in a physical space. VR headsets like Oculus Quest 2, Windows Mixed Reality HP Reverb G2, and the HTC Vive family of products are commonly used for this purpose.

Applications for VR in Industrial Training


  • Health, Safety, and Environment Training: Trainees can walk through a digital twin of the facility to identify potential hazards, exit pathways, and safety procedures. Virtually create hazardous situations to test identification and response procedures.
  • Maintenance and Operations Training: Technicians can practice maintenance operations on equipment that is difficult or impractical to physically train with, such as undersea structures. Avoid plant shutdowns by training on a digital mock-up of the equipment instead of the physical equipment.
  • Assembly and Virtual Build: Prepare your workforce for a new product line or train your customers and partners on product assembly before it arrives by practicing assembly operations virtually.
  • General Knowledge: Improve trainee retention by replacing slide decks and videos with interactive and immersive virtual training. 

Augmented Reality (AR) in Industrial Training

In augmented reality (AR), users can see both the real world and the virtual world simultaneously. Devices like the HoloLens and various mobile devices are commonly used for AR applications.

Applications for AR in Industrial Training


  • Health, Safety, and Environment Training: Display virtual information, hazards, exit paths, etc., as a user walks through the physical structure.
  • Field Maintenance and Operations: Display virtual work instructions and operating procedures overlaid on the physical equipment as technicians perform their tasks. Leverage expertise from remote experts for real-time collaboration.
  • Assembly and Virtual Build: Trainees can view virtual work instructions overlaid on the physical object as they assemble the actual structure.
  • Product Knowledge: Improve trainee comprehension of complex products by providing mixed virtual and real-world training environments, combining real-world interaction with virtual overlays of text and graphics.

Technical Specifications for Implementing VR and AR in Industrial Training

When considering the adoption of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) into your industrial training programs, understanding the technical requirements is crucial for effective implementation. Here are some key factors to consider:


1. Hardware Requirements

  • VR and AR Devices: Various headsets and devices are available on the market. It’s essential to choose hardware that aligns with your training objectives and is compatible with your chosen software solution. As a device agnostic platform, iQ3Connect is compatible with nearly all VR, AR, PC, and mobile devices. 
  • Computing Power: While many solutions require high-performance computers with robust graphics cards, iQ3Connect’s proprietary rendering technology eliminates this need, making the setup more accessible.
  • Network Infrastructure: Many VR and AR solutions require dedicated IT support for managing applications and end-user devices. With solutions like iQ3Connect, which operate through an internet browser, no such management is required.


2. Software Requirements

  • Platform Compatibility: Ensure that the VR or AR software you choose can integrate seamlessly with your existing training management systems.
  • User Interface: Look for software with an intuitive user interface to minimize the learning curve for both trainees and administrators.
  • Content Creation Tools: Some platforms offer built-in tools for creating custom training modules, which can be a significant advantage. Integrated 3D model import and automatic model optimization are critical to ensuring that anyone can create industrial training.


3. Maintenance and Updates

  • Software Updates: With browser-based solutions like iQ3Connect, updates are seamless, requiring no manual intervention, thus keeping the training modules current and secure.


4. Security Considerations

  • Data Encryption: Make sure the platform you choose complies with data protection regulations and uses encryption to secure sensitive information.
  • User Authentication: Features like single sign-on and integrations into access control lists can add an extra layer of security and leverage existing corporate security measures.
  • Data Storage: Application downloads can leave sensitive data stored on local devices and thus vulnerable to unauthorized access or theft.


5. Enterprise/Business Integration

  • Cloud vs. On-premise Deployment: Any practical VR and AR solution must support on-premise (or private data center) installation. However, as enterprises adopt and expand cloud services these solutions must also be cloud compatible.
  • Integrations: Support for business tool integrations (such as email, PLM, LMS, Active Directory, etc.) is vital to fully support broad  and everyday access for global workforces.


Understanding these technical specifications will enable decision-makers to make more informed choices when selecting and implementing VR and AR solutions for industrial training. iQ3Connect’s browser-based platform simplifies many of these considerations, making it an accessible choice for organizations of all sizes.

Final Considerations

Many of the same use cases are suitable for either VR or AR training, and the choice will often depend on the specifics of the use case. However, VR generally offers some consistent benefits over AR, such as ease of training creation and modification, quality of visuals, and cost-effectiveness of headsets. The iQ3Connect Platform makes the VR vs. AR debate less critical when choosing a training solution, as any training or experience created can be used on any device, whether VR, AR, PC, or mobile.


The choice between VR and AR often comes down to the specific needs of the industry and the availability of physical space and equipment. With iQ3Connect, you have the flexibility to choose the best solution for your training needs. Ready to revolutionize your industrial training programs? Contact us today to learn more.

Benefits of VR Training

Explore the benefits of VR training: from accelerated and improved trainee proficiency, to reduced costs, enhanced safety, and data-driven insights

The thinking on how learning can be most effectively achieved has undergone a shift over the last several decades, from an emphasis on passive learning methods (such as lectures and rote memorization) to incorporation of active learning methods (such as group discussions and practice by doing). 


While the importance of active (or experiential) learning has been known for millennia – it was Aristotle who stated “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – the past century of research into psychology, memory, neuroscience, education, etc. has brought it back to the forefront and re-emphasized the importance of experiential learning in everything from K-12 education to professional development and workforce training.  


At a fundamental level, the benefit of virtual reality (VR) training, or any immersive training such as augmented reality (AR) training, is that it enables experiential learning for a much larger audience, for many more types of training, and at a drastically reduced cost compared to real-world, hands-on training experiences. 


Additionally, VR training provides trainees the ability to learn from anywhere at any time and provides learning opportunities that would be too dangerous, difficult, or expensive in a classroom environment. 


While traditional e-learning (slide decks, videos, online courses, etc.) can provide some of these same benefits, these methods not only lack the realism and immersiveness provided by VR, but more importantly, can’t provide the same level of experiential learning as VR or AR training. 


While the theoretical benefits of VR training may be convincing, the practical benefits to enterprises are even more so. In the below sections, we detail the practical benefits to enterprises achieved by adopting AR and VR training for workforce development.

Accelerated and Improved Trainee Proficiency 

VR training can not only be completed faster than traditional classroom training or e-learning, but VR trainees also perform better than their classroom and e-learning counterparts. 


In a study conducted by PwC, VR learners were 4x faster to train compared to classroom training and 1.5x faster to train compared to e-learning. VR learners were also 40% more confident to apply the skills they had learned compared to those trained in the classroom or via e-learning.


In a study on the effects of virtual reality simulation in emergency evacuation training, it was found that VR trainees performed significantly better (22% more accurate and 7% faster) compared to traditional e-learning 


While much of this accelerated and increased training proficiency is due directly to the technology and methodology, the preferences of trainees also play a significant role. In iQ3Connect surveys of VR trainees, it was found that 95% of them preferred VR training over slide deck and video learning while 76% of them identified immersive interaction with the 3D virtual environment as a critical part of their training experience. 

Reduced Training and Operational Costs

VR training can reduce both the direct and indirect costs of a training program. 


Adopting VR training often means physical training equipment and facilities are no longer required and travel costs are eliminated. For example, in a study by Forrester, manufacturers with mixed reality training reduced consumable usage by 80%, saving $1,000 per trainee. Overall, manufacturers were able to reduce training time by 75% at an average savings of $30 per labor hour. 


The combination of remote virtual training and faster time to train mean that instructors can support more trainees more efficiently. The same Forrester study highlights a life sciences manufacturer who slashed one-to-one training costs while improving learning by replacing the high-cost training with more effective immerse technology. Moreover, in an assessment of direct training costs for emergency evacuation training, it was found that VR training could reduce training costs by 50% over a 3-year period.


Even more impactfully, adopting VR training leads to a myriad of cost benefits associated with improved trainee performance (fewer on-the-job incidences, increased productivity, etc.). In a whitepaper by Intel, that took in account the cost savings from fewer on-the-job incidents, they estimated that their first VR-based training has a 5-year ROI of 300%. 

Workplace Safety Improvements and Risk Reduction

VR training improves workplace safety and reduces overall risk in numerous ways. 


First, by virtualizing certain training scenarios, a safe environment is created where a trainee can practice and learn without the safety risks that would accompany real-world errors and mistakes. This is why pilots, for example, train in simulators. 


This approach is just as applicable to manufacturing and industrial companies. 


Secondly, VR training provides opportunities for trainees to react and address hazards that are too risky, costly, or infeasible to recreate physically. For manufacturing companies, this approach is often used for VR safety training where trainees must navigate through a virtual facility to identify and address hazards. 


Workplace safety is also improved by better on-the-job performance of VR trainees. In their whitepaper, Intel estimated that their electrical safety training would reduce on-the-job incidents by 28%. 

Remote Accessibility with Team Collaboration

By virtualizing learning and development, VR training enables a global and diverse workforce to have instant access to quality training material regardless of their location. Yet this remote accessibility doesn’t have to come at the cost of team collaboration – a single VR training can easily accommodate multiple training modes. 


When taken as a single-user, on-demand experience, VR training offers trainees flexibility, yet this same experience can be structured as a multi-user, instructor-led training, fostering team collaboration across the globe without the travel costs and logistical challenges. It is estimated that by replacing onsite training sessions with remote VR training, travel costs can be reduced by over $1,000 per trainee per trip. 


A Fortune 500 company in the semiconductor industry is leveraging instructor-led multi-user VR training to enable an instructor to simultaneously train 10-15 technicians across the globe. This solution not only reduced the costs and challenges of coordinating international travel, but minimized business disruptions during the pandemic shutdowns. 

Data-Driven Performance Insights

VR training offers unrivaled in-depth data capture on trainee performance which businesses can use to optimize training methods and improve training outcomes. 


Unlike in-person training, VR training can seamlessly capture metrics from every action to provide unparalleled insight into trainee skill and knowledge gaps. This data can not only be used to help improve individual trainee outcomes, but can also be aggregated to provide important insights into the overall performance of the training program, enabling identification of areas for improvement.


VR training offers substantial benefits over both in-person/hands-on training and traditional e-learning (slide decks, videos, online course, etc.).


Virtual reality-based training is proven to accelerate and enhance proficiency, reduce training costs, enhance workplace safety and reduce risks, foster team collaboration with remote accessibility, and provide for data-driven performance insights that not only help improve individual trainee outcomes but help to improve the training program as a whole. 

It is also easier and more cost-effective than ever to get started with VR training for a more productive, safe, and efficient training process. iQ3Connect is enabling companies to experience these benefits without any need for large hardware investments, painful  IT setup, or extensive user training. Check out some sample VR experiences or talk to one of iQ3Connect’s team members about how VR training can be deployed.

What is VR Training?

Explore what VR training is, its benefits, and its use in industry

Virtual Reality (VR) training, at its most fundamental, is an immersive e-learning experience occurring within a three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment. It is commonly described as a way to digitally simulate lifelike scenarios for training purposes, enabling trainees/instructors to visualize and interact with the virtual environment (whether tools, machinery, or other trainees/instructors) in a physically realistic manner. 


What’s often overlooked, however, is the additional value provided by VR training in its ability to supplement and enhance training scenarios in inherently artificial ways that ultimately serve to improve context and comprehension. 


In the manufacturing industry, for example, VR training is used to train new employees on proper safety procedures and to train new technicians on assembly processes by digitally simulating the real-world environment. This lifelike simulation is further enhanced by strictly virtual components such as spatial text, contextual real-time hints, and other means of feedback and interaction that serve to improve comprehension and knowledge retention. 


VR training can be used to visualize and interact with objects in ways that are impossible in the real-world – whether visualizing the inner components of an engine in operation or interacting with molecules scaled up to the size of basketballs. This combination of realism and artificialism offers unique opportunities for anyone to learn about complex topics in an intuitive way. 


It is this unique opportunity that explains why VR training is used extensively in industries as diverse as construction, healthcare, and manufacturing and for use cases as varied as surgery, virtual assembly and maintenance, health and safety, and general knowledge.

Benefits of VR Training

VR training can offer substantial benefits over both in-person/hands-on training and traditional e-learning (slide decks, videos, online course, etc.). 


Unlike in-person classroom training, VR training provides trainees the ability to learn from anywhere at any time and provides opportunities for training that would be too dangerous, difficult, or expensive in a classroom environment. And while traditional e-learning can provide some of these same opportunities, it lacks the realism and immersiveness provided by VR. 


Trainee performance (both in the training and once on the job) and cost (time and money) are often the benchmarks used when evaluating the success of a new training program. In these categories, VR training is well documented to produce substantial benefits. 


In a study conducted by PwC, VR learners were 4x faster to train compared to classroom training and 1.5x faster to train compared to e-learning, while being nearly 40% more confident to apply the skills they had learned. 


Various studies on VR training for emergency evacuations showed that VR training could provide a 50% reduction in training costs over a 3-year period, while VR trainees performed significantly better compared to traditional learning methods. Intel estimates that their first VR training has a 5-year ROI of 300% and will reduce electrical safety incidents by 28%. 


It may be helpful to understand how and why VR training can produce such benefits over more traditional learning methods. 


At a fundamental level, VR training is a more engaging experience both physically and mentally, leading to a more active learner and more knowledge retention. iQ3Connect surveys of trainees found that 95% of them preferred VR training over slide deck and video learning with 76% of them identifying immersive interaction with the 3D virtual environment as a critical part of their training experience. 

Understanding Virtual Reality (VR) 

The term VR training is used in this article as Virtual Reality (VR) is one of the most commonly known terms, the other being Augmented Reality (AR), the defines a subset of immersive technologies along the reality-virtuality continuum – a term that encompasses all technologies operating along a spectrum from the real-world at one end to the completely virtual world at the other end. 


Extended Reality (XR) is generally used as the catch-all term for the set of technologies within this reality-virtuality continuum and is most commonly broken down into 3 categories: 

  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Mixed Reality (MR) 


As technology has progressed, the distinction between these categories has blurred to the point that they may be approaching obsolescence. For the moment, however, distinct definitions may be helpful to understand the differing levels of immersion (i.e. completely virtual to blended virtual/real). Know that there is much overlap and clear distinctions are becoming rarer. 


Virtual Reality (VR): is a 3D, completely virtual environment that immerses the user in the virtual world. The user has no visual of the real world. 


Augmented Reality (AR): is a blend of the real world and virtual, achieved by overlaying virtual objects onto the real world. The user can see both the real world and the virtual simultaneously. This is most commonly experienced in mobile AR apps (think of placing virtual furniture into an actual room), but AR glasses/headsets are also prevalent.


Mixed Reality (MR): is defined differently depending on the source. All sources agree that mixed reality is a blend of the real world and virtual. Some use the terms AR and MR interchangeably while others argue that there are important distinctions between AR and MR involving how the virtual and physical worlds interact with one another. A select few argue that MR is the entirety of the reality-virtuality spectrum encompassing both VR and AR, and thus use MR as the catch-all term for immersive technology. 


To summarize, VR is reserved for completely virtual experiences, AR and MR are generally used for blended virtual and real-world experiences, while XR is used to refer to them all. 


But as the technology continually evolves, terminology will change and the capabilities offered within each category will continue to bend and alter the definitions. 


Many devices, and some software, on the market are no longer exclusive to VR or AR as they can support various levels of immersion. For example, devices advertised as VR headsets are offering MR experiences by enabling external cameras to pass live video feeds of the real world to the user’s display, enabling a merging of the virtual and physical. 


When considering VR training, it will be of greater importance to pay attention to specific capabilities of the hardware and software to ensure alignment with one’s objectives, as opposed to relying on VR, AR, MR, or XR labels. In fact, this article, due to public perception and popular understanding of immersive technology, has been using the term VR training exclusively, even though AR, MR, and XR are equally applicable in this context.  

Implementation of VR Training in Industry

It is well documented that companies such as Applied Materials, Boeing, Bosch, Ford, LG, Schlumberger, etc. have successfully implemented VR training programs.


These companies, despite coming from a diverse set of industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, semiconductor, and oil and gas, all faced similar challenges when trying to train and upskill a large global workforce: increasing costs, a drive toward sustainability, and a goal for improved training outcomes. Yet, they have approached VR training implementation in different ways to meet their unique circumstances. 


For a large manufacturing company, the time and costs associated with travel (most of it international) for onsite technician training was becoming unsustainable. Additionally, providing the training department with equipment on which to train, even when drastically simplified from production models, was costing well over $1,000,000. 


To reduce travel and physical equipment costs, they deployed VR training in the form of multi-user virtual classrooms, enabling an instructor to simultaneously teach 10-15 technicians, remotely, on a digital twin of the physical equipment. 


For a company in the consumer electronics market, their implementation of an e-learning curriculum wasn’t achieving the desired results in terms of trainee performance once on the job.


They extended their traditional e-learning offering by incorporating self-paced VR training directly into their LMS platform. These VR training experiences offer self-guided training, accessible on either a VR headset or PC/mobile device, that provide a more realistic and experiential learning environment, leading to improved knowledge retention and on-the-job performance. 


Regardless of the exact approach, VR training has been used in industry for training use cases such as plant safety, product knowledge, product assembly, appliance repair and maintenance, onboarding of sales & marketing personnel, facility operations, etc. 

Overcoming Barriers to VR Training Adoption

There are typically three barriers that inhibit companies from adopting VR training at scale: cost, deployment and accessibility, and hardware requirements: 


Cost – whether outsourcing VR training creation or leveraging internal resources, the historic need of expert users to author VR training content has often meant large budgets are required.


Deployment and accessibility – once created, VR training must be deployed throughout an organization and made accessible to end-users. Traditionally, this has meant the creation of a VR-lab/training center or packaging a VR training as an app that must be downloaded.


Hardware requirements – VR training has historically required that end-users use specific VR devices, meaning that adopting VR training throughout an organization often requires a dedicated hardware strategy.


However, with the right technology, proper planning, and stakeholder support, these barriers can easily be overcome:


Reducing costs– a large manufacturing company placed responsibility for VR training creation directly into the hands of their instructors and subject matter experts (SMEs). By leveraging iQ3Connect’s no-code VR authoring tools, they could eliminate the need for dedicated developers and outside vendors and were thus able to streamline the training creation process. Their instructors and SMEs are now able to create VR training as quickly as they could a slide deck. 


Frictionless secure deployment and seamless user access – eliminating the need to package VR training as an app that must be downloaded, a Global 500 company in the oil & gas industry used the iQ3Connect platform to make VR training directly accessible on their internal network via a URL link. End users needed only a web browser to access the training. Data security was ensured by leveraging their single sign-on to authenticate users and only allowing internal network access.


No hardware requirements – enterprises from many industries have used iQ3Connect to eliminate VR hardware requirements. Their VR training modules are being made accessible to end users on any AR, VR, PC, or mobile device, eliminating the need for a corporate-wide VR hardware strategy and allowing departments to use the hardware that best matches their circumstances.

The Future of VR Training

Less than a decade ago, VR training regularly cost $500,000 to $1,000,000 for a first deployment. Today, thanks to advancements in the consumer market for VR hardware, standardization of XR technology, and revolutions in XR software, an initial VR training deployment could cost less than $10,000. 


This drastic cost reduction, coupled with the availability of VR hardware and support for non-VR hardware, is opening up new use cases and applications for VR training and making it cost effective to deploy VR training throughout an organization. 


Moreover, workforces are becoming more globalized, culture is shifting toward hybrid work, and business objectives are being focused on sustainability. These trends, coupled with a drastic skills shortage in the labor force that will increase the demands for training, mean that VR training will be of paramount importance to ensuring industrial companies remain competitive and profitable.


As you start to consider the adoption of VR training, keep in mind some of the traditional barriers to adoption, which might not be obvious in the pilot phase. 


Scaling VR training solutions is where many of the challenges arise. However, iQ3Connect is geared to allow organizations to easily overcome the barriers of cost, deployment and access, and hardware requirements, even at scale. Check out some sample VR experiences or talk to one of iQ3Connect’s team members about how VR training can be deployed. 


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