How to select a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training?

How to select a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training

Is a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training different from the ones used for gaming? There are many VR headsets available in the market. How do I select a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training?

These are common questions from industrial trainers trying to implement an immersive training experience. This article attempts to answer some of these key questions.

A VR headset is required for an immersive experience in virtual reality. The proper selection of a VR headset for quality training is vital. Here are some of the parameters to select a VR headset for Industrial Product Training. We can group them into three primary categories.

  1. Immersion
  2. Comfort
  3. Pricing

Immersion: This characteristic represents the natural feeling of presence in a virtual space. A good quality immersive experience is a must in industrial training to provide a technically accurate life-like experience. 

The key factors in determining the quality of immersion are:

  • Positional Tracking.
  • Hand and eye-tracking
  • Degrees of Freedom
  • FOV: Field of View
  • Display Resolution
  • Controller Design
  • Sound

Positional Tracking As the name suggests, sensors track the headset position and orientation as well as those of the handheld controllers in the physical space. External sensors are used in outside-in tracking, while integrated cameras are used in cases of inside-out tracking. Fast positional tracking is required to avoid a time lag between the virtual and physical space. In outside-in tracking systems, cameras are placed in the corners of a room. This gives the best accuracy for room-scale experiences but requires a complex setup and calibration process. For an industrial trainer, inside-out Tracking is easier and more practical since no external trackers or equipment are required beyond the headset and controllers, and is useable in a small sitdown space. The Oculus Quest 2 and HP Reverb G2 are two examples of inside-out tracking, whereas HTC Vive and Valve Index use room-scale outside-in tracking with external sensors arranged in a dedicated VR room.

Hand and eye-tracking: The other factors in determining the quality of immersion are hand tracking and eye-tracking. Hand tracking, as the name suggests, tracks the movement of hands to give the virtual reality hand movements and commands like clicks, swipes, etc can be done with gestures. When hand tracking is not available, hand controllers are used. (Read our blog “Put down controller, hand tracking is coming”) Eye-tracking helps optimize the rendering of the content in the central region of the eye gaze. Eye-tracking and hand tracking are available in higher-end VR headsets. Hand tracking and eye tracking can make the VR training experience more realistic. With eye-tracking, a VR headset will render a foveated image that is sharper and more realistic in the center of the field of view. For example, if a user is interacting with a mechanical engine model, rendering of the parts where the user is interacting with hands and eyes will be displayed at a higher resolution than the surrounding objects.

Degrees of Freedom (DoF) is another important parameter that defines the quality of immersion. Three DoF tracks the rotation in space, but not position, whereas six DoF tracks the rotation and position fully capturing physical movement. In six DoF, the positions as Up/Down, Left/Right, Forward/Backward movement is also available apart from the rational movement. Taking the earlier example of an engine, a technician will not only be able to go around the engine but can also move closer or further away.

Field of View (FOV). This is the extent of observable view for a user inside the headset. A larger FOV gives a more realistic immersive experience just like a human with an unrestricted view in the physical world. Higher FOV also implies higher resolution and more graphics power required to drive the headset. Most standard headsets like Oculus, HTC Vive, etc. have FOV ranging from 90o-100o, and high-end headsets like the Valve Index have FOVs of 140o, Varjo has FOV of 115o, and PRIMAX 8K has a FOV of 180o.

Display:  A high-resolution display is essential to give a realistic, immersive experience in the virtual world. Lower resolutions result in a pixelated view of objects in the virtual space. High-end headsets have separate displays for each eye to provide the highest resolution per eye in a compact form factor. Displays come in multiple types such as LCD and OLED. OLEDs are thinner making less bulky VR headsets. Higher resolution displays also require higher-end graphics cards and computing power. 

Controllers are essential to control the movement and interactions in the immersive experience, especially to virtualize hands-on interaction from complex industrial training. Controllers are wirelessly connected to the VR headset or driving PC, and movement in the physical space is translated to objects in the immersive virtual environment. For example, a user may grab a virtual object and move it around using controller buttons and movement. Controllers are represented by virtual models of hands, controller 3D models, and many times by 3D tools in virtual space. Advanced VR headsets have started incorporating hand tracking where controllers can be replaced by hand natural movements in the virtual environment.

Sound– Last but not least, the 3D spatial sound makes a huge difference to the immersive experience. All high-end VR headsets have built-in headphones with microphones for a surround sound experience.

Headset Comfort-  A typical user may use a VR headset anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on the application. Therefore it is very important to pay attention to the comfort of a user. Time lag, eye fatigue, and cognitive load can result in extended periods of motion sickness. The following factors should be considered when choosing a VR headset.

  • Weight, Fit, and Cushion
  • Untethered or Tethered
  • Pricing

Weight, Fit, and Cooling are essential factors to consider for the user’s comfort. VR headsets with LCD panels are typically bulky. A VR headset should also have a space to accommodate the spectacles of a user. It should also give the option to adjust the fit with a knob at the back of the head. Some VR headsets have an elastic headband or soft straps e.g. Oculus Quest 2 has fabric head straps.

Untethered or Tethered

A tethered headset requires a connection to a computer with high processing power. VR content as gaming required tethered headsets to give a superior experience. With less computing power, images may be more pixelated and less convincing.

iQ3Connect works both with tethered and Untethered VR Headsets. Just load the URL in a browser and experience the interactive 3D models.

HTC Vive, Oculus Rift are examples of tethered VR headsets. Pico G2, Oculus Quest 2 are examples of untethered VR headsets.

Pricing: The VR headset of the popular models ranges from $399 to $1000 USD. Oculus Quest 2, the VR headset with the highest market share costs around $399, HP Reverb Pro around $649, and Valve Index on the higher end of $999. The pricing depends on the features provided by the VR headset and the utility of the headset for the user and organization. Take your pick and start an immersive experience for your organization.

If you need our help on How to select a VR headset for Industrial Product Virtual Reality Training? feel free to contact us for more information or to get a free trial with full support.

iQ3Connect selected as “First 50” Startups for LGNova Mission for the Future

We are happy to announce iQ3Connect is selected in the first official “First 50” group of startups by LGNova. The LGNova Startup cohort represents innovations in industries that will have the most immediate impact on society now and in the future. Equipped with access to LG global network’s expertise, mentorship, and capital, the startups will collaborate with LG NOVA’s incubation team.

“These companies represent the top of the diverse pool of innovative ideas and companies who applied to our Mission for the Future challenge to address the challenges facing our community. In these companies, we see great potential opportunities to explore transformative changes that will take our commitment of innovating for a better life to the next phase,” said LG NOVA Head Dr. Sokwoo Rhee, senior vice president for innovation at LG Electronics.

Read the full press release

VR Training: Common myths and truths

Myths of VR Training

Here are some of the common myths on VR training and the truth behind it.

1. VR training is equivalent to using Zoom or Microsoft Teams for training.

#Truth: There are key differences.

VR training immerses a trainee in an immersive interactive experience with 3D content. The interaction is on one to one scale and realistic, giving the trainee an experience closest to interacting with the real environment. Zoom and Microsoft Teams are screen-sharing applications where a trainer may share documents, videos, or an application such as CAD to show 3D models on a flat-screen. In a virtual reality collaboration platform like iQ3Connect, each participant can interact independently with the virtual content, avatars of virtual participants, and a virtual instructor. VR training is the most realistic simulation of the training is like a virtual classroom. The participants can interact live with the 3D models, components, and features such as chat, whiteboard, and annotations. Imagine enabling an engineer to learn to disassemble a complex valve with hundreds of components in a virtual space from anywhere. Imagine an instructor’s ability to train a group of technicians to maintain a diesel generator engine in real-time. This real-time interaction available to every participant in collaborative VR training is impossible with flat-screen sharing applications.

2. VR training can be boring and isolated, which detracts from the learning experience.

#Truth: VR training provides a much more focused learning environment.

VR training can be engaging and provide an unmatched learning experience to a trainee that cannot be matched by any other digital learning approach dollar for dollar. It has been proven beyond any doubt that an immersive and interactive learning experience results in better retention. (reference PWC report). The VR experience of presence created by avatars and freedom to explore a virtual world has proven to create less fatigue than web conferencing. In the iQ3Connect’s virtual environment, unlimited participants can join the immersive virtual meetings. Multiple engagement modes are possible in VR training. The VR training can be instructor-led, self-paced, or multiple-user, interacting with the same content. Try some examples of instant VR experience here.

3. VR training can’t use instructional materials in other formats.

#Truth: Existing instructional materials can be very effectively incorporated into a VR learning experience saving time and cost.

Most enterprises have an existing investment in training material such as PDFs, videos, product images, and other multimedia. These can be easily incorporated into your VR training module and broader strategy. On the iQ3Connect platform, such existing content can be uploaded from the dashboard, or referenced via links. The content can then be used in creating VR scenarios using iQ3Connect no-code 3D VR workspace and knowledge capture tools. Watch this video on how to embed multimedia in the iQ3Connect VR training platform

4. VR training is expensive relative to other modalities.

Truth# VR training is more cost-effective. 

Video training content can cost thousands of dollars to develop and has a limited shelf life. Some of the iQ3Connect customers were stuck with outdated training. A video-based training can cost $5000 per minute, and 360 immersive videos can cost three times more. As the benefits of VR training are reasonably well established and understood, there are strategies to cost-effectively leverage VR training. VR training can replace high-touch face-to-face collaboration delivered in physical classrooms and using expensive travel and onsite equipment. In the current business environment of constant business disruptions, VR training provides a far more effective strategy than other remote learning modalities. Now if we stack the costs of travel, infrastructure, lost time, and sustainability requirements, VR training is a modality leadership in any company cannot ignore in their digital transformation portfolio.

5. 3D Content for VR training is complex to create.

Truth# Existing 3D content can be efficiently reused with minimal effort.

Many enterprises don’t realize existing 3D content in CAD drawings, reality capture scans, and 360 videos can be easily imported and used in creating powerful VR experiences with new technologies. There are also several content sites, such as Sketchfab, Turbosquid, and GrabCAD, where ready 3D content is available. To create a VR experience enterprise does not always require 3D artists and game engine programming. 3D content can be complex in its component geometry and number of components. This can easily exceed several thousand parts and millions of triangles rendered in VR devices for industrial models. Optimizing models is a time-consuming task, especially when using game engines for building training experiences. New technology platforms like iQ3Connect offer automated optimization and highly optimized rendering pipelines that can enable non-experts to create VR-ready 3D content on their own on the web. iQ3Connect provides a dashboard where users can manage their content and create reusable VR models at scale. These VR-ready models can be used for product collaboration, training, remote support, and marketing experiences from one unified platform.

6. VR training is expensive to scale. 

Truth# VR based training can be scaled in a cost-effective way

VR training can be expensive to scale because almost all VR solutions built on game engines need programmers, 3D artists, and studios.  Apps built on game engines can be large in terms of file size and hence challenging to deploy to many devices. Especially if there are changes in the content to accommodate modifications in 3D CAD content or other changes however small it may be. Maintenance of training apps can also be expensive since they are more akin to video files. In contrast, there are approaches, like the no-code, web-based, platform as iQ3Connect has developed, that more easily lend themselves to content creation by non-experts. Automatic 3D content optimization that does not require making a priori decisions on simplifying complex 3D content, and frictionless deployment in web browser-based URL links are all possible with iQ3Connect. This approach also lends itself to maintaining a centralized data repository and delivering with link sharing. Content can be updated far more easily while preserving a relatively permanent link to the training modules. A web browser-based approach also serves the content more efficiently and securely on demand rather than in a single massive app download to a device. Finally, a web browser-based approach can also be implemented to be device and ecosystem agnostic making it very cost-effective and future-proof for enterprises.

7. VR hardware has a steep learning curve.

Truth# VR headsets are becoming mainstream with easy access and comfortable use. 

For many employees, thinking about interacting in a virtual world can be overwhelming. Wearing a headset can also seem embarrassing to some. However, everyone we watched enjoyed their first VR experience. It may take a few minutes for the first-time user in the simulated virtual environment to get used to it. VR stakeholders in enterprises must have a well-defined path to introduce new employees to VR sessions. Precautions such as being seated initially, allowing for sufficient space around the VR user, and short initial sessions of a few minutes are a few best practices to ensure that early adopters have the best experience and come back for more. One should avoid roller coaster experiences on the first try. In our experience, most users become pretty comfortable with the VR headset and controllers in an average total time of 30 minutes.

Try free VR training for your organization.

iQ3Connect wins LG NOVA Proto Startup Challenge

iQ3Connect is excited to announce a metaverse project with the LG NOVA team. It’s an excellent opportunity for both organizations to work and explore new possibilities in XR training to promote the use of virtual reality.

The eight winners and four runner-up companies of the LG NOVA Proto Challenge were selected based on their proposed solution for a better life in the areas of connected health, energizing mobility, smart lifestyles, the metaverse, and innovation for impact. These winners and runners-up have been invited to join the “First 50” businesses selected in the global challenge program – creating the first cohort of companies that LG NOVA will work with to build for the future.

Read the full press release on LG Electronics website.

Read the press release and watch the founders speak.

iQ3Connect is a finalist in the 2022 SXSW Pitch Startup Event

SXSW Pitch 2022

SXSW announced the 14th annual SXSW Pitch Finalists representing the most cutting-edge technologies from across the globe at SXSW 2022. iQ3Connect secured a position as a finalist in the Extended Reality & Immersive Technology category. 

iQ3Conenct Inc. CEO, Ali Merchant said, “We are excited to be selected as a finalist in the SXSW Pitch Event. iQ3Connect with its no-code XR software platform is empowering anyone to create, deliver, and engage with immersive content using only a web browser. This will motivate us to move forward with our mission”

SXSW Pitch Event Producer Chris Valentine Said “Since its beginning, SXSW Pitch has significantly helped shape the early-stage venture ecosystem and connected promising companies with the resources they need to thrive. This year’s competition will proudly feature the highest tier of presenting companies in event history, and we are looking forward to seeing how these startups continue to make industry change moving forward.”

The 2022 Pitch event will feature 25 companies on Saturday, March 12, and 20 companies on Sunday, March 13 at the Hilton Austin Downtown. A winner from each category as well as the Best In Show award will be announced during the SXSW Pitch Award Ceremony on Sunday, March 13

Read the full SXSW finalist announcement.

iQ3Connect wins MassChallenge Boston Startup Award

iQ3Connect MassChallenge

iQ3Connect won the prestigious platinum award among 229 startups in MassChallenge early-stage startup competition.

MassChallenge, a global network for innovators, welcomed 229 startups into the 2021 cohort from hundreds of global startup applicants. The startups went through rigorous mentoring and multiple competitive rounds of judging resulting in 36 startups in this cohort. iQ3Connect was honored to be selected in this top tier of startups based on its merits covering transformation business impact, strong social benefit, technology, team and other key elements of a startup. The winners were awarded equity-free cash prizes. “The 229 startups from this year’s cohort demonstrate just how much opportunity exists beyond the closed process of venture when we widen the lens. Congratulations to the winners,” said Siobhan Dullea, CEO of MassChallenge.

Read the full press release.

Virtual Reality: Future of Industrial Product Training in Oil & Gas Industry

VR Industrial Product Training for Oil and Gas Industry

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”

Aristotle (The Nicomachean Ethics) 

Industrial products training is one of the most significant investments made by the Oil & Gas industry for safety and operations. To ensure safe operations in hazardous and complex environments unique to Oil & Gas industry companies, industrial product training is a must. Legacy product training approaches are no longer adequate in the new normal of frequent business disruptions, increased competition, and sustainable growth commitments. New technologies are now increasingly being deployed to modernize and effectively scale enterprise training programs. Many companies in the Oil & Gas sector are turning to VR training applications for this purpose. Let’s explore the reasons why this is so.

The challenges of training in the Oil & Gas industry

  1. Complex and Custom Equipment:  Oil & Gas industry equipment and environment are not just complex, it is custom-engineered and often unique to each division of the company. Therefore product training has to be customized for multiple specific equipment product lines covering installation, operation, and maintenance. This combination of complexity and customization is a significant challenge for managing costs in creating and updating effective product training programs.
  2. Expensive Equipment: Traditionally new employees were trained on physical equipment installed onsite. Adequate time and access to expensive and on-installed equipment creates bottlenecks for product training. If the experience of interacting with operational equipment is impossible, companies turn to videos, powerpoints, and video conference-based approaches, with a predictable loss in efficacy and efficiency of product training programs.
  3. Safety and Environmental Hazards: Oil & Gas industry regulations often prevent training a workforce on the actual equipment situated in hazardous operating environments. The risk of catastrophic error and injury has to be weighed against the benefits of industrial product training directly in a hazardous environment. This is a catch-22 situation for Oil & Gas industry where it is critical to achieving high safety standards in the workforce.
  4. Access to Training Equipment: The remoteness of a worksite means that it can sometimes be impossible to train new employees on an actual piece of equipment, or train existing employees on a new piece of equipment. Additionally, the nature of work in this industry oftentimes necessitates a long shift pattern, lasting weeks or longer (ex. 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off), meaning it’s paramount to optimize the online time of the equipment itself. 
  5. Workforce Turnover and Limitations: Workforce shortages often require industrial trainers and subject matter experts to spend part of their time working in the field, while at the same time requiring the hiring of potentially less qualified candidates. This combination of fewer training resources and a workforce requiring more extensive training is pushing current training capabilities to the limit.

What are the legacy training solutions in the Oil & Gas Industry?

  1. Onsite Live Training- In an ideal world, this would be the first and most effective training choice. In reality, it is costly, difficult to scale, risky, and often just not feasible.
  2. Remote Live Training: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. are cheaper to deploy and eliminate safety hazards, access, and complex scheduling, but cannot capture the benefits of  hands-on experience. Trainees cannot uniformly understand and retain the content. While video conferencing allows some interaction with the instructor, it clearly lacks the very critical interaction with actual equipment.
  3. Self-Paced e-Learning (PDFs/PPTs/Videos/Online): This approach is scalable, safe, and certainly more cost-effective than onsite training. However, there is little to no interactivity either with a trainer or with the learning content. Course content (videos, documents, etc.) are expensive to create and update, and often lags deployment of new equipment when needed. Course content can be out of date by years or lack QC processes, and this in turn defeats the primary goal of training itself.
  4. Virtual Reality (VR) Training: VR training offers a transformational potential of combining all the three categories of training discussed above. VR training technology creates a one-to-one scale-realistic experience interacting with complex virtual models of equipment that is simply impossible with any other remote technology. VR Training has a proven ROI in improving learning retention and overall training benefits. VR training with a corresponding platform can be used for delivering instructor-led training (virtual classrooms), ad-hoc social learning, as well as self-paced learning. 

One of the major challenges of VR training modality is the complexity, cost, and time to deploy. VR training created in game engines is almost akin to movie production. It requires a team of designers, 3D artists, programmers, and rigorous QC. It can take weeks and months to build a training module, which is contrary to the needs of the industry.

How does one go about creating and delivering scalable, cost-effective industrial product training solutions?

VR training solutions are becoming a popular choice. PWC recently published research demonstrating VR training as a more effective approach. In comparison to legacy training, learning in VR training was 4 times faster and users felt 4 times more emotionally connected to the content.

Many organizations might hesitate to put in place VR training systems due to time limits, cost involved, or complexity of solutions. That is not the case with the iQ3Connect VR training and product collaboration solution.

iQ3connect provides enterprises a frictionless path to converting existing CAD models to optimized VR models. Simply upload CAD data and convert it to a VR model in minutes. Share the 3D content with a simple link to experience CAD in a collaborative 3D digital VR workspace. Invite your colleagues, customers, vendors, and suppliers to collaborate or train in your own enterprise Metaverse accessible with a simple web browser or an immersive 3D experience in a VR headset such as Oculus or Microsoft Mixed Reality.

How does iQ3Connect is different from other VR training solutions? 

The iQ3Connect platform offers unique advantages for creating and deploying VR training for enterprises to leverage the overall benefits of VR training applications:

  • Reuse CAD models: Create a custom training by converting existing CAD models to optimized VR models. Upload CAD models, convert to VR models, share a link. Create quick XR training anytime and share anywhere. No manual effort is required to clean up and simplify CAD models which can be a tedious effort.
  • Save time and cost: There is a huge cost involved in time and effort for developing custom VR content. And it’s not a one-time cost, but a recurring cost to update content as industrial designs change. iQ3connect makes it easy to update a training module whenever content such as CAD models are updated. 
  • Enriched VR content:  Customize content with additional information and data like JPEGs, Videos,  360-degree panorama images, or PDF manuals. It is also possible to create specific information tags and critical information to highlight any company-specific information. Authoring VR training with media requires no coding.
  • Easy installation and secure data: Install iQ3Connect on-premise to create your own branded Metaverse within your enterprise’s secure network. Alternatively, use a Virtual Private Server such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to access iQ3Connect in the cloud with secure access via a web browser for your employees, suppliers, vendors, and customers.

iQ3connect is specifically designed for industrial product training applications and has useful features to enable anyone to create VR training efficiently at a fraction of the cost of custom VR applications. iQ3 provides support to help realize the full potential of VR training with best practices, industry knowledge, and more than extensive production use by major corporations. 

For more information please do connect with us for a free trial and consultation.