How iQ3Connect XR SaaS platform can make enterprise training scalable, elastic, and available at all times?

XR SaaS Platform

XR SaaS Platform

Making employee training scalable, elastic, and available is the need of the hour for today’s enterprise. With inflation on the rise, interest rates going north, geopolitical uncertainty, and pandemic aftereffects manufacturing organizations are facing an uncertain business environment. Improving employee productivity, bridging skills gaps, building a talent pool, and working with global talent are key areas of improvement to address such challenges. Enterprises are looking for applications that deliver effective training outcomes and are also accessible remotely to global stakeholders. To deliver effective training and collaboration, SaaS-based enterprise XR training applications have come to the fore and are gaining traction in all sectors.

Enterprises of all sizes are now adopting SaaS as the best alternative to the traditional enterprise software models. According to the Computer Economics report, around 60% of all companies have now integrated at least some percentage of SaaS solutions into their business, with nearly 36% aiming to increase their investment in the months to come (Reference link). Nearly one-third of the overall enterprise-software market will be SaaS-based, says a report from Mckinsey on SaaS Services

It is not only numbers that speak the scale of SaaS adoption, this paradigm shift is enabled by numerous advantages that SaaS-based enterprise training and collaboration applications offer.

Why Use SaaS Applications in Enterprise Training?

  • SaaS is available in multi-tenancy, single private cloud, or hybrid models. These choices give enterprise flexibility to experiments that are not easy cases for legacy enterprise application models. Enterprises can start with shared training services for a smaller group or division before moving on to a virtual private cloud for enterprise-wide adoption. This flexibility can empower enterprises to test business use cases with fewer risks and move on to complex training use cases to reap larger rewards.
  • No Physical infrastructure: SaaS resides in the cloud giving an advantage of using applications on web browser. Training apps can be used from remote and have no need for server rooms, hardware, cooling equipment, etc. Scaling of training applications does not need weeks of planning, months of upgrades of physical infrastructure, and expensive finance.
  • Pay-as-you-go: SaaS gives an advantage of scaling as pay-as-you-go along based on enterprise business requirements and budget availability. Any enterprise can start with a minimum budget and, as adoption grows, they can turn the throttle up to increase the number of users and data storage. The biggest cost saving comes from the elasticity of the user demands, scale up and down based on usage, which gives flexibility to enterprises to deploy the saved cash to be deployed for business purposes and be competitive in a dynamic business environment.
  • Amplified security with levels of data protection and user control: SaaS data is stored in the cloud with access control to authorized personnel. It is quite helpful as cloud architecture enables the scaling of data storage easily. There is no movement of data in physical drives. The archiving and retrieval of data are seamless and available any the time. The system of time stamping and user linkage to modification of data, versioning, etc, helps to fix accountability in case of mishaps.

Benefits of SaaS enterprise application model

  1. Low Initial Investment: There are very low upfront fees with no additional burden of hefty IT infrastructure.  The pay-as-you-go makes it easier to enter into a business relationship and invest in a SaaS plan when you expect quick business growth or try out an idea.
  2. Lower cost of ownership: The primary reason for low cost is that the enterprise will not incur any investment cost in buying new IT hardware or training and hiring resources to maintain the expensive hardware locally. Thus, in the long run, the SaaS application proves to be much cheaper. The application license is applied to only users and there is minimum wastage of budget on unutilized assets or licenses.
  3. Comprehensive Coverage: With SaaS, enterprises can efficiently perform business activities across multiple devices, from remote or premise, and at any given point in time. Moreover, SaaS has high uptime, and the only requirement is an internet connection and a web browser.
  4. Less Headache for IT: The in-house IT team will save hours and budget expenses because of the on-the-cloud SaaS operating model. In addition, this takes regular maintenance fees, routine backup issues, updating schedules, etc., out of the picture. The SaaS application development services provider takes on the challenge of maintaining the hardware, avoiding the risk of downtime or system failures, training and recruiting the staff, etc. This leaves the enterprise IT team with enough time to focus on planning and budgeting the infrastructure of the core of their business. All one has to do is procure a good internet connection and install a standard web browser.
  5. OTA Updates: In the SaaS model there is no need to install updates on an individual machine, the applications are always available to the latest version with the latest features.
  6. Easy Integration: API-based integration of SaaS with legacy systems can bring data portability and workflow integration to the enterprise applications.

iQ3Connect XR SaaS training platform is today used by well-known brands. If you be interested to explore more about it, feel free to reach us.

Upskilling Industrial Workforce in New Era

Upskilling Industrial Workforce in new era

People are the strength of an organization. Industrial enterprises spend a massive amount on employee training to stay competitive. The industrial workforce is still acknowledged as the most important resource of any engineering enterprise. This article will introduce the importance of upskilling the industrial workforce and highlight the challenges and expectations of a successful training process. That digital future has arrived but are your employees ready and able to embrace it? What are the key challenges in upskilling your Industrial workforce to effectively utilize these new tools?

Digitization will reshape the Industrial jobs skillset

Industry 4.0 is already set in motion on many industrial shop floors. This is driven by the need for productivity, cost efficiency, and globalization. The implementation of robotics and automated systems is currently taking shape in Giga factories. These implementations of new technologies require immediate retooling of the skill sets of your workforce. Does your company own an operational plan for implementing this upskilling process?  

A study conducted by Deloitte & the Manufacturing Institute estimated that the rate of unfilled jobs is set to reach 2 million from 2015–to 2025 due to skill gaps (Deloitte Study). Recent studies indicate the skills shortage will be on an even larger scale since the demand for workers trained to work alongside robots already exceeds the supply. And the situation can go from bad to worse owing to the lack of digital tools available to achieve the goals of reskilling or upskilling employees.

Hands-on training for upskilling the industrial workforce for the new-age industrial equipment

As the industrial workspace becomes increasingly digital, the skill profiles of the workforce are inconsistent across the organization. Today’s modern industrial organizations must interact with stakeholders across the globe. Corporate trainers have been handed the task of critical retraining the enterprise workforce across multiple locations rapidly at low cost. Operating such industrial equipment requires a solid knowledge base and hands-on skills. There is increasing demand for this kind of training using costly new equipment that typically must be taken offline for training purposes. As a result, content management platforms with training models, quick modes of communication, and collaboration tools should be the norm across the enterprise network. The lack of such tools can impact an organization severely resulting in failures to meet demand and unpredictable supply gaps in the workforce.

Workforce transformation imperatives for the digital age

The question is NOT whether to train or upskill but how to deliver training that is time efficient, cost effective, and consistently successful.  Careful analysis is necessary to assess the costs, objectives, and quality of any reskilling process. To what extent do your legacy training modules meet the demand of syncing new digital technology to your existing technology and processes. Can your existing workforce manage the learning curve that these new technologies require?  Can the company afford to take machinery off-line to be used as training tools?  Are there other ways to provide a thorough hands-on training experience that doesn’t use the production line?

What are some of the must-have features of the technology stack for upskilling the industrial workforce in this digital era?

  1. Build a scalable interactive accessible training system
    1. Demand-based scaling up and down training network
    2. Enterprise-wide easy accessibility with access option from enterprise id
  2. Content security
    1. Serve content from a centralized repository with no option to download
    2. Role-based content availability & management options
    3. Ease of use with flexible options for increased adoption
  3. Integration option with the current enterprise technology stack
  4. The technology stack should be low code or no code for quick implementation
  5. Reuse, conversion of existing content, and ability to integrate with multiple formats.

What are the benefits of a re-skilled and smarter workforce for engineering enterprises?

  • Enterprise can bridge the gap between demand and supply of trained workforce
  • Increase the business responsiveness
  • Reduced defects, less downtime, and increased worker satisfaction
  • Reduced workforce hiring expenses
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Increased productivity and availability of training managers

How does one prepare to implement a digital 3D training studio?

  1. Share your vision and reasons to implement the tech solution
  2. Equip your training managers and give an organizational mandate
  3. Implement a digital tool that doesn’t disrupt the existing way of working
  4. Create a solution that aids the daily work routine and decreases the hassle.
  5. Start in small pockets and drive the adoption slowly
  6. Establish the metrics for success, reward the early success and efforts

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.

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.