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.

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.

iQ3Connect introduction and our view on remote work in COVID times

Remote Work

iQ3Connect Virtual Reality Platform introduction to the world had genesis on helping enterprises to enable remote work. Companies today have distributed teams that collaborate for critical design reviews or training requirements on a regular basis. As per situation, and the foreseeable future, the remote work in training or collaboration is key possibility. The current document level collaboration and screen sharing solutions are not sufficient to make the right decisions. Especially, for workflows involving complex 3D product data. This creates bottlenecks within product development, manufacturing, and training for a growing remote workforce. Immersive collaboration is the key solution here. To implement such technologies at the enterprise level, technology should have ability to scale at instant. It should be be easy to use and ability to integrate into the enterprise business process.

iQ3Connect meets all these requirements and can be implemented to accelerate the adoption of VR in an enterprise. A platform to empower individuals and teams to work, interact and learn together with complex 3D data in secure 3D workspaces. Users are applying iQ3Connect to meet digital transformation initiatives in the product development life cycle to bring products faster to market in an environmentally sustainable way. Our users are using iQ3Connect solutions to efficiently manage all touchpoints and interactions for their Employees, Customers and Suppliers. VR/AR/XR collaboration provides the next generation of productivity and efficiency gains over traditional communication tools, and is an integral part of any digital transformation initiative. 

At iQ3Connect we are passionately building a 3D immersive collaboration platform that helps innovative companies achieve that digital transformation. Founded in 2017, our team includes a deep bench of successful industrial software professionals from ANSYS, Oracle, ESI, and MIT. iQ3Connect came out of the research and startup ecosystem at MIT.