Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have ignited radical transformations across numerous sectors, with education and training leading the charge.
As pioneers in 3D Art and VR, AR development, Canopy Creative has played a crucial role in assisting our clients in navigating the digital metamorphosis of learning and training. We have seen how learning simulations have driven a new wave of experiential and immersive learning experiences that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
2023 is shaping up to be a landmark year for VR training, building on the momentum of 2022, during which over 20 million Meta Quest VR headsets found new homes.
As we cross the mid-year mark, it is the perfect time to take stock of six significant VR trends that have defined the first half of 2023 and will continue to shape the rest of the year and beyond.
Advancement from Video to Real-Time Rendering
The infancy of VR saw training departments primarily using 360-degree videos for soft skill training. While it was cost-effective and straightforward to create, it fell short of the complete immersive experience VR can deliver. The understanding has since evolved; VR is much more than a panoramic movie screen—it's a fully immersive, interactive, 3D world.
Cultivating a sense of presence, the sensation of being in another place, necessitates computer-generated scenarios. Real-time game engine-developed simulations allow users to explore and engage with the environment in a highly interactive manner. Developing these simulations demands a blend of artistic creativity, VR and game development expertise, and an understanding of instructional design.
Take Daikin Applied as an example. The HVAC leader collaborated with us to create an immersive experience that enables “X-ray” vision into their complex machinery, making the inner workings visible and comprehensible in a new way.
Progression from Training Apps to Cross-Functional Programs
Real-time rendered VR may require a significant initial investment, but it’s a scalable and flexible venture that can be utilized across different business functions over several years. This underscores the need for an integrated VR approach, merging it across various departments to establish a more robust business case.
Daikin's use of VR illustrates its potential beyond training; it's an impactful tool for marketing and sales enablement. Recognizing VR's long-term viability, Daikin’s finance leaders chose to capitalize this innovative investment.
Transition from Device Dependence to Cross-Play
VR is not confined to high-end, expensive headsets; it can adapt to an array of platforms, from comprehensive immersion via a VR headset to the convenience of mobile phones and tablets. This flexibility enhances accessibility, providing a digital portal to every user.
For instance, Daikin's 3D programs are available across multiple platforms—high-quality VR headsets, PCs, phones, tablets, and even large touchscreens for roadshows or exhibitions.
Transformation from Single to Multiplayer Experiences
In the past, VR training programs were primarily solo experiences. However, today's VR simulations provide multiplayer experiences, fostering a sense of “social presence.” Learners can collaborate with peers in real-time, share equipment, and perform collaborative tasks.
In Daikin's case, sales representatives can interact with customers globally, using VR to guide them through the intricate workings of their industrial chillers during virtual meetings.
The Leap from Pilot Programs to Enterprise-Wide Deployment
2023 is turning out to be the year when many organizations have moved beyond the experimental phase and deployed VR across their enterprises. With IT infrastructures becoming increasingly VR-ready and industry leaders like Meta/Facebook providing services such as the "Quest for Business" subscription bundle, managing VR content remotely has become more streamlined.
Further, the VR world has embraced a surprising spirit of cooperation. Open standards like OpenXR ensure VR programs are compatible across different headsets. Recently, Microsoft announced that Quest users could access its Windows operating system and business-focused apps like Teams, Intune, and Azure Active Directory. With xAPI calls enabling seamless reporting of student data from VR to Learning Record Stores (LRS) and Learning Management Systems (LMS), the tech barriers to enterprise VR deployment are eroding.
The Evolution from Virtual to Mixed Reality
Mixed Reality (MR) headsets are expected to become mainstream in 2023, further blurring the line between the real and virtual worlds. Meta recently introduced a developer version of MR technology called "Quest Pro," overlaying computer-generated images onto real-world surroundings. Their consumer-oriented headset, Quest 3, is anticipated to hit the market in the fall. Meanwhile, Apple is rumored to debut a high-end mixed reality headset later this year.
As we look forward to the second half of 2023, we expect to see mainstream adoption of VR for training in areas like safety, equipment operations and service, logistics, manufacturing, emergency response, and healthcare. However, applications like soft skills training, IT systems training, conferences, and all-purpose collaboration may require a few more years to fully mature.
At Canopy Creative, we are thrilled to be a part of this exciting journey, leveraging our expertise in 3D Art, VR, and AR to redefine learning and training experiences for our clients. The future of VR in education and training is filled with potential, and we're ready to help you navigate this rapidly evolving landscape.