Virtual Perceptions attended a breakfast briefing with Immerse, a UK-based company that has developed a VR enterprise platform.
The team brought up several speakers who explored the VR world, giving a summary of the industry based on their experiences. Here are some of their insights:
Learning how to use a submarine with VR
Qinetiq came on stage to explore how they use VR for submarine training. Immerse developed the platform where trainers can wander through the area and learn how to do day-to-day tasks in the submersible. The technology helps people mitigate and learn against risks. It’s this health and safety dimension which provides a lot of value for using VR.
A key next step the company is taking is the collection of data, The data provides ROI on the use of the tech, for both internal stakeholders and other companies. In an industry as slow as the defence sector, training workers more quickly is always a plus.
In the example they showed, approximately thirty data points per second are tracked for the work.
Martin Murphy, who works in the electricity industry, raises the point on the use of VR in the electricity industry. When he asked on costs for making a demo, it would cost (ballpark) half a million to develop. A simple prototype could be made cheaper, then aims should be set before further development.
Creating a cyber-human interface
Dr Thomas Bohne from the Cyber-Human Lab at the University of Cambridge explored the topic further. The skills gap is widening, and Dr Bohne and his team are looking into VR to reskill workers and adapt to changing industries. Walmart is currently leading in the area.
Siemens spends £500m a year in training, and Dr Bohne asks if that number can be improved, that is a big saving.
The three challenges are:
- How to digitise everything
- How to develop a human-VR interface for adoption
- How do you create a performance boost using a virtual world, applicable to the real world?
In reality, VR in itself does not provide any significant effects, based on their research. Nor does it boost performance in the real world. But if VR has an impact in the real world, it boosts improvement. For example, haptic gloves help to build a sense of immersion, or using real objects for building a clutch.
Training people for international deliveries
Rick Jackson, SVP from DHL, their aims are similar when training lots of employees. After a long time, their internal board has agreed, and they have invested a quarter of a million into VR to play around with the tech.
For their enterprise packaging, they have extensive training programs for anyone who touches the boxes that are prepped for transport. So the team developed an immersive world in the facility, where the users learn how to handle the workload in a safe environment. The three-week training period can be shortened, with more time dedicated to the reinforcement of what’s learned.
Internal PR is critical for acceptance, so a light version was created and shared with internal stakeholders to continue the interest and acceptance of the VR tech.
DHL is working with Oculus to develop the technology further. 2020 would be the formative year where people will see the tech in action.
Overall it was an interesting event to attend. Immerse selected some great speakers which highlighted the successful use cases of VR, while being honest about the early stage of the technology.
What struck me was the difference of opinion. Some were unsure whether the technology was still in the trough of disillusionment, while others suspect it is at the peak of its hype before it collapses. That difference was subdivided further by industry or area, which complicated the issue.
The consensus was that the industry is small and niche, but with a lot of potential for growth, Both externally and internally, people are wading through what is possible with VR while convincing internal stakeholders to invest into the application. Technology is not the only barrier.