I first got introduced to Virtual Reality (VR) in the 90’s. Back then it was all about gaming of course. Even today though the perception is that it is mainly about gaming, and to be honest that was also my perception. When I spoke with Alan Renouf the first time about the project he was working on and I saw his keynote demo I didn’t really see the opportunity. It all felt a bit gimmicky, to be honest, but can you blame me when the focus of the demo is moving workloads to the cloud by picking up a VM and throwing it over “the fence”.
In the last few days, as part of my Take 3, I have been mainly reading up on VR and AR use cases. I listened to podcasts and watched a dozen youtube videos. While listening, reading and watching it became clear to me that the perception I have(had) is way off. I had never given this much thought I guess, but the more I read, watch, hear, the more I get excited about the opportunities for VR/AR out there.
I believe right now training is a big opportunity. When I heard about this I related it back to my own job, but that is not really where the opportunity is today. The opportunity here is training for dangerous, challenging, or hazardous scenarios, which are often expensive and difficult to create. Okay, let’s get a bit more specific here, one of the examples I learned about last week was training for firefighters. Not just the actual fire fighting, but also the investigation of for instance how and where the fire started.
It isn’t something I ever thought about, but in order to train firefighters they create a room inside a container, burn down the container and then have groups of firefighters try to figure out how and where the fire started. The problem is though if they train 10 groups per day, only the last group can touch the objects and do a proper investigation. With VR this problem is solved, as after every training session you reset and start over. Same for instance could apply to police force training for things like crime scene investigation. Or for instance training of personnel working (nuclear) power plants, oil platforms, etc etc. Or even customer services training for retailers like Walmart, let them deal with difficult customers in VR first, let them handle dozens of difficult situations in VR before they are exposed to “real” customers.
There are many companies that have a need for (realistic) training of personnel in an easy, repeatable, and relatively affordable way. VR and AR allows you to do just that. If you want to learn more, I recommend listening to the Virtually Speaking Podcast episode covering Spatial Computing.