XR has hit its tipping point – Are Your Ready to Put It to Work?
2019 looks like the year that virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality go mainstream as learning and on the job performance tools. XR is the term that has caught on to define this technology category so we will use it moving forward. Are you ready to put XR to work in your learning and performance strategy?
Virtual Reality (VR) will become another media tool in the toolbox, especially 360 VR Video delivered on headsets and mobile devices at a similar cost to linear video.
Why would you not make use of it? You can immerse the learner in an engaging sales or interpersonal experience, help them understand a new product by giving them X-Ray vision or challenge them on a virtual ride to think ahead to stay safe on the road with realistic scenarios. If you are at all concerned about learner engagement, this may be the new tool for you.
Augmented Reality (AR) will follow suit for training on headsets and mobile devices. AR is useful right now for discovery learning as a self-paced tool or a force multiplier in a workshop. It can enable one instructor to provide personal coaching where needed while the majority of the class is guided by AR on a device. As wearable devices get smaller, AR will make its way into the flow of work, much of which could occur outside the training professional, unless we take the lead in discovering its best applications now.
By midyear, the big surprise will be Mixed Reality (MR), with the Microsoft Hololens, but not because of its similar media capabilities to VR and AR. Or because Hololens 2.0 will be smaller, less expensive, with a new processor that extends battery life and enhanced AI capability. It’s because its cloud and intelligent edge data capability separate the Hololens from the pack.
Think of using the Hololens like this:
- Your user interface (UI)
- To the internet of things (IoT)
- Without having to look down at a screen (Head Up)
- While you work (Hands-Free)
- No keyboard or mouse needed (Voice Activation)
So . . . Learning in the Flow of Work = UI + IoT + Head Up + Hands-Free + Voice Activation
What can this mean for front-line workers who don’t sit at a computer all day? A lot, as they can be guided step by step with hologram visuals without needing to look down at a keyboard.
Microsoft has integrated its Mixed Reality strategy with its powerful Azure cloud platform which is rapidly building steam as Microsoft passed Apple at the end of the year as the world’s largest technology company. So that means spotting a gap in performance with live data is just a keystroke – nope, a mouse click – nope; now it’s just a few spoken words, or even gaze at a hotspot away.
Accessing the intelligent edge means that live data from an assembly robot, natural gas pipeline, jet engine or automobile can be displayed “head up” on the Hololens. If there is a problem it can be spotted immediately. If help is needed, say it’s a new fix or one infrequently performed, the solution can be accessed from the Azure cloud. This help can be a static resource or a live expert who can see what the worker sees and guide them by annotating the screen. The front line worker is basically wearing a Windows 10 computer that can communicate with machines in the workplace while accessing a full library of help from the cloud. You get the idea.
It’s Time to Master XR
So what does this prediction mean to you, the learning professional? It’s time to master XR as another powerful tool in your instructional design toolbox for sure. Get your hands dirty to learn what it does best and discover where it might be a game-changer for your curriculum in the future. 2019 is the year to do it.