A snapshot from NextSteps 2018: The future of AR for training

At NextSteps, NetDimensions’ global users conference, we heard from Amar Dhaliwhal, Senior Vice-President of Marketing and Product at leading Augmented Reality platform company, Atheer. He gave us a glimpse into the (near) future of AR for training.

Amar Dhaliwhal talks AR for training at NextSteps 2018Amar spoke compellingly on the potential of augmented reality (AR) to transform how training is delivered, and shared his insights on best practice use of AR for training.

AR for training: How does it work?

First of all, you can’t really talk about AR without mentioning its close ‘relatives’: virtual reality and mixed reality. So here’s a quick rundown of these three closely-related technologies:

  • Virtual reality, or VR, is an immersive, entirely virtual experience, most often accessed by using a headset. Flight simulators are a well-known use of VR in a training context, but the healthcare and defence sectors also use VR for training in high-risk situations.
  • Mixed reality, or MR, combines the real world with virtual assets you can interact with. Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is one example of a MR device that can be used for training.
  • Finally, Augmented reality (AR) is experienced through the use of glasses (think Google Glass) allowing you to see a real-world view augmented by digital assets such as diagrams, schematics or even videos.

Both MR and AR have similar use cases in a training context. Amar believes these two terms will start to mix in the future.

AR for training will see large-scale adoption…soon

Alongside many of his fellow thought leaders, Amar expects AR to lead the next generation of enterprise computing. While the technology is still in its early stages right now, change will take place at a fast pace.

The rapid development of mobile devices is a fine example of just how quickly technology can evolve. We now have immensely powerful mini-computers in the palm of our hands – something unthinkable when the first, brick-like cell phones came on to the market.

Industrial enterprises are leading the way in using AR for training

To see the potential of using AR for training, we should look to industrial enterprises. Businesses in this area are already benefiting from the use of AR to assist with repairs and improve service quality, among other things.

Last year, the research and intelligence firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), predicted that AR will fundamentally change industrial jobs in the next five years.

Why will the use of AR for training deliver results?

All industries are witnessing a proliferation of highly-complex products and services. This environment makes it nigh on impossible to maintain knowledge of products and services – so it’s more important than ever to supply people with knowledge at the point of need.

At the same time, expert knowledge is becoming obsolete more quickly, and has an increasingly short shelf life. AR gives businesses the opportunity to ensure project expertise without necessarily having highly-experienced personnel.

The number one reason why more companies are currently looking at deploying and testing AR is efficiency – using AR to work faster and smarter.
According to Amar, the other most popular reasons for take-up are:

  • Safety
  • Client relations
  • Improved businesses processes

Amar Dhaliwhal spoke about the benefits of AR for trainingWhat is the business impact of using AR for training?

AR is helping people to reduce downtime, carry out repairs, improve production cycle time and reduce error rates.

What’s more, AR provides highly measurable benefits with a simple set of metrics. From productivity to safety and customer service, AR will undoubtedly continue to boost enterprises in the coming years.

Porsche, for example, is known for having some of the best automotive technicians in the world. Their initial certification takes a year and a half to attain, and gold certification takes three years, demonstrating how seriously the company takes training.

By using AR, Porsche has achieved a 40% improvement in service resolution times. This is because it allows:

  • Technicians to wirelessly connect back to experts
  • Remote technicians to see what on-location technicians can see and share materials
  • The projection of materials, such as PDF documents and service manuals, onto a scene

Some L&D professionals have compared various types of AR to ‘Skype on steroids’. Where technicians once needed hours or days to respond to support requests and issues, AR allows them to work on them instantly.

What practical steps do you need to take to start using AR for training?

Having demonstrated the impact AR can make in giving employees guidance and training, Amar had a few suggestions for organizations:

  • Research the market: Find out about the different providers and technologies on the market
  • Carry out a task analysis to identify any tasks or processes within your organization that are suitable for AR
  • Start experimenting on a small scale

Organizations that take action will reap the future benefits of VR and AR for training, rather than watching it happen around them. The time is now for L&D teams to start experimenting and be the innovation centres for this exciting new technology.

A automotive worker using AR for training

Excited by the potential of innovative technologies? Contact us today to find out about NetDimensions’ connected learning solutions.


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