What Stands Behind 3D Virtual Reality Training in an Immersive Industrial Environment
“Virtual training became a very popular alternative to regular centers. This article explores how and why they have gained so much popularity and how they improve the training process.”
Over the years, virtual training have become extremely popular. They represent a combination of virtual reality technology and a science of learning that allows for increasing the efficiency of training and reducing the risks associated with it. Today, we are going to study the basics behind virtual training, their place in the industry and how we ended up with such a high popularity of 3D simulations.
Before we get to the discussion of applying of Virtual Reality for 3D training and simulation in the industrial environment, let’s define some concepts to leave everything clear. Although we’re sure that everyone is familiar with the definition of virtual reality itself, we would like to repeat it once more.
VR is an interactive, computer-generated simulation that provides people with an immersive experience of the real or imaginary world. Advanced VR applications can be displayed on special stereoscopic equipment, PC screen, or even smartphone. However, some simulations use supplementary instruments that catch sensory information, for example, haptic systems for a deeply engaging experience in gaming or medical apps. However, virtual training do not necessarily have to involve a lot of specialized additional supplies. So nowadays, industrial companies are free to choose the type of virtual reality development that is suitable for training needs and capacities.
Why VR Helps To Learn & Train More Efficiently?
A lot of research and common thoughts associate virtual reality with effective learning. There is, in fact, a scientific background to confirm such conclusions that we will try to explain as briefly as possible to present a bit of a valuable information for those who are reading this article. In particular, there is a collection of main points concerning the usage of a virtual environment for training in an industrialized climate.
* Individuals remember and learn better by carrying out an action
It is a fact from general knowledge that people learn better and faster when they are deeply involved in the learning process. So, “learning by doing” represents a concept when a person performs actions instead of just reading or listening. In that way, they engage the part of the brain that allows them to memorize information more promptly, creating neural connections in the brain that associate actions with the effect of knowledge. Individuals mentally understand the material by interacting with an environment, testing it, and correcting personal mistakes.
* Simulation represents the real model of “learning by doing” mechanism
For a human’s brain executing something in a virtual reality is the same thing as performing the very same action in a real life. While the learner knows the difference between these two scenes, his or her brain perceives what is happening in the simulation as a reality and initiates the same neural processes and activities in both situations. The simulation solves a couple of problems while at the same time, the trainee is experiencing a real environment, can test it, and learn how to behave in the proposed situations. It allows individuals to understand and memorize specific procedures a lot more easily.
* Visualizing is an effective approach to learning
The way of performing physical tasks virtually facilitates the learning process, because in 3D environment, for instance, the act of pressing buttons in order to make the virtual avatar carry out a specific action activates the same neurons in the brain, as if an individual was to do this action on his/her own and this makes the learner train his/her “muscle memory.”
*Knowledge obtained in a virtual environment can be applied in real life
Scientific studies confirmed that virtual training can compete with training in the field, since learning in a 3D environment stimulates the brain to work the same way as if it were real-world training. That’s why virtual simulations are excellent substitutes for physical trainings, such as in the case when field practice is dangerous or impossible.
In addition to becoming a sufficient environment for virtual training, 3D simulation requires:
– realness of all objects, subjects, and scenarios;
– realistic behavior and ways of interaction with an environment;
– ability to execute tasks the way it correlates with real situations;
– possibility to provide guidance for all trainees.
In general, virtual simulation offers the practice of entering an immersive environment and training without accessing the physical world or the necessity to have specialized hardware for practice.
Military & Gaming Industries and Their Contribution to the Distribution of Virtual Simulators
Contemporary 3D training have become a widespread standard in an industrial environment. Today, the majority of industry giants choose to take maximum advantage of this technology.
However, previously very few companies had the means to invest in VR that generates immersive and interactive real-time simulations that mirror the real world. Simulation infrastructure that ensures the accuracy of the virtual environment, efficient ways of interaction, and life-like scenarios required serious funds to invest and a professional set of tools to develop. In addition, it demanded a programming workforce with highly-specific knowledge. Altogether, it required too many resources and finances for an industrial corporation to adopt 3D training. On the other hand, it still does; but today, companies successfully apply this technology in the learning process because 3D simulators have proved to be effective.
Virtual technologies have been favorably developed and introduced to the mass market thanks to the contributions of the gaming industry. This commerce established a favorable and competing market for distribution of gaming hardware and various types of interactive games that include virtual reality in one form or another. Such an environment allowed VR products to infiltrate into other areas such as manufacturing, healthcare, the armed forces, etc.
On the other hand, the first investments in the development of a 3D environment for games came from the defense industry. Actually, nowadays gaming technologies have developed the way they can be adopted by military organizations. Moreover, the gaming industry is the one that produces engines with complex graphic programming interfaces that are used to create a virtual environment, among them:
– game engines (Unity, Cry Engine, UE) that program simulation logic and objectives;
– 3D software (3ds Max, Maya, Blender) that serve as a graphic environment that produces realistic shades, lighting, and textures and allows for posing a camera in different places and an unlimited number of times to look at the picture from all angles;
– physics engines/hardware (Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift) ensures interaction between the simulation and participants.
This set of tools is necessary for the creation of a fully-immersive, realistic experience. Often VR hardware is outfitted with additional equipment such as haptic sensors or speakers to create a feeling of total engagement that adds more value to the training process. A lot of research confirmed that a simple simulated environment is just as effective as more complex training, however at a much lower cost.
Usage of 3D Simulations to Decrease Exertion
Currently, with the video game industry in place, the development of interactive simulations and the deployment of them in a variety of areas has become much easier. The majority of industrial giants have successfully implemented the training methodology mentioned below, and a lot of companies have also decided to take advantage of virtual training, inheriting their example. Today, the benefits of a 3D-simulated environment can easily be followed and achieved not just for educational purposes. The majority of leading industrial companies have already explored the convenience of VR simulations that have given them an advantage over competitors and helped them to profit more by the rapid input of qualified staff.
To name a few, The Royal Australian Navy launched a famous LASTS (Location and Scenario Training System) 3D program aimed at training submariners. This system was the subject of a practical test of the usefulness of virtual training for educational purposes. The analysis exposed the significant difference between the control (traditional approach) and experimental (virtual training) groups. Submariners from the experimental group showed better results in the following:
– knowledge of submarine equipment, their repair methods, and the necessary actions in case of emergency;
– recognition of submarine and naval items;
– confidence during the inspection process;
– time frame of the examination.
Another instance is The Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) that applies virtual simulation in the job training process in order to prepare people for the industrial environment, job settings, and complex responsibilities. One of the main objectives of the Virtual Training Program (CAPEV) is the orientation of the trainees with the environment and the practice of maintaining various equipment. The scores of such trainees are five times higher than those who attended traditional training centers to prepare for the job. Moreover, they show a higher comfort level than representatives of another group when entering the real-life environment.
Other examples can include the German Army multi-person training for the M3 Amphibious machine and the University of South Wales that developed an immersive safety training program for miners.
Efficient training facilitates the reduction of risks and improvement of expediency for industrial organizations. Scientific analysis declares the unlimited potential for such companies for the improvement of their training process, optimization of the way staff members prepare for the job, or additional enhancement of their knowledge. Virtual simulations provide an opportunity to deliver an improved training experience that ensures better recall of all information since employees can repeat the training as many times as they need as well as perform a preparation within a safe environment.
Thanks to the high level of realness, 3D training allow learners to interact with equipment that actually is in existence. Companies can take advantage of interactive, lower-cost 3D solutions while at the same time eliminating the risk of damage to valuable industrial equipment. Moreover, any industrial company can benefit from a much more flexible, portable, and cost-effective training program that leads to greater security and safety, reduces training cost, and improves program preparation.