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How Augmented Reality can be used
for the Development of Employee Skills
There’s no doubt that augmented reality (AR) represents huge business in the modern age, achieving a cumulative value of $6.16 billion in 2020.
What’s more, the market’s value is expected to increase to $8.86 billion by the end of this year, before peaking in excess of $21 billion by 2024.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of AR in closer detail, before asking how it may be used to help develop employee skills.
Getting Started - What Exactly is Augmented Reality?
Arguably, virtual reality (VR) is better known than AR, but while the former creates completely unique surroundings, the latter takes corporeal aspects from an existing environment and alters these accordingly.
To put this into further context, AR technology comprises an element split of 75% real and 25% virtual, whereas VR reverses this to create a recognisably different experience across multiple applications.
The use of real-world settings and elements in AR also means that this technology boasts a higher rate of adoption in the commercial world, particularly from the perspective of training and employee development.
What’s more, this technology is also more accessible than virtual reality, as AR environments can be successfully created and made available through a smartphone (whereas VR settings can only be enjoyed using a dedicated headset device).
The reason for this is simple; as modern smartphones comprise all the components required to drive AR programs and environments, including a central processor, input devices and display sensors.
AR also presents itself as a real-time combination of the physical and virtual worlds as described above, while it also boasts an accurate, three-dimensional registration of these realms.
What are the Benefits of AR Training and Employee Development?
We’ve already touched on the viability and accessibility of AR from a commercial perspective, but how does this translate into actionable benefits for training and development?
We’ll explore this further in the list below, with AR capable of teaching both hard and soft industry skills for a diverse array of different workspaces.
1. Driving Higher Levels of Engagement
Engagement remains a significant issue in the modern-day workplace, with this an omnipotent challenge in a developed world of abundance and wealth.
This problem is likely to have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic too, with the latest research suggesting that just 36% of workers consider themselves to be actively engaged in their place of work.
The latest Gallup data also suggests that as much as 51% of the total workforce is actively disengaged in the workplace, highlighting the challenges facing employers in the modern age.
This challenge can particularly manifest itself through employee training, especially if businesses use staid and outdated methods of imparting information on staff members. This at least partially explains why video has become such a popular training channel in recent times, as it’s well known that viewers retain up to 95% of the info included in an audio-visual message (compared with just 10% when processing text alone).
Make no mistake; however, AR is also being integrated to deliver even more engaging and effective training sessions, which deliver real-time and practical learning through physical devices in a structured and interactive setting.
There are a number of successful case studies in this respect, with welding offering a relevant case in point.
Through AR-training firms like Soldamatic, businesses can access flexible software and augmented training programs, which have been proven to reduce learning time by as much as 56%.
Similarly, Soldamatic claims that its augmented training delivers 34% more certified welders than traditional methods, while such programs are also thought to drive a 68% reduction in lab costs.
These statistics are eye-popping, and they certainly highlight how targeted and AR-inspired training can help with the delivery of hard industry skills.
2. Creating Higher Levels of Safety
If we extend the previous example of augmented trading in welding, it’s also fair to say this type of technology helps to create improved levels of safety (especially across a range of industrial applications).
More specifically, Soldamatic’s training programs are thought to have resulted in 84% less accidents amongst clients, which highlights just how important AR-training may be in inherently dangerous and industrial jobs.
It’s also important to note that the training for this type of job is also noticeably dangerous, creating a pressing need for firms to develop safe and controlled programs that are effective and still fit for purpose.
The main reason for this is simple; AR enables new employees to practice everyday job tasks without the risk of injury or endangerment. What’s more, employees don’t have to be fearful or compromise on the quality of education on offer, which is a huge boon for employers looking to invest in staff development.
Interestingly, this can also help employees to overcome cognitive barriers more easily, whether these relate to fear, anxiety, or a failure to understand precisely how certain items of machinery work.
3. The Reduction of Training Costs
We’ve already touched on how AR training is inherently more accessible and affordable than the VR alternative, but how does it compare with traditional training and educational methods?
Well, although the initial cost of AR training equipment and implementation can be high (particularly when utilised across large training classes), we should note that such hardware is also reusable.
What’s more, you may even be able to encourage staff members to use their own smartphones to access customised AR training programs, enabling you to dramatically reduce initial costs without compromising on the delivery of core learning materials.
Either way, the long-term cost of sourcing and maintaining AR technology and equipment certainly compares favourably with costly seminars and classes. Such learning vehicles will also command the same recurring cost every time you hold them, creating a significant outlay that can weigh heavily on smaller firms over time.
If we accept the logic that AR training may lead to improved information attention and fewer workplace accidents over time, it can be argued that this technology creates more productivity (and therefore valuable employees) while reducing the cost of compensation payouts in certain industries.
About the Author
Lewis Humphries is a freelance copywriter at Contenting.