We are excited to have our first guest post on exponentials.ca come from OVA. OVA leverages virtual and augmented reality to create an immersive, interactive learning environments for clients across industries. We hope you enjoy.
By Thomas Nordlum (Chief Communications Officer @ OVA) & Harold Dumur (Founder @ OVA)
While chatting with a police officer buddy of mine, we got to talking about police force training. One of the things that caught my attention was the preparation involved in new recruit training, such as basic firearm usage. It’s not everybody that grows up around hunters or clay pigeon shooters, in fact, much of the time police officers in training have no experience with firearms and might need more training time before going live. I asked how they effectively train and provide training updates in order to carry out such demanding tasks. It seemed to me that the closer to real life practice, the better.
Therein lies the challenge—how can theory and practice be safely and effectively combined? The retention of certain steps may be learned in the classroom, while the concentration under pressure when physically carrying out a task for real is the kind of training experience needed. Most people have a general idea about what a simulator is—it simulates reality, the real world. But more specifically, how can simulation effectively carry the learner to realms that create a sense of urgency that is found in reality—in a safe, practical and long term efficient way, especially with costly and dangerous objects? And what about visual or audible data and feedback being available at the learner’s fingertips, data serving as a sort of classroom aide-mémoire or feedback from prior training sessions.
In recent years, there has been more and more investment in Virtual Reality (VR), suggesting that VR may be the next barrier breaking development in immersive technology. Allowing for a fully immersive experience, VR technology can transform and adjust an environment through such actions as physical gestures and verbal directions, permitting structures that better suit training needs. Not only that, VR creates those kinds of environments that are difficult to access and permits exploration of settings ranging from a movie-like convenience store hold-up to serious acts of terrorism.
1. Data, innately touched and felt
While enabling a radically new experience, full immersion into a virtual reality will ultimately depend on the quality of the underlying technology. Imagine entering a virtual shooting range. What would you expect visually? Could such an experience provide a similar immersive experience that a video game might offer? Maybe, maybe not. However, new innovations are currently taking place in VR that dig deeper into the physics of the real and virtual worlds that provides an exceptional sense experience for the learner.
2. Plugging in…
Platforms innovations are now taking into account simulated and immersive environments as part of their design—for easy importation and launching within various Learning Management Systems (LMS). New technologies are providing the possibility of learner participation in open environments and offer a range of interactive devices including motion tracking, 3D view and full body sensors. Already existing objects from traditional simulation environments in addition to those currently in use can be seamlessly integrated, translating to high delivery flexibility. Because the things we see can sometimes be difficult to interpret, VR technology favors an intuitive interaction with colleagues, promoting mutual discussion about the topic on hand while working under pressure in difficult situations. All this though multidimensional visualization and voice-activated command.
3. Making and Keeping it Real
Is there a catch? Immersive environments alone cannot be as real as real life, right? For any real bearing in the milieu of training, a combination of immersion and interaction will help integrate VR into the learning experience and thus become part of the real world. Through mirroring reality (after all, mirror reflections themselves are simulations), VR’s capacities can break new ground in exploring our intimate thoughts as well as those of others, helping to better predict actions under certain circumstances. Could VR become a superior way to interact with difficult people and difficult situations and to further understand their most personal fears and goals and why they are acting the way they are? The reality of Virtual Reality might just be that which training in difficult, indeed dangerous environments requires.
Not a bad idea for training a cop.
Check out in the following video detailing how this technology can be adapted to many highly technical and not easily accessible environments. From a submarine, in which the participant does some self-training to an open field rescue station. And the possibilities just keep growing.
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