How Fiction Became Reality
In the 1930’s, science fiction author Stanley G. Weinbaum crafted an imaginative story where a pair of goggles transported a wearer into an alternate form of reality. Inside the world within the goggles, the wearer’s senses would come alive as he was swept away into a story as the main character with the ability to interact with other characters in the story the same way he could interact with real people in real life.
Mesmerized by Weinbaum’s premature concept of virtual reality, scientists and cinematographers alike created an array of prototypes aimed to transform the human sensory experience by leveraging the power of technology to simulate an alternate, fictitious environment. Early solutions like Morton’s Heilig’s Telesphere Mask (the first virtual reality headset) that allowed wearers to experience television in a new way by delivering 3-D images and stereo sound have set the stage for more advanced virtual reality concepts that span a multitude of different use cases and industries.
The Power of Virtual Reality Training
Though virtual reality has been a prevalent concept in the world of gaming and entertainment from the genesis of its development, it has gained traction as an educational tool for professional development, especially as it pertains to employee training. By applying the same technology used to deliver immersive user entertainment, organizations of all types can simulate real-world situations in a controlled and interactive environment—eliminating the dangers of risky settings where one incorrect action could have a disastrous outcome.
Simulating life-like situations, especially those that could not be safely replicated, are just one of the many benefits of virtual development. The real value behind virtual reality technology lies in its ability to mimic the natural human learning process, wherein learning often occurs through experience.
Leveraging the power of virtual reality, organizations can regularly expose employees to real-world circumstances and watch their responses, test their ability to mitigate problems and work towards a solution as an individual or within a group, and condition employee responses to fit an optimal response for someone in that position. This form of training affords employees the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them through the process of trial and error, or by watching their peers solve the same problem in a more effective way. This gives employees the most immersive experience possible, which in turn helps them to retain and use what they’ve learned when it counts. For organizations in the medical/life sciences, industrial/manufacturing, government, and even in the field of hospitality, this method of training can help employees solve problems more accurately, safely, and efficiently—minimizing operator errors and maximizing employee knowledge on the same token.
The Possibilities Are Endless
Virtual Reality has an application and use case for any industry, though it may become a higher priority in the future for organizations that operate in a climate that is a) high risk, b) dependent on highly complicated machines or technology, or c) relies heavily on interpersonal aptitudes, situational awareness, or advanced psychomotor skills. In all of these climates, repetitive, real-world conditioning is imperative to success within an individual position or group activity.
Take the example of an organization that operates in the healthcare realm. With virtual reality training, high-pressure situations or medical emergencies can be simulated where doctors and surgeons must act quickly to aid patients with severe conditions. Physicians and surgeons can also practice new treatment methods or procedures in a realistic environment without any patient implications, and lab technicians or other healthcare professionals can practice using advanced medical machinery without incurring the cost of using the actual machines by leveraging the power of virtual reality. Immensely powerful for healthcare organizations, virtual reality training has the potential to dramatically improve the accuracy of a multitude of medical processes and procedures.
Though this is just one example, it is a powerful one that won’t be ignored. Despite what many nay-sayers believe, virtual reality is here to stay, and it’s going to transform the way we learn, work, and grow.
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