In today’s uncertain and chaotic world, project onboarding has taken a completely different shape. And why wouldn’t it? Many new technologies were changing the corporate landscape, even before the pandemic catalyzed the need for remote work.
One, specifically, has a lot of potential in the project onboarding and planning world: virtual reality, or VR. For project planning, development, and general onboarding programs, VR is going to be revolutionary. With VR, users enter a digital environment that can be manipulated and experienced, much like the real world. Users can explore a project site without ever leaving their desk. They can also visualize and model products, goods, and other items with an advanced set of virtual tools.
Often associated with video games and entertainment, immersive technologies also have incredible potential in the practical world. Launched in 2014, Google Glass was an innovative venture that merged the virtual and physical world through a mere pair of glasses.
While wearing Google Glass or other forms of AR or Mixed Reality (MR) devices, digital content is presented in real-time to the user as they traverse their environment. Even in its most basic form, the technology has sweeping implications for retail, manufacturing, and other industries. The technology will revolutionize project onboarding and planning, especially during the pandemic. Here’s how.
Staring at a wall of text and traditional information can be interesting for some. But for many, it can be a productivity-killer. More importantly, people tend to retain visual information and experiences better. MIT has proven that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
During the MIT study, scientists asked subjects to identify a single image as they were presented with a series of 6 to 12 pictures, for anywhere between 13 to 80 milliseconds. The idea was to discern whether they could pick out specific images during a rapid-fire process. It worked, and they were able to do so. The human brain is capable of processing an image in 13 milliseconds.
The improved retention applies not only to visualized data but also experiences, which is something VR technologies can provide. During onboarding and planning activities, VR allows participants to truly engage with digital content through a unique interface or interpretations of data. It also allows for a more hands-on approach to developing ideas.
The Glimpse Group already provides a visualization platform as described, called D6 VR, for analyzing, presenting, and educating through VR experiences. Within the platform, users can interact with data visualizations to take a deep dive into the statistics and information being presented. It’s easier than ever to make sense of data maps, charts, graphs, and scatter plots.
Imagine seeing the conceptual product you’re developing right there in front of you, and having the opportunity to shift, manipulate, and interact with it. What about visiting a location that you’re developing or designing? These are real possibilities with VR, provided there’s a software environment at the ready.
2. It Supports Collaboration
As most digital technologies do, VR and AR platforms foundationally support collaborative experiences. Two workers, no matter how distanced, can enter the same virtual environment and interact with or develop project components. Moreover, because the environments are the same, they have access to the same tools and resources.
In theory, it would be much easier to collaborate remotely using a virtual environment through VR than it would be with a video conferencing system.
Foretell Reality, for instance, is a VR platform that enables remote, interpersonal interactions across a team or group of people. Participants can choose from a library of unique digital spaces to work in, such as a kitchen, office, or theater. Then, they engage in realistic simulations, whether that’s hosting a demonstration, brainstorming ideas, hosting a virtual course, or something else.
In VR, you can see other users and what they’re doing. With conventional remote tools, there’s a significant delay, and it’s not always possible to see what action or decision a colleague makes, let alone what part of a project they’re focused on. It opens the door to real-time interactions and reactions, remotely, throughout the scope of a project.
During 2020 and 2021, employee engagement increased, despite the difficulties presented by remote work and the related platforms. Imagine what a powerful tool like VR could do in place of something like Zoom.
Take a moment to consider how many times a project has made it through planning to the realization phase, only for someone to discover there’s an issue or obstacle in the way. Maybe something looked good on paper but didn’t turn out that way after the ball started rolling.
VR can help eliminate many of these problems early on. the opportunity to visualize projects and systems in real-time is invaluable, especially when leveraged during the pre-planning stage Team members can rework certain aspects of a project, try various configurations, run testing, visualize events and elements, and much more.
This can all be done collaboratively, too, meaning there are more eyes on the project and more opportunities to discover potential breakpoints well before they happen.
It’s not always a great idea to associate fun with involved or substantial projects. But it is important, nonetheless, that people enjoy the work they’re doing, one way or another.
VR applications and systems can be a lot of fun to work with, and because it’s a unique experience overall, they tend to be engaging, as well.
Engaging doesn’t necessarily translate to higher productivity, however, so there must be a conversion somewhere. The productivity and focus stems from the visual and dynamic experience itself. The collective features and benefits of using VR, as opposed to conventional remote tools, are what boost employee engagement. This can be enhanced even more when gamification features are incorporated thoughtfully.
It won’t always apply, especially depending on the project and where it’s being worked on, but VR experiences can be much safer.
In construction, for example, new hires and trainees can practice their trade in a virtual environment, which looks and feels precisely like the real thing. It means they’re not making mistakes or being exposed to a dangerous and operational project site while they’re still learning the ropes.
The same experiences can be offered in nearly every industry, including medical, retail, transportation, and much more. New employees, lacking experience and knowledge, can train in a virtual environment without the consequences. Through something like Continuum XR, aspiring clinicians and caregivers can take part in simulated patient-care situations. The system can be used for initial training and academics, improving skillsets, or even exploring unique situations that are rarely encountered in the workspace.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine
The Glimpse Group is a Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Platform Company Comprised of Multiple Software & Services Subsidiaries Creating Innovative VR/AR Solutions (products, software, and consulting services)