Can immersive technologies usher in a new era in learning?
We have been hearing about Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for quite some time now with VR gaming sets like Oculus and Vive being touted as game changers in the entertainment industry. However, lately there has been a marked increase in the adoption of AR and VR and other immersive technologies in the corporate sector which is beginning to see value in them specially in the post Covid era.
Sports action in competing scenarios, navigation during difficult flight paths, coping with war zone dynamics are some of the examples where AR/VR, Mixed Reality (MR) and Extended Reality (XR) applications have been used for equipping personnel with the required skills before embarking on their mission. Some of these technologies are beginning to be deployed in the context of remote working and remote training by the corporates. With a large number of employees still expected to work from home in the foreseeable future, skilling them effectively to adapt to the emerging needs of the business is becoming a priority for organisations.
Employees handling assignments that are mission-critical and are working with hazardous materials or high-risk environment are able to mitigate the risk by being trained in an immersive environment ahead of their deployment. Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 Remote Assist on HoloLens applications used for field service repairs and training are now being used for remote support and advanced expertise in medical scenarios where medical expertise are not to be found. The MET in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Vatican Museum in Rome and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are examples of museums that have enabled thousands of art aficionados from around the world to visit the galleries virtually.
The National Gallery of Prague has been enabling those with visual disabilities see, touch and feel the 3D sculptures with the help of a pair of haptic gloves. Healthcare workers who are required to be trained speedily and get themselves acclimatised to the patient environment with the constraint of physical presence for such familiarisation are seeing the benefit of AR/VR based training. The programme being developed by NIELIT and CII in India is an example of this application. Product companies are working on enhancing the user experience with the help of immersive technologies and soon virtual interactions would be vastly superior and different from the current methods. Immersive experience together with analytics led targeted content have the potential to transform the way we communicate, interact and assimilate learning.
Creativity, instructional design, domain knowledge and technical knowhow of immersive technologies have to come together to be able to create the pathbreaking and innovative learning experience. Several provinces in China are earmarking dedicated spaces as VR villages offering grants to support content development and nurture the startups. Such models could be emulated and we too need to plan for labs to be set up in various locations across the country to encourage new ideas for experimentation and to energise the startup eco system around immersive technologies.
The EMRCs across the country have some of the state-of-the-art studios and digital infrastructure but they are under utilised. These centres could be encouraged to create partnerships with the private sector specifically with the view to build capability for learning content creation with the emerging immersive technologies. With the systematic plan it is possible to empower Indian talent and make them equipped with a whole range of skills to meet the global shortage and demonstrate that India could be a true knowledge power.
The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company