Advances in computer graphics and technology have already offered us opportunities to enhance training through the use of virtual environments, 3D product modelling, touch screen, and mobile devices. But there is much more to come as manufacturers continue to innovate and create even more engaging opportunities for interactive training and virtual learning experiences.
Unfortunately, many training tools and content that exist today, are still static, unintuitive, overwhelming, and disconnected from the real world. They don’t relay information as an instructor would in a live training session. Live sessions themselves however, can be expensive, limited in reach, and hard to schedule. Virtual environments can be used to replicate real scenarios in a digital environment and facilitate interactive and virtual training from practically anywhere without the need for a live instructor. This facility currently empowers companies to accelerate user learning, reduce training costs and decrease expensive live training by being Visual, Immersive and Scalable. Training can be tailored to individuals or groups and is accessible 24/7.
Instructional information can be displayed as interactive content that mirrors the real world in both ‘form’ and ‘function’. Simply put, this means it looks like the real thing, and acts like it. Particularly useful for technically challenging training and system operations and maintenance, interactive training can transform the learning experience and offer flexible options where it is difficult to get the individual to the real life equipment. It is becoming increasingly difficult to align tutors and end users with physical equipment.
Key benefits to using a fully interactive solution, include:
Unlike static text or images, 3D interactivity adds unprecedented depth to training and technical publications by turning passive observers into active, hands-on participants.
- Fault-based Scenario Training
3D interactive training available can create true-to-life immersive scenarios to troubleshoot faults and tasks as they would occur in the real world.
- Lower Training Costs
Reduce the travel costs, facility expense, and instructor fees associated with live training for operating & maintaining equipment. No need to print paper-based materials or ship equipment to and from each location.
- Train Anytime, Anywhere & Reduce Operational Risk
Train large, distributed workforces to perform complex tasks with no risk to staff or equipment, on WEB, PC, MOBILE & TABLETS.
Multiple modes of instruction to Explore, Study, Practice and Evaluate.
- Easy Deployment
Content modules are designed and developed to promote reuse of 3D content across the training curriculum. Critical updates are pushed out to the field immediately.
- Competency Management
Digital reports can be generated as a result of tracking when an individual has read/viewed training material, making it easier for management teams and tutors to keep a record of what training has been completed and when.
Interactive virtual training is currently deployed in many different industries, but is still really in its infancy. There are industries where interactive training can be extremely effective. In manufacturing, transport and logistics and engineering, for example, Simulation and Interactive 3D Visualisation can be used to train staff in how to maintain and operate machinery using interactive tools and the application of that training to the live environment can be completed with relative ease. Virtual training is also very useful for re-training or ongoing assessment, so even if an individual has been trained in a real-time environment in the first instance, there training updates can be conducted through a virtual interface, saving on ongoing training costs. Interactive training courses can help staff deliver effective after sales service too.
3D graphics and virtual environments can also be used in the retail industry, online, instore or even on touch screens within window displays. Touch screens are also used to capture visitor data (eg, brochure requests etc) and for way finding around shopping centres and large stores. The medical industry are also using technical animation as a sales tool to demonstrate products and train staff in their use and application.
In classrooms, smart boards can now be seen, which allow teachers to create a more interactive experience for their pupils. These are likely to be superceeded by fully interactive classrooms when the pupils have an element of control over what they see and learn, and the speed at which they progress.
So you may ask yourself, how can technology improve your opportunities even further?
The simple answer to this is innovation in manufacturing – The evolution of ‘Glass based’ touch screen technology.
Interactive learning is becoming the expected delivery method amongst our younger generations as tablets, smart phones and tv’s become mainstream tools in our homes, and as the mobile phone turns 40 years old and is becoming the most popular gadget in the world. But the opportunities for even greater levels of engagement is likely to mean that it will become the ‘norm’ and exist not only inside , but also outside every classroom across the globe.
Technology already exists that will facilitate interactive learning during every action that we take during our day, not just within a classroom or working environment, but it is currently unaffordable at the sort of scale required. A company called Corning have a vision of a future where transparent glass touch points could exist in our house, cars, at outdoor venues and in schools and offices (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cf7IL_eZ38). Transparent glass could be applied to doors, windows and even dashboards in cars that could be configured to produce a touch dashboard controlled by software on a mobile tablet. Further innovation in manufacturing could make this a reality in the not too distant future.
So not only can we now create 3d virtual environments and projections that you can interact with, but we will also be able to display these graphics on many different devices from small hand held tablets to large scale walls and windows. This increases the scope for our whole world to become a virtual learning environment, from learning what products are available in the interactive store window as a consumer, to selecting what to buy from the virtual supermarket, to learning how to operate heavy machinery as a skilled engineer at work or following the curriculum as a school child. Everywhere we go and look there will be a touch point that we can engage with. Physical objects may become less and less familiar to us during the course of our waking hours.
The technology will impact all of us in some way or form. It is in fact opening up opportunities for fully immersive ‘virtual’ experiences in environments that wouldn’t have previously been able to facilitate it. For example, sterile glass may now make it possible to create a virtual operating theatre to train surgeons, and other medical staff, allowing them to collaborate remotely with other experts in an emergency situation. This could also be applied to forensics labs and reduces risks involved with using real patients. Surgeons can even operate on real patients from the other side of the world via virtual and realtime interfaces.
Touch screen tables and video walls that facilitate collaborative learning can already be seen in interactive galleries in museums and heritage centres and in exhibition environments. There is no reason why the use of these will not soon be extended into our offices, classrooms, and houses globally.
Capacitive touch, which is now widely accepted, allows more than one touch at once to be recognised. It is regularly cited as one of the key drivers of smartphone popularity and allows you to pinch, zoom and twist using multiple fingers. But 2014 could be the year when touchscreens are launched which react in three dimensions, not even requiring touch to recognise what action the device should take.
A prototype of a new touch screen has been developed that would allow apps and devices to be controlled using human (3D) gestures. A small USB device that you plug into your computer consisting of cameras and led lights, recognises, to an unbelievable degree of precision, your hand movements. Although Nintendo have already made strides towards this with their Wii devices, further development has the potential to change the way we interact with virtual environments and video games in the future, opening up a further wealth of opportunity when it comes to learning.
Transparent interactive signage already exists and can be informative, aesthetically pleasing and interactive. However, opportunities exist for the execution of this technology on a much larger scale if manufacturers can find a solution to hiding electronics and cables whilst retaining optical clarity. Transparent screens could create walls in large open spaces that remain clear when there is no display, but become an interactive show that enhances the landscapes when in use (known as “Smart Glass”).
Augmented reality is another up and coming educational tool. This allows for real environments to be augmented with additional relevant content (in 3D) through the use of transparent glass tablets with onboard 3d cameras.
The endless opportunities we have available to us are causing not only a significant shift in the way we communicate and engage technology, but are creating a future of ubiquitous displays, open operating systems, shared applications, cloud media storage and unlimited bandwidth . What have previously been obstacles, may now become an obtainable reliable reality.
Inspired by the innovative opportunities that might be open to you? Get in touch with us and we can help you make them become a reality! Email [email protected] or call 01908 522532.