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Virtual Training for a post COVID world

Whenever and wherever an actual experience in an actual environment presents an unacceptable risk or danger; would incur exorbitant costs; is unavailable; impossible or impractical, then a virtual experience in a virtual environment is the way to go – welcome to Mersus Technologies.

We design and build virtual environments that can be entered, explored, interacted with, manipulated, and learned from in an experience that is as close to the actual environment as we can make it.

Our team of artists, animators and developers design environments so that you experience it as if you were really there. Using our proprietary headsets, we create the illusion of reality so that you can figuratively enter the simulated world and be immersed in it until you remove the headset.

The technology to generate virtual reality has been around for a while – we keep improving it and finding new ways to use it – a technology that will persuade our brains to “believe” that what is being presented to the senses is real, when it is not, has immense potential for a very broad range of applications. Widely used in the gaming industry, this technology is finding its way into many other fields of human endeavour and industry.

Virtual Reality – many diverse applications 

For years now, NASA has used virtual technology to prepare and train astronauts for the actual experience of their mission.

And the same technology which has enabled airline companies to train pilots using flight simulation is now being used to help young learner drivers. The devastating consequences of inattention, speed, or distraction may be chillingly demonstrated during a simulated lesson in a way that no other education medium can match.

Virtual reality is not new in the car manufacturing industry. In 2018, Volkswagen paved the way for the automotive sector with 10,000 employees trained. It aids with design, creating prototypes, inspection, problem-solving and quality control, designers, engineers. Operators can examine every aspect of a vehicles’ interior, exterior and engine to ensure it reaches ever more exacting standards before it is manufactured.

In the worlds of entertainment and tourism, Virtual reality technology is creating thrilling immersive experiences for those who love movies, sports and live music – surrounded by imagery and sound – some creating the illusion that the viewer is inside the spectacle itself.

Collaborations between technology companies and the tourism industry are opening museums, exhibitions, and exotic destinations for exploration and even interaction – these virtual spaces or environments are enabling enthusiasts to explore museums and galleries’ physical collections.

In clinical settings, virtual-reality simulations use the data provided by x-rays, scans and MRI tests to generate 3D models of a specific patient’s anatomy to help surgeons pinpoint tumors and mark incisions as well as run through and practice difficult, complex and high-risk procedures in advance.

Virtual reality technology is also being used in the mental health field to help treat PTSD. In these applications, the simulated environment is controlled by the practitioner enabling them to decide the nature and duration of what their patient may see and hear as an element of their treatment programme.

This highly adaptive technology is also to help being used in rehabilitative settings to help stroke and brain injury victims to regain motor and cognitive function.

Launching Mersus Technologies’ “Avatar Academy” 

Within the life sciences industry, training is essential for cleanroom personnel in order to comply fully with the standards and requirements demanded within aseptic processing environments. 

Mersus Technologies is launching “Avatar Academy” a training academy which harnesses the potential of virtual reality technology to create a simulated world in which users experience optimal training conditions in a controlled and protected environment. 

Those entering this virtual world can work their way through complex tasks; navigate and understand operational procedures;  familiarise themselves with industry standards and regulations – making virtual mistakes, committing virtual omissions and taking virtual risks – all the while gaining real world experience. 

And because this is taking place in a virtual world, this learning and education is taking place without breaching compliance, without compromising the integrity of aseptic environments, without risking the contamination of finished products and without posing any kind of risk to the trainee or colleagues. 

Entering a 360° active learning environment, users encounter simulated typical scenarios; experience high-risk aseptic processing tasks with virtual hands-on practical exercises and learn both the theory and practice of the procedures they need to learn. Trainees’ performance and knowledge is tested, evaluated and recorded as they complete each module. 

A 2020 PWC report on the effectiveness of Virtual reality training, found that  Employees trained using VR completed training faster …four times faster in VR than in the classroom and 1.5 times faster than e-learn. The reports state that employees were: 

  • 275% more confident to act onwhat they learned after training
  • 4x faster than classroom training on average
  • 4x more focused than e-learners
  • 3.75% more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners

Physical lockdowns have led to an increase in the use of remote working.  Businesses will have to adapt to new work and training methods. Virtual conferencing users have increased dramatically. Numbers have jumped from 10m in January 2019 to 300m by April 21st for the popular Zoom conferencing application. There are growing concerns for the psychological effects of video conferencing. Issues arise where people have to spend a lot of time looking at themselves. This can be distracting in terms of how we look and how people see us. According to Yseult Freeney, an associate professor, organisational psychology at DCU, “online meetings tend to take a greater physical and mental toll because we are working harder to pick up verbal and body language cues”

From the PWC report we can see that VR-trained learners were up to 4 times more focused during training than their e-learning peers and 1.5 times more focused than their classroom peers.   “The largest challenge with the e-learn training was the inability to control learner attention.  They could easily be distracted and focus elsewhere during the “watch” portions of the training”.   This can also be said of video conferencing.  When you think about how VR works, it’s easy to understand why users would be less distracted with this technology: The simulations and immersive experience command their vision and attention.

In our post COVID world, Avatar Academy offers a tangible solution to the travel restrictions companies all over the world are facing – we can support multiple users operating in the same virtual environment so all users worldwide participate simultaneously in real-time training sessions by means of their own avatar. 

Upskilling your workforce; faster; in a safe and controlled environment and improving everyone’s performance, with data-driven insights – this is what we do at Avatar Academy.