Employee Experience

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

What is VR?

VR stands for “Virtual Reality” and denotes an emerging technology solution. VR is immersing gamers, patients, students, combat troops, and corporate learners in their recreational and professional domains of choice.

Let’s delve into how VR experiences are emerging as a positive force in the world, starting with why VR is such a powerful tool in the first place.

What happens in the VR headset?

Magic happens inside the headset. VR takes your brain to another place through complete immersion, which makes it an amazing tool for learning.  

When you put on the VR headset, you can look all around you and see and hear a virtual world nearly identical to real life. Mentally and emotionally, you feel like you are in that situation.

There are several scientific principles that VR is able to maximize, unlike any other forms of immersion like roleplay and 2D simulations.

  • Embodiment: VR experiences create a full-body experience that increases user engagement.
  • Perceptual fidelity: Interactions in the virtual environment mimic the physical world to activate the same neural pathways in the brain.
  • On-demand repetition: Use it as many times as you want or need, depending on the use case. 
  • Real-time feedback: In VR, users make decisions in the virtual environment just like they would in the real world, and those decisions have a direct impact on the experience.
  • Emotional fidelity: The VR experience invokes a sense of presence that creates realistic emotional responses.

The scientific principles that compose effective VR experiences are married to the need to design realistic experiences. Enter spatial design.

Spatial design creates the magic in the VR headset 

Spatial design is the methodology for building and developing VR content. 

The principles of spatial design create and enhance the feeling of immersion for users in virtual experiences. When instituted properly, a VR user is able to suspend their disbelief, engage with the virtual environments as if they were real, and feel a sense of presence.

  • Spatial presence occurs when a user loses the sense that they are in a VR experience; it becomes real.
  • Self-presence leads users to believe they have agency within the virtual world – in other words, looking around and interacting because their actions have an impact.
  • Social presence provides users with people to interact with in the experience. They act and speak in ways that make the user feel part of the world..

Let’s look at some areas where VR is already making a difference.

What is VR in the enterprise?

According to HBR, 87% of enterprise  organizations have tried VR (and AR) as a training tool to immerse their workers in a unique form of on-the-job training. At Strivr, we call this Immersive Learning

Immersive Learning is an experiential training methodology that uses VR to simulate real-world scenarios and train learners in a safe and engaging immersive training environment. At Strivr, we combine the sense of presence of VR with learning theory, data science, and spatial design to improve effectiveness and user engagement. 

Our approach comes from decades of neuroscience research, and it’s our goal to  improve learner engagement, preparedness, knowledge retention, and confidence. 

Explore Strivr’s platform

What is VR for the gamer?

A well-known use case of VR is video games. 

Video game companies have been using VR and AR games to cater to gamers as far back as the 1980s. The gaming environment allows gamers to be the “hero” in the game and interact with the virtual environment. 

VR has evolved over the years to even attract non-gamers with addictive, fun, and easy-to-learn games, such as Beat Saber.

While VR-based video games are fun, VR offers so much more than just recreational entertainment. 

What is VR for a nursing home patient?

Nursing home patients can experience loneliness and feeling stuck in one place. Sometimes these patients have difficulty remembering things, especially short and near-term experiences. 

VR is already making a difference in the lives of these patients. A VR experience can allow patients to attend a wedding, see their childhood home, or visit another meaningful place. They can be transported to a nature walk, or even outer space, which helps stimulate their minds and bodies. 

What is VR for the armed forces?

While VR and AR technologies have been sold to video game consumers since the 1980s, the Pentagon has also leveraged this technology to train service members in all branches of the armed forces to optimize performance. 

Whether you are learning aerial combat in a simulator before you hit the cockpit or are infantry or special operations team members learning to clear a room, a virtual environment immerses the service member in their craft

Just like for enterprises, they collect analytics that give officers and their enlisted leaders performance insights on where to improve training in their after-action reports after an operation is concluded. 

The latest headline for VR and AR technologies is the US Army’s purchase of VR headsets for the next 10 years.

What is VR doing to enhance clinical therapy?

A key foundation of successful mental health therapy is the willingness to talk about an issue. Many times that is simply the reimagination of an event or vivid description of the feelings one feels when they experience an episode of a phobia, PTSD, or traumatic memory. 

Researchers are discovering that leveraging VR to provide a patient “exposure therapy” is a powerful and effective attempt at helping a patient engage, confront, and process those same phobias, disorders, and trauma. 

While this technology is a powerful tool for helping the patient confront the issue, it also gives the therapist better insights into how to help their client. The ability for the therapist to see what their client is seeing and hearing in the virtual environment brings them closer to understanding what the client has gone through and provides a richer discussion. 

A game changing tool for business and consumers 

While the average technology enthusiast will enjoy the playful aspects of VR, AR, and virtual environments, VR has a broader application: 

  • As a training tool for both frontline and executive employees.
  • As a fun, recreational tool for gamers.
  • As a therapy for improving mental health and quality of life.  
  • As a training tool for service members in the armed forces. 

Today Fortune 500 companies are using Strivr’s enterprise software platform to conduct more than 1 million training sessions in VR. Enterprises are seeing a measurable impact in reduced training time, increased customer satisfaction, and greater overall confidence of employees. 

To understand more about VR, Immersive Learning, and Strivr’s approach we suggest reading The Ultimate Guide to Immersive Learning.

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