How 3D Models & XR are Changing Training

In their first guest piece for the VNTANA blog, Cortney Harding, CEO and Founder of the award-winning XR agency, Friends with Holograms, discusses the importance of high-quality 3D models and their innovative use in AR and VR training. Friends with Holograms is a transformational VR/AR agency focused on creating innovative, powerful, and effective experiences for training in the Fortune 100.

Using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) for training has become a hot topic in the last few years, with several companies adopting the technology to educate new employees.

But not all extended reality (XR) training is created equal, and in some cases, companies have invested heavily only to find marginal gains in productivity, or none at all. One of the key factors that leads to the success of a VR/AR training program is realism — and for many training simulations, that type of realism can only be achieved by using high-quality 3D models.

Think about the types of hard skills training where XR would have the greatest return on investment. A simple piece of equipment, for instance, is relatively easy to train someone on using traditional methods like in-person training or watching a video. But the more complicated the machine, the more difficult it is to teach someone — and it’s more likely that if someone makes a mistake and breaks the machine in training, fixing it will cost a lot more. So when thinking about what types of training to invest in, it makes sense to focus on equipment that is more expensive, technical, and complicated. 

Unfortunately, cheap 3D models can render this training useless. If a trainee can see the exact level of detail they’ll see in the real world, they’re not getting the proper training they need. They need to see every model in high fidelity in order to have a complete understanding of what they’re learning — and cutting corners on 3D models won’t get a business where they want to be. 

Ideally, businesses are investing in building out their 3D content libraries now, so they have a good base once they start producing training content in XR. After all, the results of XR training are excellent — one project my agency worked on resulted in an 18% decrease in employee turnover for one client and a 75% cost reduction for another. XR training has been shown to result in a 75% increase in learning quality and retention compared to traditional training; lead to a 40% reduction in training time; and have a 76% increase in learning recall and effectiveness. 

There are upfront costs associated with creating this training — but the more widely it is deployed, the lower the cost per learner works out to be. If trainees are learning highly technical procedures, they likely have to travel to a specialized training facility and be trained by someone with a high level of expertise — both those costs go away with XR. They are also able to make as many mistakes as they need while in the headset, with no additional cost of repairing equipment. Finally, this means training is standardized across the board — even the best trainer has an off day, whereas the headset always works. 

XR training has many advantages in terms of cost and scalability — but it only really works if all parts of the training are the highest possible quality. Organizations need to invest in great 3D models in order to unlock the true potential of this technology.