AR & VR training as it relates to the Baby Boomer manufacturing-exodus

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What or who is a Baby-Boomer and how does the term apply to AR & VR training?

According to the good folks at Google, a Baby Boomer refers to a member of the demographically large generation born between the end of WWII and the mid-1960s. Because of their numbers and the relative prosperity of the US (and global) economy during their careers, the baby boomers are an extremely economically influential generation. This demographic’s prominence in the industrial and manufacturing industries is no less dominant.

Baby boomers are retiring. This generation has reached an age at which they had always considered “scaling down” to be the logical next/last step. They have knuckled down, followed the rules, put in the hard yards and, for the most part, reached their ambitions. The qualities which characterised their peer group – loyalty, work ethic, independence and self-assuredness have stood them in good stead. The now-impending void in terms of skill and experience is a problem in more areas than most industries care to mention of even acknowledge. Every sector needs to train its new workers quickly and effectively.

To make matters worse, the future prospects of industry, MILLENNIALS are twice as likely as baby boomers to worry about automation causing them to lose their job. Pair this fact with the notion that outdated and archaic methods of training is pretty much commonplace, where this Generation Z’s education is concerned, and you have yourself the very base ingredients for a skills-gap nightmare.

Millennials are digital natives, most of them born with pad/pod or tablet in-hand. They thrive on immediate gratification and have to be constantly engaged. Shorter attention spans are also evident of this generation, where micro-learning and “information nuggets” form an integral part of their learning style. They prefer precise learning with bite-sized content instead of going through elaborate lessons. Learning and training have to become a fully immersive experience through the use of VR headsets, allowing users to move through scenarios and places as if they were doing it in real life. As a generation weaned on computer gaming, millennials respond very well to virtual environments.

AR has also proved itself to be a key tool for training.  With AR’s ability to create a see-through effect and merge the physical and virtual worlds, it can help create more successful interactive training scenarios. VR boasts large field-of-view and complete immersion capabilities, however, creating VR experiences can be time consuming and expensive.  AR has now emerged as significant resource for instruction curriculum as well.  With AR’s ability to create a see-through effect, and merge real and virtual worlds, it can help create interactive training sessions.

Many AR companies already offer tools that allow users to create their own augmented training procedures. While simple training procedures can be created for smartphones and tablets, advanced training programs require more sophisticated hardware, such as Real Wear glasses and the Microsoft HoloLens. To create advanced training applications, trainers perform various tasks step by step (bite-sized learning) while wearing the smart gear and recording all their steps along with voice instructions. In this process instruction impresses on two senses (visual and auditory). Trainers can also add augmented objects, instructions, and labels to their training applications. The process has a very real blended learning base, incorporating different mediums. Once a training application is created, trainees can reuse the same program multiple times. Trainees wear the AR hardware and are given step-by-step instructions. As they complete each step, AR application recognises this and gives the trainees the next instruction. This way, AR helps create interactive training sessions that offer trainees a hands-on experience.

The question of whether or not Millennials’ needs need to be catered to has become obsolete. This generation is the immediate future and rather than incorporate the head-strong attitudes of the exiting Baby Boomers, industries (across the board) need to take a leaf out of the Generation Z playbook and adapt to evolve.

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