The Cost of Virtual Reality Training

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The Cost of Virtual Reality Training

In the height of digitization in training, Virtual Reality training becomes a more and more considered choice for the high quality it provides.

While the training cost for video training or web based training is already well known, the real cost of Virtual Reality for digitization of training often leaves decision makers unsure which technology to pick for their upcoming training case.

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For each training case, trainers decide for the training method where they evaluate the importance of investing in quality materials.

A training method with a lower scalability potential is usually chosen for custom and low volume trainings, while repeated trainings receive higher attention and budget.

Traditional E-learning is ineffective at teaching real procedures

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Virtual Reality training has only just taken off as an alternative to existing training methodologies for workforces who are forced to work remote. Compared to traditional E-learning, the grade of immersion and interactivity can lead to far higher retention and effective experiences.

Digitizing theoretical work is easy, but this is not the same for practical work which requires experiences about physical processes to be learnt.

Virtual Reality adresses the missing gap – if only it were simple to buy and integrate.

Practical procedures, such as hands-on processes can only be trained through interactive experiences, leaving traditional e-learning out of the option pool.

Video training, which is considered the "quality standard" puts the user in a passive state of consumption and fails on providing engaging experiences.

For trainers who value highly qualified employees, immersive technology can get workers trained without classroom or as face-to-face training.

For training departments who cannot afford retraining over and over because trainees don't remember due to ineffective training methods, experience based 3D training is becoming the viable option for the future.

VR is Effective and Scalable

Onsite real world training is questioned because of the travel costs while traditional e-learning cannot replace the learnings generated through instruction led training. Virtual Reality revolutionizes this, by being able to deliver near-real experiences on hands-on workflows.

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How much value can be derived from VR training have been published by many companies with the most famous case study being from Walmart who managed to reduce an entire instruction led onboarding training day from 8 hours to 15 minutes in 2018. Not only did they measure a 32x increase (or a 96% time reduction) but also were all new employees capable of autonomously onboarding themselves reducing training personnel costs for repetitive knowledge transfer.

Perhaps your team has already made experiences buying 3D-VR-XR pilots in the past and made the experience those projects could be as high as $100.000 and maybe not as successful as planned.

Limitations in VR Training

Organisations typically run pilots with a sample employee training only to discover the costs for full scalability are too high for the short and mid-term return. This typically does not have something to do with Virtual Reality itself, but rather with the service providers solution and its integrability and scalability capabilities where costs scale linearly with amount of trainings to be created.

Virtual Reality training experiences are often built for one specific device, like the Oculus One or the HTC Vive. A solution which is designed for one device requires an infrastructure of such hardware to be built and maintained, creating limitations or strategical lock-ins on the scalability side.

The cost of what a service provider asks to build a VR training is often misunderstood from the real cost which often includes high communication overhead internally.

Virtual Reality training experiences are categorized into VR simulations (the new form of training simulators), multi-user experiences and process-based autonomous training.

Case Study:
Buying and launching a Virtual Reality solution through a service provider

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Imagine a Manufacturer of modern heating systems. The business is thriving and an upcoming product release requires intensive training before service technicians can successfully install them onsite. The organization is also regulated, meaning that certification and thereby proof of qualification becomes a requirement.

Default-aligned image Machinery and products of all industries are subject to training procedural processes which are most effectively trained in real or virtual space.

The heating system manufacturer needs to train 400 service technicians in the next 24 months on installing the new heating system in one training center.

→ Preparation

The training manager from the service department has chosen to work with a VR service agency to develop a training program for their service technicians to train. In order to alter the existing training process and leverage the potential of the new immersive 3D training technology, the buyer has to go accomplish the following steps tasks.

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→ Determine the right strategy
→ Develop a development approach
→ Get all required 3D models and data from engineering
→ Aggregate all course knowledge
→ Start the project

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  1. Strategy

The training department has chosen to partially train the installment process using a Virtual Reality approach.

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  1. Development approach

The training department has chosen to work with a VR agency who will deliver a solution for the Oculus Quest, a VR headset which is easy to handle and affordable. To equip their training facility with the equipment, they decided to buy 10 VR devices.

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  1. 3D Data aggregation

The main data required to initiate the project is the 3D geometric data of the heating system. To access the data, the responsible training manager requested the data from the engineering department. After exchanging the specifications with input from the service agency, the engineering department exported a dataset reduced from intellectual property and ready to handle by the external service provider.

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  1. Course knowledge aggregation

For creating the contents of the course, the existing service manual has been used as a basis. Additional information of required tooling, sketches and photos has been extracted from the service ERP system.

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  1. Brief & Kickoff

With training goal in mind, 3D data available and storyboard available, the VR service provider has everything at hand for a predictable pilot quote and can start developing the application. Workshops have been held to further specify use case relevant requirements, like the logic of how the service technician had to program through the heating system in VR. In order to prove success, a performance tracking system had been requested by the service provider to be developed.

→ The Scope

For the new product training, 150 procedural steps are extracted and determined suitable for autonomous immersive training.

The overall size of the training materials intends to fill 4 hours of training.

With a planned 400 service technicians to be trained over the following 24 months the training department aims to reduce repetitive face to face training and decrease the overall training time through the more effective autonomous training materials.

→ Cost Breakdown

Default-aligned image Cost distribution for a VR training project using the market standard process

Hardware Investment – The purchase of 10 Oculus Quest One for Business 10.000€

3D Data Acquisition and Preparation – 40 hours internal Effort of getting the 3D Data, 3D modeling, breaking 3D and CAD-geometric data down for further use of the solution environment

Storyboarding costs – 40 hours preparation on 3D storyboarding and knowledge aggregation

Internal Project Management Overhead – 60 hours spent getting the project live

Content Creation Costs – VR Development effort creating VR experiences by best practise workflows

Application Development Costs – required custom effort of deploying and distributing a native VR application and custom Virtual Reality technology development

The service provider estimated an average cost of 58.000€ for the pilot. Together with the internal time and energy invest into preparing the project, the following chart shows the true spending for this first time Virtual Reality training digitization project:

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Accumulated cost for VR sessions with 150 steps:

78.000€, 58k€ external, 20k€ internal 74,4% external, 25,6% internal costs

Costs using the AUCTA platform

Customers who work with AUCTA instead of buying a VR-only training solution save costs through independent content editing, lower content creation costs and non-existent application development costs through a partially automated workflow and instant deployment through the AUCTA Player instead of native application.

Default-aligned image Creating interactive 3D training using AUCTA makes hardware investments optional and gets rid of all custom application development costs.

Default-aligned image Having the cost blocks of hardware investment and custom development falling away with AUCTA would reduce the minimal project by 45% for the service technician training case study.

→ The outcome

After development and launch, the VR training solution is installed at the training facility.

The application is manually installed on all Oculus Quest headsets.

Out of 40 hours of training, the course material of 4 hours has been digitized into a Virtual Reality learning experience with a total of 100 steps.

Out of the 400 trained service technician 15 were unable to operate the Virtual Reality environment and had to be handed out the service manual pdf. Note: Learn how AUCTA can deliver interactive 3D-VR instantly to all devices.

400 trainees can be trained over 24 months, 190€ content creation cost per trained technician. 47,5€ per performed hour of training.

Summary: Is VR Training costly?

For any investment, including training, the buying price stands in relation to the value of the outcome.

Let’s assume those 200 trainees each were able to autonomously spend 4 hours practising using the new VR training solution and thereby being able to reduce the overall training time by factor 2, conservatively speaking. With an average opportunity cost of 50€ per hour per trainee, that would be 50.000€ saved on operational costs just by time reduction alone.

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In comparison to a VR-focused solution for training, AUCTA is capable of delivering to all devices and integrating its content into the Learning Management Systems. If a typical immersive training would make for 8 training hours to be digitized, an equal one with AUCTA likely achieves double the amount of content-integration touch points by placing pieces of the content into pre-training and post-training materials into different learning environments on VR headsets, tablets, mobile phones and desktop computers. Putting the created content into real world context also allows the trainees to review training materials when onsite and when encountering the problem in real life.

What drives the cost in VR training in scale-ups and roll-outs?

Initiating a roll-out phase is great. It means that value generated can be captured on a much higher level than just in smaller test cycles.

It also forces the buyer to think about more consequences further down the line. This is where nowadays Virtual Reality training usually struggles: Individually developed applications and service providers cannot cover the challenges that come with a larger roll-out.

While the potential value can be multiplied, the costs are not allowed to multiply linearly.

The 3 main types of scale-up costs are:

Costs of massive amounts of content creation

Content management expenses through internal content editing when product updates arrive and data has to be updated Investment costs into VR hardware, and not just the hardware – an entire logistical infrastructure to distribute, retrieve, maintain and supply an entire workforce with VR equipment High amounts of VR content creation

If your service provider cannot automate content generation or has hard limits on workflow optimization you will run into a cost point that cannot be undergone. These creation costs can eat up most of the potential gains if the way your service provider creates content does not involve a significant amount of automation.

info: AUCTA provides a hybrid workflow where 3D creation and content editing are split through its XR platform. An intelligent automation and generation system enables cost-effective content creation both outsourced and internalized.

Content Management Expenses

Without a content management system, you’ll likely have a painful time calling your service provider and giving them through changes in 3D files or training content. Not only will you lose weeks in iteration just by communicating back and forth, a single update of a native application at enterprise scale can take up to 1 year if manual installment is required.

Info: AUCTA provides maximum flexibility by giving its customers the freedom to change and modify content in its cloud platform called “Manager” while its distribution technology instantly updates all content without any further work to be done.

Hardware Investment Costs

Whether you’re an industrial organization with 5.000 employees and looking to become a home-office compatible culture, or whether you’re simply trying to enable all trainees across many countries to benefit from a new VR training application, it will become obvious you will run into significant costs. Buying 10 VR devices for a training center is one thing. Buying 1000 VR devices and building the infrastructure to distribute, retrieve and manage all devices is another thing. Walmart is probably the organization with most VR devices in use with over 4000 equipped stores. It is a risk of hardware simply lying around and being unused and even worse: being obsolete after a few years.

Info: With AUCTA as a training tool you will always be able to deliver any immersive 3D-VR experience instantly into any device, even on Augmented Reality new VR technology that has not been published yet. This allows you to scale up without investing into a huge sum of VR devices and being able to focus on growing your immersive content strategy healthily, focusing on wins and not losing the freshly gained value of 3D-VR training through high investments.

Last Edited on December 16, 2020, 18:00 PM.