By Dan Pelton
The concept of virtual reality has been with us for nearly half a century. It is not all that new.
More recently, however, it has emerged from science fiction and is quickly becoming a part of everyday life. In short, the technology of virtual reality (VR) is becoming … actual reality.
For example, airlines have been utilizing flight simulators for years to train their pilots.
These virtual cockpits are a complex and expensive, albeit necessary, method to ensure optimum passenger safety.
Virtual reality, meanwhile, has reached a point where its cost has substantially decreased and its applications have broadened to a point where VR is now a tool that can be used by a number of different areas.
Among VR’s proponents is Rick Smith, senior director of global product training at JLG; a global manufacturer of aerial work platforms and telehandlers based in McConnellsburg, Pa.
The nature of JLG’s business demands that users of its product be well versed in its operation.
With virtual reality, Smith says the company is achieving “realistic experience in a safe environment” when it comes to training.
Augmented reality is essentially a real time scenario–such as video conferencing—that can be accompanied by such things as graphics and other supplementary visuals. Virtual reality is entirely electronically generated.
“The cost of the hardware is coming down,” Smith points out.
“In the past six months, I would say computer and VR costs have been cut by one half.”
While JLG strives to be on the cutting edge of this technology, Smith figures VR is a concept that is in its relative infancy.
“I really think we are just at the beginning,” he said. “The ability to use VR as a classroom is mind blowing. Virtual reality is going to do phenomenal things when it comes to education.”
To demonstrate that VR offers JLG’s clients more than just a video-conferencing training session, let’s present a hypothetical situation where Johann in Amsterdam is encountering a problem that is unique to his warehouse.
Trainers in McConnellsburg know that Bob in Montana has encountered something very similar. He is put in touch with Johann and the two have access to all the VR technology to work out a solution. JLG, meanwhile, is also there to lend its expertise.
What we have is both a virtual classroom and a brokerage for ideas and worldwide brainstorming.
JLG at VPPPA
Smith will be making a presentation at the 2017 National Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association (VPPPA) symposium, which will be held Aug. 29 to Sept. 1 in New Orleans.
He intends to leverage JLG’s training and technology expertise, while demonstrating the use of virtual in the company’s aerial work platform operator training.
“People who are training people are always looking for a better tool,” says Smith. “If they see something that improves (training procedures), they are all in.”