Virtual Training: How Digital Twins and VR are Bridging the Gap Between Learning and Doing

“I see and I forget.

I hear and I remember.

I do and I understand.”

— Confucius

There are no two ways about it, learning-by-doing is the most effective way to retain what you learn. Having said that, training on machines, while useful, often requires teaching outside normal hours of a machine’s operation or using a dedicated offline machine. Both options are scarce and expensive.

This resource bottleneck convinced many hardware companies to explore alternatives that scale their training efforts, while reducing costs. Even before any of us knew what “social distancing” was, many companies were already starting to blend in-person and online training. In parallel, the WFH (Work from Home) trend was rising fast. So the gradual migration to more online training was already happening. 3D virtual rooms are built around the digital twin and are exactly what our loyal customers asked us to build.

The virtual room can be experienced from the comfort of your PC or on your mobile device, and if you really want to jiggy, from VR headsets that allow for fully immersive learning. Now both teacher and trainees are huddled around a fully interactive high-resolution digital twin of a machine, which opens up limitless possibilities for true interactive distance learning.

The “new normal” became online Zoom style meetings and the use of static materials like 2D images or diagrams to train with. The next challenge was how to replace the valuable hands-on machine time so central to their trainees.

Upgrading training with digital twinning

A digital twin is a highly detailed digital replica of a machine with interactions built into it. These interactions allow the trainee or service technician to isolate specific parts or sub-assemblies, or to rotate the part like they would if they were holding it in their hands. More than this, digital twins allow you to view your machine from any angle up to, and including viewing the inner-workings of the machine with X-ray vision.

Training on digital twins effectively bridge the gap between learning and doing. Practicing on a digital twin rather than an expensive machine has obvious advantages. Digital twins also level-up your knowledge base by allowing your company to create a library of always-available interactive 3D models which anyone can learn on or troubleshoot with anytime, anywhere.

Virtual Reality has arrived for hardware training

Another trend that has been accelerated over the past year is the usage of VR in training. VR allows trainees to completely immerse themselves into their subject matter. All distractions are filtered out while trainees view a procedure or run through a checklist using a VR headset.

Militaries around the world have been using VR to simulate war games and test scenarios. In more recent years, companies and consumers have been attracted to VR. In 2020, 52 million Americans used VR. That number was climbing before the pandemic and has only accelerated since.

After Covid-19, many hardware companies are asking our firm to create VR procedures using our digital twins. Here’s a video as an example of a digital twin that one client ported to VR for training purposes:

Hardware companies are really just a collective of people. And people adapt to their environment. One incredible thing about living through this difficult, albeit interesting epoch of history is witnessing the practice of the adage, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Blending in-person training with virtual training may be a silver lining akin to some of the others we have benefited from like more family time, less time commuting and others.

If you would like to try on our virtual training platform? 
Schedule a Demo & a Free Trial – HERE

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