“I saw your experience a few days ago, and I just have to ask you...is that little girl OK?”
The woman who came up to us after our SXSW panel on our Accenture piece, AvenueS, was genuinely concerned. She has seen the piece a few days earlier when we demoed it as part of the Innovation Awards finalist showcase, and she confessed she hadn’t stopped thinking about it. We were happy to tell her that the little girl was in fact an actress, she was fine, had lovely parents and was by all accounts well cared for. And while her response is a credit to the writing, directing, and acting in the piece, it’s also a testament to the power of virtual reality to make situations memorable and deeply affecting.
We thought about this again when, in the wake of the horrible shootings in El Paso, the CEO of Wal-Mart said that he believed the store’s VR training had helped save lives. There are lots of stats about the efficacy of VR training -- that it has a 75% increase in learning quality and retention when compared to traditional training methods; that it can reduce training time by 40%; and that it results in 70% performance improvement -- but this is probably the starkest example of how it can actually prevent the loss of life. And sure, it might cost a little more than some other training methods, but how does that stack up when you consider that it might mean one more person goes home to their family at the end of the day?
Great VR pieces can also help employees be prepared for challenging and unusual situations. Cortney’s nephew has Down’s Syndrome and is non-verbal, so when we saw this story about an airline refusing to accommodate a non-verbal autistic man who was seated away from family members, we were instantly heartbroken for the family -- and thought about how VR could be used to help airline employees deal with situations like this one with more empathy and kindness. This might not be something airline employees face every day and are trained for, and VR is a scalable way to help prepare them for these types of situations. Again, weigh the costs of creating a VR piece against the bad press, lawsuits, settlements, and crisis communications, not to mention basic human decency, and it makes a lot of sense.
If anything in these paragraphs above has spoken to you, please drop us a line. We’d love to help you build something that has an impact and makes a change.
WHAT WE’RE UP TO NEXT
The excellent folks at the training agency Curious Lion are hosting a webinar on VR and training, and we’re honored to be the expert panelists. The webinar takes place on September 12 at noon EST and a link to sign up is here.
Cortney will be speaking at the VR Tech Summit on September 9 in NYC and XRS Week October 16-18 in San Francisco. And we are still encouraging folks to call their reps and ask them to support HR 4103, the VR TECHS Act, to help establish guidelines and best practices to train federal employees in VR. We are also working on an event around this bill in NYC and should have more to announce soon.
The 2019 Virtual Reality Technologies Enabling Coaching and Honing Skills (VR TECHS) in Government Act (H.R. 4103), introduced by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., would create a federal advisory committee headed by the General Services Administration to develop ways to use virtual reality products for federal employees’ professional development. The committee would be tasked with establishing best practices for using virtual, augmented and mixed reality technology to train employees and to share those with agencies.
Full article here.
The Friends With Holograms team will be in Boston August 5th and 6th and would love to meet with and demo for some great folks. Drop us a line if you’d like to connect.
As other pieces on this site outline, the near future of retail is certainly going to be exciting. But even in the present, there are simple technical innovations that can change not only the retail experience but the lives of some of our most marginalized and vulnerable populations — not as sexy as robots gliding around to bring you a perfectly coordinated ensemble, but powerful nonetheless.
Read the full piece here
Last week, we spent two days at the R Lab Well event, where MaryKate Mahoney, the head of VR for healthcare at HP, presented the stat in the subject line. In fact, it seems like every other week we're sharing some excellent data about the benefits of training in VR, and it's only a matter of time before everyone catches up and start producing VR training content.
But maybe your organization is a little behind the curve. Your boss, or your boss's boss, still thinks videos that no one watches are just fine for employee training. Well, fear not -- our workshops are the absolute perfect first step to engaging with us and arming your team with all the knowledge and data they need to sell in the concept of VR training. We'd love to help you get up to speed so that your company doesn't get left behind.
Cortney also presented a session about user design and VR at the event, and in honor of Rick Owens winning the CFDA award for best menswear designer, dressed like him for the occasion.
VR TRAINING AND RETAIL
We were very excited to contribute a piece to an amazing new Medium blog called the Near Future of Retail. Helmed by two of our absolute favorites, Tony Parisi and Neil Redding, the site is a fascinating deep dive into how we'll shop in the next several years. We wrote about using VR for job screening in customer service roles, and how that can help marginalized communities find their way back into the job market. We're actively looking for a partner to help us build this vision -- if that's you, let us know.
WHAT WE'RE UP TO NEXT
On Tuesday, we're shooting an amazing new project, with more details to come in due time. This weekend, Cortney will be judging the XR Brain Jam at XR for Change; she'll also being speaking there next Monday and AvenueS, our project with Accenture, will be demoed throughout the event.
If you are interested in booking a member of our team to speak at an event, please feel free to drop us a line. And as always, we're looking for great partners to work with us to create amazing immersive experiences. We've already worked with Accenture, Verizon, Coke, the Air Force, DDI, and Unity -- let's add your name to the list next.
Last week, the piece we built with DDI premiered at the ATD conference in Washington, DC. There were reports of at least two people crying because the piece stuck such a nerve, but beyond that, it was a follow-up report that made us happiest. A few months ago, when we were user-testing the piece, a manager came in skeptical and walked out a convert, saying "that wasn't a conversation, that was an emotional experience." While we've so far resisted the urge to get that made into a t-shirt, we might have to in the wake of the following story. A few weeks later he came back, and said that as a result of the piece, he made sure to call on the same number of men and women in meetings he led, and pay close attention to who was speaking more and give women the opportunity to speak if he felt they weren't being heard.
Now, this is just one manager, but this still thrilled us. There are tons of stats about how effective VR is for training and changing behavior, but it is stories like this that really move the needle. Imagine this type of change at scale, and the profound impact it could have on making the workplace a more equitable and caring place.
If you want to start making a difference, let us know. We're looking for partners so we can make amazing work together
In the meantime, we're heads down on a massive project we'll be able to share later this fall, so that means fewer public speaking engagements. Our fantastic sales lead Louisa Spring will be at Augmented World Expo this week -- let us know if you'd like to meet with her for a demo or a chat. Cortney will be at R Lab Well in Brooklyn June 4 and 5, and will be leading a session on user design in VR. We are also offering a limited number of workshops for clients who need some help getting started in the space; feel free to reach out for more info.
The FWH team will be at the Association for Talent Development conference in Washington DC Monday and Tuesday, as our clients DDI premiere some of our work for them. Later in the week, our sales lead Louisa Spring will be speaking and demoing at VRX up in Boston. Drop us a line if you’d like to meet up!
Greetings from Dublin, where we had a fabulous time speaking at ARVR Innovate. There are a lot of updates to get to, but the biggest news of the last two weeks is definitely the release of the data you see in the subject line. These numbers come from an Oculus presentation at Facebook's F8 conference, and really bear out what we've been saying for ages now -- VR training works.
Think of the cost savings of having a workforce that needed 40% less training time to be ready to do great work. Think of the benefits of employees who are 70% better at their jobs. Coupled with the release of the Oculus Quest, a wireless headset with a lower price point, and the already affordable Oculus Go headset, this is set to push VR training into the mainstream.
Perhaps you're interested but a little unsure where to begin. Lucky for you, we've redesigned and rereleased our workshop offering. We start with the basics and then dig deep into the most pressing problems your organization faces and how VR can solve them. Drop us a line to find out more.
In other news, we got the best team in the business back together to kick off chapter two of our award winning Accenture project. Superstar executive producer Pamela Jaber and Emmy-nominated director Kevin Cornish are back, along with a new team member, writer and subject area expert (and Harvard PhD) Holly Wood. The first chapter has moved people to tears, sparked fierce debates, and been honored at Mobile World Congress and SXSW -- who knows where we'll go with the next one?
We'll also be in Washington, DC next week for the premiere of our piece for DDI at the ATD summit, which bills itself as the world's largest talent development conference. Cortney will be holding meetings May 19-21, so please let us know if you're in the area and would like a demo.
As always, we're happy to schedule a capabilities call if you'd like to find out more.