The lifesaving power of virtual reality


“I saw your experience a few days ago, and I just have to ask 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. 


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.