UK startup Immerse provides businesses with the platform and tools to create and distribute their own virtual reality (VR) applications. The technology is being used by companies as a cost-effective way of engaging employees in training that uses immersive video and audio to simulate real-life scenarios.
Immerse is targeting the aerospace, logistics, transportation, manufacturing, energy, and oil and gas sectors. DHL and Inmarsat are among its customers.
DHL is using Immerse’s VR training in its Certified International Specialists (CIS) program, a $40 million dollar motivational/development/leadership program for all 500,000 of its employees, says Hannah Lindsay, Immerse’s Commercial Director.
DHL’s CIS has eight training program categories globally and VR is a key part of its digital strategy. “The pilot we are currently building (for DHL) is stage one of a very aggressive roll-out plan globally over the next three years,” Lindsay says.
“DHL recognized that a new technology is a great way of engaging the employees and also getting people to do online training themselves,” says Lindsay. “Every single employee has a tablet and can download different programs.”
VR is a good fit for logistics training, she says. “If a cargo plane is loaded wrong a plane can fall out of the sky. VR is a safe way to fail, you are immersed in a 3D environment that allows you to simulate a real time loading of the plane and real hangar experience. Employees feel like they are picking up boxes so they have muscle memory and with our technology they can dive in from anywhere in world, reducing the cost on traveling and reducing the number of trainers required.”
VR training and refreshers also work well with warehouse employees, says Lindsay. DHL is planning a global pilot with Immerse to test this use case.
Safety training is another big area for VR, says Lindsay. Immerse won a contract with a large oil and gas company to do fire hazard training and emergency drills at two of its refineries.
VR can be helpful for training in just about every industry, says Lindsay. Immerse’s software development kit aims to help companies reduce the price of building virtual reality solutions. Its platform also includes analytics to help companies gauge the effectiveness of the training, she says.
Immerse started out as Immerse Learning, offering non-VR 3D solutions for enterprises. The company pivoted to VR after affordable VR headsets came onto the market. A first version of its platform was used to deliver projects for customers that included GlaxoSmithKline, Qinetiq and PWC.
After raising funding in 2016 the company introduced its software development kit and 3D model import capabilities. This production version has been used to implement projects for customers that include Inmarsat, Ernst & Young and DHL.
Other VR startups targeting corporate training include the US’s Strivr, which counts Walmart, Visa and Bank of America amongst its customers.