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3 Keys To Successful Training with Augmented Reality

AR supports 3 critical training objectives: increasing engagement, boosting memorability and inspiring empathy.

Augmented Reality (AR) has the special ability to layer information, images and virtual objects on top of physical world. It creates immersive experiences, blending visual, kinesthetic and spatial sensing.

AR provides immersive experiences from a mobile device such as your phone—without headsets, glasses or expensive technology. Users gain a visual-kinesthetic experience, due to varied AR objects and physical world variability. This offers learners fresh ways to interact, unencumbered by hardware. This is having a big impact on corporate training and development.

Let’s take a closer look.

Building Successful Training Experiences


Engagement is not only a critical priority for training, but also an essential business strategy. Just look at the statistics on engagement:

A 2019 Gallup study confirms that employee engagement is up to 34%. It should be good news, as it is an uptick. But not really. The report finds that of the remaining 66%, 51% of the U.S. workforce is fully not engaged. They are indifferent, dislike their work and looking for a reason to be inspired.

What is this costing organizations? According to a report by The Engagement Institute, disengaged employees cost U.S. Companies up to $550 billion a year.

Contrast this with what happens in teams who are highly engaged. As noted in a Forbes article:

• Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability

• Engaged teams realized 41% reduction in absenteeism

• Top engaged teams have 59% less turnover

Show-Not-Tell with AR

AR offers an ideal way to ‘show-not-tell.’ Participants in a highly engaging training take part in full immersion, wayfinding, and game-like interaction with physical settings and visual imagery.

With AR, training has the potential to engage the unengaged, as well as boost communication in highly engaged teams.


Cognitive science studies confirm the challenges of forgetfulness. It’s all too easy to forget information—even important information:

• After one hour, people retain less than half of the information presented.

• After 24 hours, people forget more than 70% of what was taught.

• After 6 days, people forget 75% of the information taught in training.

Yet, much traditional training relies on delivery that produces this poor result. It may explain that in 2018, corporations in the United States spent 87.6 billion dollars on training.

Light Up Brain Activity with AR

A study by Neuro-Insight found AR experiences create almost three times the level of activity in the part of the brain responsible for memory, compared to non-AR experiences.

Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, UK, notes, “We’ve researched brain response to many different media, and this study has shown that AR delivers exceptionally high attention levels - 45% higher than the average we see for TV viewing or general online browsing.”

AR full immersion offers a key to unlock how to skyrocket memory in training.

Inspiring Empathy

Empathy is an essential aspect of emotional intelligence—identifying one’s own emotions and being mindful of others.

Empathy is linked to work environments where employees feel respected and empowered. Recent studies confirm that:

• 96% of employees believe empathy is an important way to advance employee retention

• 92% feel empathy remains undervalued

Further, CEOs and employees have mixed perspectives, as

• 92% of CEOs feel their organization is empathetic yet

• 50% of employees say their CEO is empathetic

“Every organization should see empathy as something that’s a growing cultural value,” states Jon Shanahan, CEO of Businessolver. In HR Dive, Shanahan notes, “Rapid changes in the workforce, including greater diversity, require a different way of thinking about how companies can align with the values employees have.”

Whether you run a customer-facing business, health services organization or a manufacturing site, inspiring empathy touches every part of every business, every day. It connects to qualities that are measurable. It ignites qualities that are also challenging to measure: openness, creativity and innovation.

Empathy plays a role in areas of training including:

• New hire orientation

• Customer service

• Emergency responsiveness

• Leadership development

• Sales skills

• Teamwork

Many initiatives on empathy focus on mindfulness and well being, starting with company wide initiatives for health. This starting place naturally opens the way for applying empathy to the growing demand for ‘soft skills’ training such as:

• Adaptability

• Analytical reasoning

• Collaboration skills

• Communication skills

• Creativity

• Mindfulness training

• Persuasion

Inspire Empathy with AR:

Current studies suggest that immersive AR trainings inspire empathy.

In a Venturebeat article, Ketaki Shriram notes, “Carefully crafted augmented reality games can bring people together and inspire empathy, kindness and understanding.” One study shows that after taking on the identity of a piece of acidifying coral in virtual reality, people were more likely to show empathy towards the ecosystem.

Providing employees with the ability to envision the future, experience processes directly and delve into rich learning environments is the home-zone of augmented reality technology. Using AR to inspire empathy and understanding is a perfect use case for training and development.

In Summary

AR trainings can positively impact employee engagement, memory retention and empathy. Imagine the rewards of fostering a highly engaged, tuned-in, empathetic workforce. Augmented Reality is a technology that is uniquely positioned to transform training.

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