Improve VR training experiences with animated characters

You’re in a classroom or in front of your computer. Somebody explains a long, complicated safety procedure to you. How much of it do you remember afterwards? Not enough, if you’re like most of us. That’s why we use Virtual Reality to help companies teach and train their employees and help educational institutions do the same with their students.

VR gives us possibilities that extend the realm of what’s possible in videos, manuals, and even in real life, making it a great training tool. Recently, we started introducing animated characters in VR training experiences, after we discovered that people tend to forget what they have been told in audio or writing. And it works.

A positive effect on learning retention

Through testing on a group of maritime students, we found that by using animated characters in VR training, we can significantly improve learning retention. Adding characters to an experience makes the training a lot more fun, and more importantly, it increases the efficiency of the training.

Instructions and information given in VR training are crucial to learning, and we found that viewers understand and remember more of what they hear when they hear it from animated characters rather than just a voice over.

Adding a human layer

As humans, we respond to social and emotional cues. And when we combine verbal communication with the presence of a character, with all that that entails, it adds a human layer to the experience, increasing our understanding and memory of for instance instructions.

“It’s our experience that we enhance the effect of the information given in the experience when emotions can be added through for instance facial expressions and body language,” says David Schmidt, animator at Virsabi.

It’s important that it’s as smooth as possible when for instance an animated instructor smiles and points at an object in the experience. That’s why our animators put their specialized skills to use in their work with animating characters down to the smallest detail.

Used in practice

We have developed VR Safety, a safety training tool where animated characters take the viewer through safety training exercises. SIMAC, Denmark’s largest maritime education center, uses VR Safety with their maritime students as part of a project in collaboration with Marstal Navigation School supported by the Danish Maritime Fund.

The student puts on a pair of VR glasses and is placed in a maritime training scenario where he or she must point out correct and incorrect behavior performed by animated characters. VR Safety is a tool for the teacher to use in the classroom, making the training come alive.

One of the characters the student meets in the scenario is an animated mentor who takes the student through safety training aboard a ship. Speech, facial expressions, and body language are all used for information, instructions, and praise after correctly performed exercises.

The effect of adding animated characters in VR Safety is more efficient safety training, saving SIMAC money and letting the students set sail sooner.

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