Virtual reality (VR) technology is still early in its lifecycle, which can make people wonder what all the fuss is about. Here we’re covering some of Axon VR Training’s key benefits for agencies who are considering further exploration.
Benefit #1: VR is extremely immersive.
All training is by nature only a proxy of the real world, and different methods have their strengths and weaknesses. With Axon’s VR Training, there are two offerings: Community Engagement Training, which uses 360-video of live actors to create scenarios, and Simulator Training, which uses realistic animations created in a gaming engine. Community Engagement Training is intended to capture the subtleties and nuances of a range of human behaviors in a range of scenarios, and leverages advanced video technology to do so in a way that is more immersive than flat screens (and certainly more engaging that textbooks or slide presentations). And because of the way the brain processes images in VR, even animated scenes and characters can be interpreted as more real than 2D video images.
Without going too deep into the science, a normal video is interpreted visually as a singular, flat image like a photograph, whereas VR projects two separate images, one onto each eye, which is similar to how our eyes take in the real world from slightly different vantage points. This combines to create a full, 3D view. On top of this, VR’s advantage is that viewers can see 360 degrees around and 180 degrees overhead, which provides more complete situational awareness than flat video.
The goal of our two offerings are not to replace hands-on training, but to complement it. With its portability and easy setup and teardown, VR can offer more opportunities for training that can be done in smaller bursts, thereby reinforcing key concepts.
Benefit #2: VR creates realistic stress.
VR has been shown to effectively induce a stress response due to its immersive nature, even without haptic feedback. While some VR graphics are better than others, research has also demonstrated that 100% photorealism is not required to produce a stress response in the body. And as the technology advances with things like motion capture, we can expect even more realistic environments and characters to be rendered, including subtle facial expressions and mannerisms (think video games of the ‘80s compared to video games today). Additionally, Axon will continue to explore other forms of feedback, such as electrical impulses, that contribute to the realism of the scenario.
Benefit #3: Axon VR Training allows officers to train with duty-grade weapons in a natural way.
We have spent over 25 years training instructors on the proper use of our energy weapons, and there’s nothing we take more seriously than the proper use of our technology and the training therein. With our VR Simulator, we have incorporated the sensors into the weapons themselves vs. having to apply them externally and creating impediments to officers’ normal use and draw. Agencies can use a normal, duty TASER 7, with VR-specific cartridges that look like and weigh the same as active cartridges. Similarly, the Glock sensor has a normal feel and can be used on a regular duty belt with no alterations. Tracking software is held to the highest standards so there is no “drift”, and users can feel confident that the muscle memory being developed is accurate, and what they practice is reflective of actual skills. Additionally, feedback we hear consistently from customers is about our training requirements and two-cartridge deployment annual minimum to remain certified. The Simulator will allow agencies to practice with much more repetition than they do today without expending training cartridges, thereby developing greater accuracy with more frequent use as well as greater efficiency.
Benefit #4: Axon VR Training comes with the legal and professional services to keep your agency supported.
Axon is known for its customer-first approach to developing and deploying technology, and VR is no exception. Our team is always available to answer questions, and a robust library of Help content can also offer guidance for setup and troubleshooting.
On the content front, agencies will have access to web-based trainings that complement VR scenarios. We are working toward certification of our VR content as well. Every one of our VR scenarios undergoes extensive review by law enforcement training, medical and risk management experts, who often dedicate dozens of hours helping us refine learning objectives, finalize scripts, or advise on-scene while shooting. And should your agency be faced with a training-related concern, you can trust that Axon will stand behind you. We have a long history of supporting agencies who are facing legal challenges where training is at issue. We are well versed in training-related litigation, and we know our content inside and out, and are deliberate about every aspect of it. These things combined means we are prepared to support agencies if they’re ever faced with legal challenges related to training, be it VR or otherwise.
Benefit #5: VR technology keeps getting better.
The latest headset utilized by Axon, the VIVE Focus 3, has the highest-grade visuals and audio of any headset on the market today. A higher resolution and frame rate, as well as IPD adjusters (which refers to the distance between your eyes) create a smooth experience and help alleviate the issues with motion sickness that some users have experienced with other headsets. The Focus 3 is also a more comfortable headset, with a better weight balance and the ability to fit over glasses. Agencies also have the ability to screen-record a participant’s experience in a headset and play it like a video to use as a debriefing or teaching tool for others. The sensors, too, have been improved to make for a smoother hand-tracking experience. With these advances, VR is beginning to tap into a new frontier in training, and we expect that the hardware will only continue to progress and enable powerful new experiences.
Still curious? Please reach out to your Axon representative to see a demo or learn more.