Jim Stroud speaking at Evolve Summit in Czech Republic.

How Emerging Technology is Disrupting the Training and Development Industry

#6 | Attention Human Resources department, instead of spending so much time and money developing an onboarding program and/or a series of training initiatives, why not simply plug your workers into a matrix-like system and have that information uploaded into their brain? Easy-peasy. Now, if you think that sounds crazy, even impossible, you will be intrigued by what I share in this episode. (wink-wink) Listen in and be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode.

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The Jim Stroud Podcast explores the future of life itself by examining emerging technology,  the changing world of work, cultural trends and everything in between.

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Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

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Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast

Attention Human Resources department, instead of spending so much time and money developing an onboarding program and/or a series of training initiatives, why not simply plug your workers into a matrix-like system and have that information uploaded into their brain? Easy-peasy.  Now, if you think that sounds crazy, even impossible, you will be intrigued by what I share after this special message.

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In the famous movie trilogy – The Matrix,  the main protagonist – Neo learns Kung Fu by  plugging his brain into a computer and uploading the knowledge. Well, today we are one step closer to science fiction becoming science fact.  Recent research shows that it may be possible to enhance a human’s existing ability to learn new skills and rewrite someone’s memories. If you would indulge me, this is research example number one (of two research examples).

Lead by Matthew Phillips, the HRL Labs research team (which does R&D for the Boeing Company and General Motors) has made use of a neuro-stimulation technique called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – a noninvasive, painless shock that makes use of a constant, small electric current to excite specific brain regions. Using tDCS technique, the researchers excited certain areas in the human brain that are responsible for learning and skill retention. Translation? A little shock here, a jolt of lightning there and you will be able to learn things quicker than you have ever leaned things before.

In an experiment, HRL Labs tracked the brain data of six military and commercially trained pilots. Through transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), they inserted the same pattern in a novice while s/he learned how to pilot in a flight simulator. With this strategy, as published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, the novice pilot learned 33% faster than the group that didn’t use this strategy.

Here’s another brain experiment bringing us closer to the Matrix. Neuroscientists Stéphanie Trouche (troo-shay) and David Dupret (DU-PRAY)  from Oxford’s MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit trained mice to prefer a particular location using cocaine. Then they altered those positive associations using optogenetics—a genetic technique in which living brain cells can be manipulated or controlled with light (typically via fiber optic cables). As a result of this brain manipulation technique, the mice lost their preference for the cocaine-associated environment, suggesting to all concerned that their memory had been rewritten. What makes this experiment so significant, it that it affirmed the longstanding notion that memories are physically resident in the brain, and that they’re subject to… manipulation.

If you are in the corporate training industry then, the thought of people instantly learning new skills must have you feeling a bit uneasy; it may even have you considering other career options. Well, when it comes to uploading knowledge directly into the brain just like in the movie – The Matrix, you can relax. However, don’t get too comfortable because there are at least 2 technological advances that should concern you and they are: augmented reality and “see what I see” glasses.

If you have ever played “Pokemon Go” or opened up an iPhone app that made it look like you were breathing fire or had bunny ears, then you know exactly what augmented reality is. Now that technology is fun for you and your friends but, how does that help you at work?

Well, imagine people wearing special augmented reality glasses or safety helmets with visors on them and being able to help  those in the field by being able to recognize equipment and therefore assist co-workers with diagnostics, or system upgrades or even simple repairs; again, all thanks to the augmented reality graphics projected on their visors or special glasses.  If you want to see this in action, look up a company called Daqri. (spelled, D-A-Q-R-I) They are doing some Very cool stuff over there. Another technology, somewhat along those lines, is See-What-I-See Glasses.

If you are a fan of the Mission Impossible movies, then no doubt you have witnessed Tom Cruise (as the master spy – Ethan Hunt) put on a pair of glasses (or hi-tech contact lenses) and somewhere in a van, his workmate is seeing everything from Tom Cruise’s perspective. Well, the concept of having spy glasses is a reality today that brings a lot of benefit to the workplace. For example, when out-of-the-ordinary problems occur in the field, all-too-often a second team needs to be dispatched, costing the company both time and money. Rather than rolling a second truck with more senior technicians when an unfamiliar problem is discovered, top talent can now work from a central location and literally see what the field service teams are seeing from their “See what I see” glasses. A construction crane operator, for example, could remotely operate cranes at construction sites around the globe. The most experienced workers will be available to transport their skills across time and space—without ever leaving their desks.

Now, I love this super tech stuff! I love it when science fiction and emerging technology from movies hit workplace reality. However, as cool as it all is, I feel compelled to consider the whole picture. What are the pros and the cons?

On the one hand…

  • People learn by doing so, augmented reality can increase productivity by decreasing training time.
  • If you have several employees immersed in an augmented reality experience, at the same time, they can learn things together; improving workplace dynamics, and quite possibly, the efficiency of the overall team.
  • Augmented Reality in training is still a fresh concept so, if your company adopts it now you will have a strategic advantage over your competitors.
  • And… you save money by not having to print off so many training manuals.

And then, there is the other hand…

I can’t quote you exact pricing on what augmented reality hardware and software will cost your company but, I know some of the Virtual Reality hardware can run you around $3,000 for one user. So, for now, the cost of entry is pretty high.

That being said, I believe the price will come down eventually, as it always does and improve with each generation; especially when you have a lot of competition in the space. For instance, Facebook and Samsung recently partnered to deliver a VR system for consumers. Microsoft released its HoloLens, an Augmented Reality device that can bring computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing diagrams to life to help engineers boost their productivity. And Google has announced a reboot of its Augmented Reality Glass product, now renamed “Project Aura.” And Google also announced an inexpensive VR system — Google Cardboard — with all that activity, it’s clear the costs of producing and purchasing virtual reality and augmented reality will soon drop dramatically. {/music}

Something else to keep in mind too is Virtual Reality sickness, which (I think) would likely affect users of Augmented Reality tools. (Again, I am totally speculating.) For those who don’t know, many virtual reality devices sometimes leave users disoriented if used for more than an hour at a time. Developers are already working toward a solution, and, again, that is virtual reality; but, I imagine the same thing happens to those passionate about Pokemon Go and other augmented reality games. But, I’m not a Pokemon Go player so I can only guess. If you know for sure, let me know?

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2 thoughts on “How Emerging Technology is Disrupting the Training and Development Industry”

  1. Great read. By the way, thanks for NordVPN discount, will buy it next week, heard some really good things about it.

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