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Apple Vision Pro may energize adoption of VR/AR learning

The cost of Apple Vision Pro, its new AR/VR product, might inhibit enterprise adoption. But the hands-free platform, controlled by gestures, could drive new types of content.

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Apple's newly unveiled mixed reality product, Vision Pro, could expand corporate adoption of virtual and augmented reality training, according to industry experts.

The headset, which is hands-free and controlled by eye movements, hands and voice, provides a new realm of possibilities for content development. Companies such as Strivr Labs Inc., which develops VR training applications for large companies such as Walmart and Verizon, plan to build for this platform.

Independent HR analyst Josh Bersin sees Apple Vision Pro as a possible on-the-job "performance support system," providing continuous online support in high-risk jobs. He argued that Apple's entry into the AR/VR and mixed reality space significantly boosts the credibility and interest in augmented learning tools and experiences.

Bersin believes it will "double or triple" HR and learning development interest in AR/VR. That's because "of the feature set, ease of use, and a vast improvement in applications and third-party interest."

However, Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder pointed out that the headset's $3,499 price tag may hinder its adoption in the enterprise market.

The cost "will pose a challenge to Apple because enterprise buyers are price-conscious and don't need the fanciest experience," Gownder said. Despite the price concern, he believes that if the device can show improved learning outcomes compared to standard VR, it could grow its market share over time.

Gina Smith, an analyst at IDC, sees AR/VR and mixed reality training gradually gaining traction overall, particularly for industrial use cases like training workers on complex machinery and teaching soft skills, such as collaboration and communication.

Aneesh Kulkarni, CTO at corporate learning development company Strivr Labs, expects to start developing for Apple Vision Pro in July -- the approximate timeframe for Apple's release of development tools.

Apple's market driver

Apple's sheer market strength will "raise the tide for everybody in this space," Kulkarni said. But Vision Pro also enables new types of content development.

The more the hardware companies do to lessen the friction when it comes to hardware, the better it will be for adoption.
Aneesh KulkarniCTO, Strivr Labs

Kulkarni said Apple's headset doesn't use controllers or handheld devices with buttons and toggles, which is a big plus. Its users can work with it hands free.

"The gestures are intuitive," Kulkarni said. "The more the hardware companies do to lessen the friction when it comes to hardware, the better it will be for adoption."

Today, warehouse workers use VR to learn how to load and unload trucks. Retailers have used it to train employees on how to stock produce and even how to respond to active shooter. Insurance claims adjusters use AR to identify flooding damage. But video, classroom and online instruction remain the mainstay of corporate learning.

Bersin said Apple's entry in the AR/VR space "legitimizes a whole new category of augmented learning, tools and experiences."

"While VR was very useful, the AR that we will see with Apple will be even more useful," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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