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Report Highlights Top VR Innovators for Corporate Trainers to Watch

BOSTON, Jan. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — JFF, a national nonprofit driving transformation in the American workforce and education systems, today released its “2020 Immersive Learning Technology” report. This pioneering study highlights how employers are now using virtual and augmented reality to help frontline and middle-skill workers acquire the skills they need to advance in their careers and prepare for an increasingly dynamic future of work. 

The report was produced by JFFLabs, a team within JFF that designs and scales new technology-enabled approaches to promoting economic advancement. JFF’s report comes as the nation’s largest employers struggle to train workers and ensure that they keep their skills up to date, a challenge that stems in part from the impact of technology on the global labor market. 

“From Comcast and Amazon to Best Western and the NFL, employers are discovering that extended reality can play a powerful role in training and upskilling frontline workers,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO, JFF. “This report provides a roadmap for corporate leaders looking to understand and apply the transformative potential of extended reality to their most pressing talent challenges. It helps them navigate a crowded multi-billion-dollar market more quickly, so they can generate a positive ROI and impact.”

In the report, JFF announced its “2020 Innovators to Watch” list of 11 companies poised to address a wide range of training needs across industries. To build that list of 11 innovators, JFFLabs reviewed more than 300 companies of all sizes and at all stages of growth and assessed them based on innovation, the efficacy and cost-efficiency of their offerings, and ability to generate social impact. 

Here are the “2020 Innovators to Watch” (in alphabetical order):

  • Embodied LabsETF@JFFLabs portfolio company, developer of an immersive learning platform that uses VR in training for the aging care workforce.
  • EqualReality, developer of a VR platform that teaches soft skills related to diversity and inclusion.
  • Floreo, developer of a VR learning tool for teaching individuals with autism spectrum disorder social and communication skills.
  • Forklift-Simulator, provider of a VR learning tool that employers can use to train people to drive forklifts, screen drivers for their ability to operate forklifts, and assess drivers’ understanding of company safety policies. 
  • Interplay Learning, developer of a VR platform for training people in skilled trades such as HVAC repair. 
  • Mursion, a training company that uses VR to prepare people for high-intensity careers in industries like health care, education, and defense.
  • Praxis Labs, a company that uses research-backed VR learning experiences to improve the outcomes of diversity and inclusion training.
  • Strivr, developer of VR training solutions designed to increase employee safety, operational efficiency, and soft skills. 
  • Talespin, developer of extended reality (XR) systems for large companies. 
  • TRANSFR, provider of VR training tools that use first person simulations.
  • Virtway, provider of an online 3D VR platform for hosting virtual events.

According to the report, immersive technologies are beginning to transform job training programs, with a growing number of employers using VR and other immersive technologies to simulate tasks that are risky or difficult to replicate, involve complex decision-making, or require repetition and practice to master.

"Immersive learning is becoming one of the hottest and most transformational approaches to learning in business. New tools for VR and AR are transforming technical, managerial, and all elements of soft skills training because they create real-world learning experiences that stick," said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst. "As this report describes, immersive learning is built on decades of experience in technology-based training, and it is now one of the fastest growing segments of the $200 billion plus corporate training industry."

A recent Capterra survey found that one in three small- and mid-size businesses in the United States is expected to be piloting a VR employee training program by 2021. Technology market research firm IDC forecasts that total consumer and corporate spending on augmented reality (AR) and VR technologies will top $18.8 billion in 2020, with spending on training tools expected to lead all commercial investment in AR and VR systems, at $2.6 billion

One leading corporation that uses immersive technologies to improve its workforce training programs is Walmart, a sponsor of the report and of the JFFLabs Impact Accelerator, which partners with mission-aligned entrepreneurs and growth-stage companies to accelerate and scale social impact through technology-based solutions. 

"Immersive learning through VR has proven to be critical to scaling our training program at Walmart," said Andy Trainor, vice president, Walmart US Learning. "With VR, we can deploy consistent, engaging training that simulates real-world experiences. We're excited to support the work of JFFLabs to bring immersive learning and work-based learning to the retail industry and beyond."

For more information on JFF and JFFLabs and its market scans and accelerator cohorts, visit www.jff.org