VR is helping teach people how to fire their employees


Poor Barry Thompson is about to get fired, and you’re the unfortunate one shouldered with lowering the ax. You might not feel sorry for Barry given he’s virtual. But the idea is that firing him in VR will help prepare you if you ever need to terminate someone who isn’t made of pixels.

Barry is the creation of Talespin Studios, a VR company that develops virtual- and augmented-reality training programs for Fortune 500 partners including Farmers Insurance and telecom and finance companies. The company introduced Barry to demonstrate its “Virtual Human Technology.”What it looks like to fire an employee in VR

“The premise behind the software is giving employees a safe space to practice challenging interpersonal situations, while using AI to create emotionally realistic characters to stimulate and challenge them,” says Kyle Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Talespin.

The company, which is based in Southern California and The Netherlands, built Barry using speech recognition, AI, natural language processing, gamified scoring, dynamic feedback and enterprise learning management system, or LMS, integration. He can fluidly converse with the real person wearing the VR headset, display realistic emotion and understand context.

The highly realistic-looking Mr. Thompson has gray hair and bags under his eyes and looks like he’s probably put a whole lot of years into the company. His reaction to the bad news varies depending on how you handle the situation. In some scenarios, he gets angry and yells, in others he cries. If you handle his firing well, he calmly accepts the news..

“Users that elicit the more dramatic or emotional responses from Barry can learn from the experience and try to do better next time,” Jackson says.

Talespin virtual humans give trainees the chance to practice other challenging interpersonal situations with colleagues and co-workers, such as giving managerial feedback, negotiating and making a sale.

In one sales scenario, for example, the CEO of a company you’re trying to sell your firm’s services to has her arms crossed, looks away as you explain why you’re there, and says you won’t get the full time requested for the meeting. You have to rely on your training to overcome her disinterest and unlock different parts of the conversation where you can be successful.

VR is already teaching people to deliver babiesoperate machinery and how to weld. As our sister site TechRepublic suggests, VR could be the future of sexual harassment training in the workplace since it’s more immersive than HR-based classes or slideshow and video presentations and lets users feel what’s it like to be harassed.

“The immersive properties and rich, consistent contextual cues associated with VR improve the quality and speed of initial learning,” according to Training Industry. “One strength of VR is that it can be implemented in such a way as to target [both] the behavioral skills system and the cognitive skills system.”

Talespin isn’t the only company creating VR training content for workers. Thousands of Walmart employees have donned Oculus Go virtual reality headsets for a training program created by Strivr, which also counts Verizon, Fidelity and United Rentals among its customers.

“When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation,” Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart US Academies, said when announcing the program last year.

Or, as Talespin’s Jackson puts it, “Virtual humans can help us become better humans.”

Now, can someone please hook Barry up with a new job?






Delivering A Great Digital Experience? Prove It – Bridget Bisnette


Imagine that you can provide your customers with visibility and actionable insights on how “users”—be it customers or employees—are consuming applications, what their digital experience is while using them, and more importantly quantify how those experiences directly impact revenue, productivity, costs, and other business KPIs.For those of you not currently in the business of providing Digital Experience Management (DEM) services to your customers, imagine the impact to your business. How could doing so, expand your customer relationships outside of IT operations, while creating a new revenue stream for your business……………….




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China’s Ping An Insurance Firm Partner With Sanya City Authorities to Build DLT-Powered Smart City – Ogwu Osaemezu Emmanuel


Ping An Insurance Group, a highly reputed China-based insurance corporation has joined forces with the Sanya municipal government to develop a “smart city” that would be powered by blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies,” according to a local news source, People’s Daily on November 14, 2018. Per sources close to the matter, in a bid to contribute its bit to urban development in China, Ping An Group has reportedly inked a strategic agreement with Sanya Municipal People’s Government to construct a “Smart City” run entirely by innovative technologies including the revolutionary blockchain technology, big data, artificial intelligence, and others…………..

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The Math Behind The 5-Hour Rule: Why You Need To Learn 1 Hour Per Day Just To Stay Relevant – Michael Simmons


Three years ago, I coined the term The 5-Hour Rule after researching the most successful, busy people in the world and finding that they shared a pattern: They devoted at least 5 hours a week to deliberate learning. Since then, I’ve preached The 5-Hour Rule to more than 10 million readers. The reason I keep writing about it is two-fold..I believe it’s the single most critical practice we all can adopt to ensure our long-term career success, Almost no one takes this rule as seriously as they should…Recently, I’ve realized that The 5-Hour Rule is more than just a pattern. It’s more like a fundamental law in our current age of knowledge. And it’s backed up by basic math and a growing body of research……..

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Business Does Not Need the Humanities But Humans Do – Gianpiero Petriglieri


Sometimes a simple story is all it takes to capture complex issues, or so it seems. Take this one. A few years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost a game of Scrabble to a friend’s teenage daughter. “Before they played a second game, he wrote a simple computer program that would look up his letters in the dictionary so that he could choose from all possible words,” wrote New Yorker reporter Evan Osnos. As the girl told it to Osnos, “During the game in which I was playing the program, everyone around us was taking sides: Team Human and Team Machine………..

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AI Innovators: This Researcher Uses Deep Learning To Prevent Future Natural Disasters – Lisa Lahde


Meet Damian Borth, chair in the Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning department at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) in Switzerland, and past director of the Deep Learning Competence Center at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). He is also a founding co-director of Sociovestix Labs, a social enterprise in the area of financial data science. Damian’s background is in research where he focuses on large-­scale multimedia opinion mining applying machine learning and in particular deep learning to mine insights (trends, sentiment) from online media streams. Damian talks about his realization in deep learning and shares why integrating his work with deep learning is an important part to help prevent future natural disasters……..

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Microlearning Best Practices Creating A Lesson – Isha Sood


Microlearning definitely does not involve cramming all the material you used to deliver in 15 minutes into 5 – that is a strategy bound to lead to failure. Some re-engineering of content to match a targeted approach on the achievement of one key outcome must happen and will put most of our skills as communicators to the test. Microlearning development involves two key stages……

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Silicon Valley’s ‘Pixar’: Why The Startup Studio Behind Hims’ Breakout Success Just Raised $150M – Alex Konrad


When direct-to-consumer men’s health startup Hims launched in November 2017, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Offering easy-access prescriptions for men’s issues like hair loss and erectile dysfunction through a quick online doctor consultation, Hims had sleek branding and eye-popping numbers for a debutant: $1 million in first-week sales and $7 million in funding right out of the gate from blue-chip investors including Kirsten Green and Josh Kushner. Even in Silicon Valley’s hard-charging startup culture, Hims’ momentum stood out…….

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5 Lessons On Virtual Reality In eLearning

5 Lessons On Virtual Reality In eLearning

Virtual Reality In eLearning: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

Over the last few years we have been creating Virtual Reality in eLearning. This work has yielded some valuable lessons that I’d like to share in the hope that it will make you an eLearning hero rather than the herder of white elephants.

Lesson 1: Virtual Reality Is Brilliant… When The Planets Align

Firstly I’d like to say that given the right learning scenario and receptive learner, VR eLearning is shockingly effective. This platform for presenting information will fill a gap in the learning spectrum for users who would benefit more from experiencing situations and surroundings.

Kinaesthetic learning scenarios, where the learning is concerned with physically carrying out a task, can be replicated and practiced ideally in Virtual Reality. Furthermore, scenarios where the surrounding environment is a crucial part of the learning experience are ideally suited for VR. For instance, VR can give new hires experience of an international company’s locations without the need to fly all over the world or map fire escape routes as part of fire safety training.

The Virtual Reality experience itself is something that no user should forget, the uniqueness and salience of the experience will stand out in the mind of the learner and aid recall. This effect will recede as Virtual Reality becomes more mainstream so my advice would be to make your first VR eLearning course soon for maximum effect.

Lesson 2: Apply Virtual Reality Sparingly

Despite some vendors claiming VR to be the panacea for all learning, the truth is that very few learning courses have sufficient kinaesthetic learning needs to suit Virtual Reality. Most learning remains predominantly knowledge-based; people need to learn “what” more than “how” in the world of eLearning. Our experience suggests that only 5% of all learning should go down the Virtual Reality route.

Lesson 3: Don’t Go To The Party Without The Right Kit

The good news is that the Virtual Reality kit can be inexpensive – really inexpensive. A headset can be purchased for £5 from Amazon, attach it to your Smartphone and start learning. The quality of the experience is minimally limited by the equipment – it is essentially just a set of lenses in a mask, just make sure it fits the face and does not let in any ambient light.

The main limitations of the experience are caused by bandwidth and Smartphone/VR system. Generally if you are using a Smartphone to run the Virtual Reality, if it has been made in the last three years then it will be adequate. The more recent phones (Google’s Pixel, LG 6 etc.) give even better refresh rates and visual acuity which makes using the phone a more “real-life” experience and will increase the length of time they can be used in one session. Generally newer phones can be used comfortably for up to 45 minutes, training for older phones should last for no longer than 25 minutes. Specialist VR systems such as Oculus Prime and Playstation are considerably more expensive but will give a better overall experience – at the moment we would not advise going down this route since it greatly restricts the rollout of the system with relatively little gain.

Although the headsets are cheap and Smartphones are commonplace, not every audience will have the right equipment – even if headsets are distributed. Take this into consideration during any rollout, that you may need an alternative distribution platform for the learning.

Lesson 4: Virtual Reality Is eLearning Marmite

Any readers unfamiliar with the UK’s obsession with Marmite should know that Marmite is a spread made out of yeast extract (yes, I don’t know what that is either) that you apply to toast. The taste experience is greatly loved or hated in equal measure; there is no middle ground. Virtual Reality is the same.

90% of users will love the VR experience, it is met with a childlike sense of awe. There is no learning curve, users immediately know how to get around the environment and learn from the experience.

10% of users will absolutely hate the experience, they will tear off the goggles within 10 seconds of putting them. Such users find the experience disconcerting and no matter how much encouragement you can give, they will refuse to even look at the training again.

If your training needs to train all the target population – you must not put all your eggs in the Virtual Reality basket.

Lesson 5: The Take-Away From Virtual Reality

If there is one thing I’d like you to learn from our experience it’s that Virtual Reality – if suitable for the project in hand – should not be the only solution. VR needs a back up delivery method because:

  • Not every learning scenario suits Virtual Reality.
  • It will be difficult to ensure a suitable Smartphone/VR headset is available for all.
  • 10% of your population will refuse to use Virtual Reality.

The best solution is to make sure your VR project can export into other formats. One solution is to use Jackdaw Cloud to export the same VR project at the touch of a button to run on a PC or App without needing VR glasses. It creates great looking Virtual Reality, but comes with a built in backup plan.

So good luck with your first VR project; when done well, it is a great learning medium that will turn you into an eLearning hero. Just don’t forget those who cannot or will not use Virtual Reality, don’t say I have not warned you!

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