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Mixed Reality Is Setting the Stage For E-learning & Training In a Post-COVID-19 World We cannot simply go back to the way things were before, but we can always pickup newer methods and trends to uplift the economy

By Sameer Nigam

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, marking the official start of a period of profound suffering. COVID-19 has caused a disruptive impact on the Indian economy in 2020. India's growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020 went down to 3.1 per cent according to the ministry of statistics. The chief economic adviser to the government of India said this drop is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic effect on the Indian economy. Notably India had also been witnessing a pre-pandemic slowdown, and according to the World Bank, the current pandemic has "magnified pre-existing risks to India's economic outlook".

On 26 May, CRISIL announced this will perhaps be India's worst recession since independence. State Bank of India research estimates a contraction of over 40 per cent in the GDP in Q1. According to Nomura India Business Resumption Index, economic activity fell from 82.9 on 22 March to 44.7 on 26 April. Unemployment rose from 6.7 per cent on 15 March to 26 per cent on 19 April. During the lockdown, an estimated 140 million people lost employment while salaries were cut for many others. More than 45 per cent of households across the nation have reported an income drop compared with the previous year. The Indian economy has unexpectedly lost over INR 32,000 crore ($4.5 billion) every day during the first 21-days of complete lockdown. Under complete lockdown, less than a quarter of India's $2.8 trillion economic movement was functional. Up to 53 per cent of businesses in the country have been projected to be significantly affected.

Despite the ongoing woes, 2021 is expected to be the year of recovery and seen as a hope for all the loss that has occurred. With the development of vaccines and increased preparedness in healthcare infrastructure, it gives immense hope to businesses to reinvent the wheel. However, we cannot simply go back to the way things were before, but we can always pickup newer methods and trends to uplift the economy. One such technological breakthrough which occurred during the pandemic and help steer businesses was augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

The COVID-19 outbreak affected various business' functioning due to temporary shutdowns, however, VR technology has experienced a surge in demand during the pandemic due to the necessity of companies to continue their business operations virtually. Companies have shifted to virtual platforms for attending meet-ups to formulate various policies and strategies for their ongoing business. It is also emerging as a very promising technology for virtual events as it assists in event planning. Event organizers deliver engaging and plentiful event experiences to individual attendees by hosting the event on a virtual platform and deploying it as a VR experience. Hence, the increasing adoption of virtual events is contributing to the market growth.

AR technology, too, has seen unprecedented growth in 2020. Commercial use of the technology has exploded due to use by market leaders such as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon. According to MarketsandMarkets, the market for AR technology is worth $15.3 billion. It's worth exploring the different avenues and trends that drive the surging augmented reality market. By the end of 2020, AR active devices were estimated to rise to 598 million units and are projected to grow to 1.73 billion by 2024. This technology can be witnessed taking over daily activities such as usage of mobile, shopping and retail, navigation, remote assistance and virtual manuals.

Future of AR & VR

With AR's value in the market climbing up to $25 billion by 2025, the future of augmented reality is bright. This growth will only continue for years to come, determined by investments from the business domains and spheres. Gaming has the highest share of the industry's revenue and will remain a relevant driver of augmented reality. Practical uses of AR such as those used by the healthcare and engineering industries will also gain traction. While the global virtual reality market size was valued at $15.81 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 per cent from 2021 to 2028.

One of the key breakthroughs uses of AR & VR is witnessed in remote learning and training. It is interesting to witness an advanced blend of both virtual and augmented realities in corporate trainings which not only projects holographic images, but can even use gesture and eye tracking to make the user interact with them on a deeper level.

The potential of AR & VR to increase candidates focus on course content while at home cannot be understated. The technology also makes learning modes at home more diverse by expanding visual content for more visual-focused learners. This can help break up monotonous video conferencing and recorded lecture note-taking to improve engagement. Some of the tools used of late are immersive online training through AR simulations, realistic gamification of e-learning courses, visual feedback in assessments and advanced learning analytics.

Implementation of immersive learning in the organization opens up the road to effective learning, better retention, cost-cutting and lower risks.

Sameer Nigam

CEO, Stratbeans

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