Companies need to continually train and upskill their workforce for better performance and results.

Many of them use a gamut of upgraded tools and a mash-up of training styles to make their employee training sessions productive and engaging. People learn best when they can view and relate to the shared material or the trainer. This promotes student-focused and process-oriented learning.

Each training method has its place, but with technology rapidly changing the business landscape, it is vital to leverage interactive environments, monitor real-time teamwork, and improve employees’ learning flexibility.

A technology like volumetric video or virtual reality simulations allows for all of the above requirements, making it a big runner in the mixed-reality experience space.

In the current pandemic situation, experiencing something in 3D from multiple viewpoints, where a real-life physical movement improves knowledge retention, is an excellent value-addition.  Volumetric videos provide a virtual presence, where a person feels like they’re actually in an environment or situation. This makes the experience real though the events are virtual.


Volumetric video is a technique implemented to capture moving images of real people and objects viewed from different angles. Unlike any regular video, it allows users to move naturally around the subject: to lean in, move away or sideways, etc. (known as “six degrees of freedom“).

This creates a sharp sense of presence in the virtual environment. When an employee is virtually present with the subject, real-life natural interaction movements can be recreated, thus enhancing the immersion tremendously.

Since a volumetric video records a person in their actual dimensions and shape, they can be viewed from each of those angles as if they are present. This makes trainer interactions natural and credible for learners.

The information fed to 3D models is captured from different viewpoints around a person or an object, fused, and transformed into a consistent, natural, and dynamic 3D representation. Volumetric video implements a motion-sensing technique, which analyzes the images of 2D or 3D objects in depth and scans directly through 360-degree cameras.

Why volumetric video?

It is the only immersive experience that duplicates 100% of human movements and emotions in 3D. Furthermore, a volumetric video is way more efficient than animating a moving person. Where a few seconds of high-quality animation could take up to a week of work, one-minute volumetric video production renders in 10 hours. This, of course, leads to saving money along with time.

Volumetric video captures the scene from multiple viewpoints. This information creates a depth map of the space that could be reused to enhance training.

When paired with positional tracking systems, a volumetric video enables viewers to navigate new worlds independently.


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Volumetric Video and Soft Skills Training

The Need to Rethink Soft Skills Training Delivery

As new workforce trends take hold, many organizations are scrambling to fill vacancies and anticipate workforce gaps. Communication, adaptability, collaboration, persuasion, creativity, and time-management are becoming the main currency.

Much like money for sustenance, however, the currency of skills is often broken down into two units of measure—hard skills relating to technical expertise and soft skills for more interpersonal or “human” skills.

This thinking line could guide some organizations to place too much value on hard skills over soft skills, only by merit of connotation.

“Soft” in this context may infer something less than or unimportant, whereas “hard” might appear more tangible and, thus, more valuable. This potential conclusion could lead to diminished results for businesses.

Businesses should consider imparting both on-the-job training and soft skills training to avoid diminishing the value of an employee’s contribution to the organization. With volumetric video, observable human attributes can be exercised to adapt our technical and functional skills across multiple contexts.

The Benefits of Volumetric Video for Soft Skills Training

Democratizes Learning

Volumetric videos remove physical boundaries and give trainees equal view access and immersive experience for the content being delivered. The trainee can navigate through a maze of volumetric videos of trainer interactions and 3D models of course content or human interaction for a near-real experience.

Better Knowledge Retention

Volumetric videos improve trainee engagement, which aids in better knowledge retention. Since trainees are more focused, they get better prepared for real-world situations.

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Provides Increased Flexibility

When with extended reality (XR) training software, volumetric video allows trainers to create immersive presentations (remotely). Immersive courses can be executed in real-time or pre-recorded sessions, making them a futuristic employee training tool.

Needs Minimal Setup

Minimal requirements like 3D cameras, software, and headsets are enough for implementing training sessions using volumetric video. The audience needs only compatible headsets.

Supports Scenario-based Learning

Instead of a trainer talking through a soft-skills lesson, employees can be immersed in a scenario that mimics a real-life situation. This includes reactions, practices, seeing, hearing, and walking around the scenario to better understand a session practically.

Merging with VR

VR training can be used with volumetric video to immerse the learner in interactions and provoke responses, rather than allowing merely passive observation, especially for interpersonal skills training. Speaking or just deciding what to say when looking at a person’s face is a more value-adding experience than selecting a menu response on a web page.

Simulation VR technology typically portrays fictitious people in the scenario and triggers natural conversational responses from employees. It depicts how the participants look, emote, speak, and move. Thus the effectiveness of the training can be improved by making this portrayal believable. If the VR is created using volumetric video, the scenarios are often more convincing than video or even simulated VR. Pre-recorded sessions may reduce the range of responses to the learners’ reactions but reduces the overall costs than simulated VR.

Using Immersive Technologies to Build Human Learning Capabilities

Immersive learning technology has shown significant benefits in helping people gain skills and learn through interactions and reactions in diverse virtual environments.

Whether it is communicating with distant clients about projects remotely or performing remote operations, training in the real world may be too expensive. At the same time, it may make sense to do it in a virtual world.

Today, as VR is becoming known more widely as “the ultimate empathy machine,” many organizations have also started to acknowledge its potential to develop human capabilities. Like physically risky scenarios, immersive learning for human capabilities can help workers practice difficult interpersonal situations without risking the potential emotional fallout that can be detrimental to both customer and workplace relationships.

For Example, when Best Western identified that its front-desk staff’s ability to resolve problems was critical to improving customer relationships, it realized the importance of its workers practicing customer service skills. This was crucial, especially when working with tired and frustrated travelers.

The company decided to try an avatar-based training simulation focusing on problem resolution. In the initial phase, Best Western offered front-desk personnel at 380 locations the opportunity to participate in two live-virtual simulations. In the sessions, staff could interact with characters that present challenges similar to those encountered in real life. Afterward, they discussed scenarios with managers to improve decision-making strategies in the future. The average cost was less than US$165 per hotel.

The results reported were promising; participating locations showed measurable gains in guest satisfaction than non-participating locations.

Vice president of operations Bruce Weinberg stated, “Hotels that received the training experienced the highest short-term gains in customer satisfaction that Best Western has ever measured in such a short period.”

Measurable improvements are emerging across a vast range of use cases for human capabilities, including;

  • De-escalation,
  • Public speaking,
  • Managing difficult conversations,
  • Improving workplace diversity and inclusion
  • Interviewing and
  • Sales communications

In these scenarios, learners seem to benefit from complete immersion into a virtual scene, without the distraction of phones or email. Their actions and behavior affect the outcome in real-time—at shallow risk to real-life relationships. The individual’s sense of physical presence, managing their emotional reaction to events in a dynamic environment, and the opportunity to practice can help learners better incorporate skills into their everyday lives.


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The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis

A field of theory and research revolving around the question is highlighted in the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis. How does high realism in anthropomorphic design influence human experience and behavior? The Uncanny Valley hypothesis posits that a very humanlike character or object (e.g., robot, prosthetic limb, Avatar) can evoke a negative (i.e., uncanny) effect.

Since empathy influences, human capability development, high-quality design, and effective technology implementation become incredibly important, perhaps even more important than technical skill training. In part, this may reflect on what is known as the “uncanny valley hypothesis.” As a robot or Avatar’s appearance seems more human, many onlookers’ emotional responses become increasingly empathetic up to a point, then drop into a staggering revulsion.

In other words, participants start by empathizing with cartoonish figures. Still, as the robot or virtual model becomes more realistic but not real enough to be convincing, there is a feeling of discomfort. However, once it crosses that “valley,” and the robot becomes more identical to a human being, the emotional response starts to become positive once again and reaches human-to-human empathy levels.

Creating successful immersive learning at scale – Cost and Quality

Compared to other media, immersive learning experiences may require a higher-quality design to achieve training goals.

Any bad implementations in volumetric content about sound, visuals, or the timing of events, can significantly alter outcomes and impact costs.

If the scenarios are simulated in real-time with computer graphics, they also need to be represented by digital humans. These “actors” are controlled by a combination of scripts performed by live humans, programmed responses, and AI. This requires considerable animation work that is cost-driven.

The exact point of cost-benefit achievement for an enterprise can be challenging to calculate because it depends on variables ranging from the training scenario complexities to the trainee’s average hourly wage and how quickly the learners absorb the material.

Factors contributing to cost benefits, retention, confidence, learner satisfaction, and decision-making accuracy include reduced time to proficiency and decreased training time because learners grasp content much faster. Volumetric video allows you to spend less of each employee’s time and get increased results in multiple dimensions.

These systems have become self-contained, portable, and simple to assemble in just a few minutes with advancements.

These newer and affordable systems often deliver higher-quality experiences, including a wider field of views that allow for an increased sense of realism. Additionally, the new hand tracking devices and haptics involve the sense of touch and take immersion to the next level. More modern hardware can also integrate biometric sensors for eye tracking, tone of voice measurement, heart rate, etc.

Wrapping up

The pandemic has fast-tracked the need for virtual training and communication for many companies. Volumetric video is one solution to overcome the pain-points of remote work.

Companies can record employees, projects, or scenarios with volumetric video, instead of digitally rebuilding them from scratch.

Immersive learning offers companies the potential to provide quality development opportunities in communication, management, customer service, and beyond. Adding biometric information into trainee feedback can deliver more personalized and actionable improvement areas.

Connect with one of our experts at Radiant today to learn more.

by Surya Prakash, Radiant Director | Digital Communication

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