Enterprise XR: How AR/VR is preparing modern workers for the dangerous, Expensive, and improbable

Station Houston recently debuted a new augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) lab, made possible by a partnership with HoustonVR. The HoustonVR Lab at Station Houston is the product of two community leaders coming together to supercharge Enterprise XR – the business applications of AR/VR technology. Through this partnership, VR startups from around the world will have an access point into Houston’s innovation ecosystem and Station Houston’s growing network of corporate partners.

Josh Ruben, Station XR Fellow, Co-Founder and CEO of Z3VR, and Head of Business Development at HoustonVR, recently sat down with us to discuss how the lab can help Houston’s leading organizations, and what the technology/lab is capable of.

What about the partnership between HoustonVR and Station Houston are you most excited about?

“HoustonVR has been the epicenter of Houston’s immersive technology community for over five years. The industry is maturing and we (HoustonVR) are determined to amplify Houston’s reach and influence in its development. Station has done a fantastic job pulling together city leaders, corporations, the startup community, and university partners. This density presents a unique value proposition as we recruit startups, investors, and hardware manufacturers from other cities around the world.”

How can immersive technology help corporations train their workers more effectively?

“Virtual reality is a technology that enables knowledge transfer at an unprecedented efficiency. As a trainer utilizing this technology, not only can my trainees get hands-on practice with expensive equipment, but I can also put them into scenarios that are particularly dangerous or difficult to reproduce. Doing this means the worker of tomorrow will be less expensive to train and will also be pre-exposed to scenarios that would have previously been difficult to simulate.”

How will the growth of immersive technologies affect the city of Houston? The country?

“On the subject of density, Industrial XR is currently missing a center of gravity. Conversely gaming, entertainment, and hardware are other segments of this technology that have cities that have emerged as leaders in the space. As Houston thinks about its digital transformation I think we, at the HoustonVR lab, are making the argument that Houston should lead the world in immersive technology’s industrial applications as it has done with several other emerging technologies in the past.”

About the event:

On April 25, Station Houston and HoustonVR hosted an event titled Enterprise XR: How AR/VR is Preparing Modern Workers for the Dangerous, Expensive, and Improbable. As a result of the event, over 80 corporate connections were made. The 100+ attendees heard from Eric Liga, Co-Founder of HoustonVR, participated in AR/VR demonstrations from ten startups from around the US, and listened to a panel led by Josh Ruben that included the following industry thought leaders:

Jared Bienz, Software Engineer, Microsoft.
Amanda Jordan, Regional Director, Industrial Training International (ITI)
Ethan LeSueur, Security, Surveillance, and Immersive Technology Manager, ExxonMobil
The panel discussed the value propositions, implementation strategies, and challenges of AR/VR training applications. Large industrial enterprises are adopting AR/VR into their training programs to reduce cost and increase retention. Amanda Jordan spoke about the growing labor shortages across several industrial sectors due to an aging workforce. She believes that cost effective AR/VR training applications will be a key component of the industrial sector’s answer to these shortages.

“There’s going to be a lot of job automation from retail, real estate- a lot of jobs will be automated freeing up people for this gap that we have,” Says Jordan, “We have to take these people and get them the skills to fill the labor shortage that we are facing.”

To Ethan LeSueur of ExxonMobil, adopting these technologies is about attracting, retaining, and speaking the language of new talent that is entering the workforce.

“The incoming workforce force grew up playing video games and using technology in classrooms. If we continue to approach training with powerpoints and the classroom presentations we are giving today, we won’t be as effective and will lose their interest.” Says LeSueur.

LeSueur also touched on the need for large corporations to engage external partners to stay ahead of the game.

When asked about opportunities for startups when working with corporations such as ExxonMobil, LeSueur explains corporations are beginning to realize the benefits of seeking external help.

“You all (startups) are far more creative than we are. One of the things that you bring to the table that we don’t is an outside perspective. We’ve been doing a lot of these things over and over again for years.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Houston’s AR/VR ecosystem, please contact Josh Ruben, joshr@houstonvr.com