Evolving Worlds – How Mixed Reality is Changing the Training Industry

Forbes magazine calls it “the future of humanity” and Deloitte predicts it will be the “biggest fundamental shift in user engagement.”

Mixed reality (MR) is upon us and if you haven’t yet embraced it, your company’s learning and development risks being left far, far behind.

Mixed reality blends both physical and virtual worlds, with the two worlds “mixed” together to create a realistic environment in which users can navigate and interact with both real and virtual objects. It combines aspects of virtual reality (VR), a computerized environment that a person can interact with and be immersed in, and augmented reality (AR), which overlays computer-generated graphics and information onto live camera video.

While these emerging realities have already gained ground in the gaming and entertainment industries, experts say integrating them into Learning and Development programs allows instructors to deliver interactive and engaging programs in which learners acquire knowledge and skills in an entirely new – and effective – way.

According to Deloitte, the mixed-reality trend is being fueled by investments in platforms, devices, and software. “The ultimate goal of these investments is to replace keyboards and flat displays with entirely new paradigms for communication and collaboration. If successful, this would represent the biggest fundamental shift in user engagement we have in seen in the modern technological era.”

The magic behind these realities is the creation of learning and training opportunities not otherwise readily available. Want to replicate a remote well site, get real-time data from a far-away machine, take a walk on Mars, or highlight the components of an engine with a complex graphic? MR is the answer.

Not only does MR provide a virtual hands-on experience that can help synthesize course content and online learning, it also allows for the replication of a process that’s too costly to repeat over and over again, or the creation of a safe environment in which dangerous activities can be engaged in without risk. MR, VR and AR also make it possible for multiple users around the globe to collaborate and learn in the same virtual space.

For learners, these trending technologies provide stimulating and interesting ways to learning, which in turn has shown to boost their motivation. Who doesn’t want to learn when it feels like a game and making mistakes doesn’t lead to dire consequences? In addition to interacting with online courses through images, text, audio, clicks and prompts, learners get an immersive experience that provides a deeper understanding of the content and its applications.

Smart L&D professionals are creating programs that bring together the needs of the end user, the business objectives and the technical environment in which it will be used. Companies like Honeywell, CISCO, Lockheed Martin and Walmart are all using MR in their training to great effect.

While initial investment in mixed realty learning technologies can be high, experts say that investment will ultimately generate significant cost savings and increase productivity. Mixed reality not only provides compelling and portable training solutions that optimize the learner experience, it’s at the forefront of this decade’s training and development.


Xpan develops digital learning solutions for companies globally. From design to deployment, our team is making heroes of Learning and Development Officers and contributing to the worldwide number of individuals improving their workplace experience (and lives) with better learning.