Regular listeners will know that podcast host Alan Smithson is no stranger to the conference circuit, and is often asked to present or speak at the big XR expos. In a special episode of XR for Business, you’ll get to hear Alan in his element, as we present his opening remarks at this year’s VRX Conference.

“Well, thank you guys for joining. Again, welcome to the Blue Room at VRX 2019. My name’s Alan Smithson, and we’re gonna be talking today about the transformation of education using XR. I want to just quickly talk about MetaVRse. We’re building a platform for future-proof learning. And what that means to us is as more spatial computing technologies come on board, what we want to do is make sure that organizations — from training and enterprise, and also schools and organizations in high schools and universities — all have access to not only the content, but the platforms to let them make their own content. So what we’re building is a platform marketplace for technologies and content to grow.

We’re entering into the exponential age of humanity. We’re hitting the point at which all of these technologies converge together. So in the next 10 years, more wealth will be created than all of previous human history. We’re entering into an inflection point, where education systems are going to be stretched beyond our wildest imaginations. Over the next 10 years, more wealth can be created, but right now — currently — we’re building a city the size of Manhattan around the world globally, every single month. Yeah.

We’re going to experience massive changes, from environmental changes, to job force changes, to educational changes, all of these changes are happening to us at a pace that we’ve never had before. It’s happening faster and faster. And somebody said this to me the other day. They said “Today is the slowest it will ever be.” It’s terrifying, it’s so fast. But learning is required at every level, whether it’s skilled trades, unskilled trades, whether it is retirees. We’re working on technologies that will make people live to 150 years old. What are they going to do? We need to rethink learning from a ground-up level. All types of learning, whether it’s at work or at school, all of these things that need a complete rethink.

Here’s a crazy stat: 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2023. Who else is terrified by that fact? Right? 120 million people need to be reskill, retrained, and upskilled due to AI and automation in the next three years. We don’t have the systems in place to deal with this. Two trillion dollars, that is the global impact that VR and AR will make over the next 10 years, by 2030. And this is an estimate by PWC.

So why is now the perfect time to get into virtual and augmented reality for learning? So over the last three decades we saw the rise of the personal computer and it took 20 years — 30 years, almost — to get everybody onto the personal computer. And then we saw the rise of mobile, and that took about 20 years. XR is going to take about 10 years to go to global mass. So by 2030, we’re gonna be wearing glasses around and those glasses will be inexpensive. They’ll be running on the cloud, so the compute power won’t be on your phone or on your glasses. It’ll be in the cloud, it’ll be all edge computing.

So we’re gonna see this massive growth. And right now, we’re past the hype cycle. We’ve already seen proven business use cases. We’re seeing real ROI being driven. And if you look at the compounded annual growth rate of this industry, it’s unprecedented. The only other industry that’s growing as fast is AI. And it perfectly correlates with the global education market. This is all of education, this is corporate training, this is K to 12. This is all education. We’ll hit ten trillion dollars by 2030. It’s six trillion now.

“Teach me and I will forget. Show me and I will learn. Involve me and I’ll understand.” You know, if you look at how we learn, if we read things, we retain about 5 percent. If we do them, we retain up to 75 percent. And VR, it shows — and AR — hands-on learning is directly correlated one-to-one with actually doing it. So we can create scenarios where people are learning full job requirements with never having set foot on a work site. Think about this for prisoners or schools, where you have people that are there trying to learn a trade or a skill, they can learn it before ever stepping foot on the worksite.

Now, XR and AI are kind of the most efficient, effective learning systems we’ve ever created, and we’re only starting to see this happen and come online right now. But we anecdotally came here three years ago, and it was like “We could use VR for training, we could use it for this!” But guess what? Now the proof cases are there. We’re actually seeing real use cases across 360 video with Strivr. We’re seeing people use this right now. We’re using AR on our phones. There’s 2 billion devices that have AR capabilities as of right now. This has a global scale to it. And then your virtual reality and CG, being able to train people and put them environments.

And VR has this amazing capability of not adhering to space and time. You can be the size of an ant and the size of a god in the same second. You can go back in time, you can go forward in time. So being able to to transcend space and time using this technology is something we’ve never had the ability to do in any education learning format. The amount of data we can collect about learning is obscene. When you start to have eye tracking, head tracking, gait analysis, gesture analysis, hand tracking, pose analysis, speech analysis, biometrics. If you take all of these data points and then start to apply AI algorithms at a scale, you can start to deliver hyper-personalized, hyper-contextualized learning, to everybody, real time.

But the proof is in the ROI. It really doesn’t matter for businesses, unless there’s an ROI. So you look at Wal-Mart is seeing 90 percent reductions in training times. Sprint saved 11 million dollars on one training application and decreased their time to competency by 85 percent. UPS, is training all of their drivers now in virtual reality, decreasing their training time by two thirds, and also increasing safety. Delta Airlines reduced their maintenance training by 90 percent. And I know Shelley [Peterson] — is Shelley here? — Shelley has decreased their training times and their time to completion at Lockheed Martin by 93 percent.

Our mission at MetaVRse is to democratize education globally by 2040. We believe that those silly boxes on these kids’ heads will turn into a sleek pair of glasses that everybody wears. There will be super lightweight and it will be running on the cloud. And at that point, it really comes down to creating content at scale. So we believe that investing now in the content platforms, and creating the standards by which the rest of the world adheres to, I think is the real key to delivering education at a scale we’ve never done before.

So I want to just say thank you to everybody for joining us today. We have a really amazing panel and I’d like to introduce the panel now. Come on up.”

Looking for more insights on XR and the future of business? Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify. You can also follow us on Twitter @XRforBusiness and connect with Alan on LinkedIn.

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