michael-casale-2017STRIVR started as a VR training platform for elite athletes for college and professional quarterbacks, but they’ve been recently expanding into corporate training for Walmart. Over 200 Walmart Academy location will soon be equipped with virtual reality training for managers and employees to improve social skills but also get prepared for large-scale events like Black Friday.

I talked with STRIVR’s Chief Science Officer Dr Michael Casale at the VR Strategy Conference in San Francisco. He describes the neuroscience of why VR is such a compelling training platform including the embodied cognition insights into being able to be immersed within the context, and to simulate the process of making choices and taking action. The depth of learning is so much more rich in VR, and it’s a more holistic approach for learning that is also opening up new epistemological methods for objective measures of engagement that will hopefully reveal a deeper ground truth of how effective of a transfer learning processes they’ve developed. Casale found that engagement is a key indicator, which can help them find patterns of reliability and validity in other factors like how much someone moves their head and what people have been looking at.

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STRIVR has also been exploring the implications of an embodied cognition insights. For example, what are the implications of performing the physical act of smiling is the cause for a change your mood? Perhaps focusing on resultant behaviors through embodying the actions directly is what leads to changes in attitudes and cognition, rather than the other way around. Another open question is how to model and measure social behaviors, and that’s something that STRIVR co-founder Jeremy Bailenson has been researching at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab that he founded at Stanford in 2003. There are many signs that one of the VR killer apps that drives adoption in the enterprise will be training, and STRIVR’s platform is pushing the edge of the best practices of showing and measuring what’s possible.

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