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What is an Extended Reality System (XRS)? Costs, Pros and Cons

An Extended Reality System, or XRS, helps organizations get the most out of their virtual reality and augmented reality training by giving learning and development professionals the power to manage their content and users.

A good XRS will be able to:

  • Deploy XR content to headsets
  • Assign content to users
  • Pull important training metrics 
  • Track completion of training activities

An extended reality system — or XRS — is a technology that helps learning professionals manage extended reality (XR) training efficiently. 

But what exactly does an XRS do? 
How does it help with XR training? 
And for that matter, what the heck is XR training?

Those are just some of the questions on the minds of learning and development professionals. 

In this article, we’ll explain what an XRS is, including features and benefits, and outline how it can add value to your training program. 

What is XR Training? 

XR training isn’t a single learning solution itself; instead, people use the term to categorize similar learning solutions together, namely:

Often referred to as Immersive Learning, XR training refers to training solutions that extend reality through a headset or other device. Think about programming a mobile device to overlay videos on a type of machinery, or using virtual reality for a safety simulation – these examples show how you can extend a learner’s reality through technology.

An XRS helps organizations get the most out of their XR training investment by giving learning and development professionals the power to manage their content and users.

Let’s explore more in detail.

What Does an XRS Do?

The central aim of an XRS is to make managing XR training simple. Some XRS work with only one type of XR training, two of them, or all of them.

Though capabilities vary from platform to platform, an XRS generally enables you to perform a combination of these functions: 

  • Deploy XR content to your headsets
  • Assign content to users
  • Pull important training metrics
  • Track completion of your XR training
  • Integrate with your organization’s LMS 
  • Create XR training via accompanying software kits

Finding an XRS Vendor

Such features make it easy for learning and development professionals to do critical tasks on a large scale. If you find yourself comparing XRS and you’re looking for differentiators, here are some questions you might want to ask vendors:

  • What are the components of your XRS? (i.e., is it one piece of software, or do I need additional services or hardware to make it work?)
  • Can I use the XRS to update my content?
  • Can the XRS host my existing content?
  • What VR headsets does the XRS work with?
  • What metrics will the XRS pull?
  • Does the XRS provide offline access?

An XRS vendor should be able to answer those questions, allowing you to find the XRS that’s best for your organization.

Learn more about Mercury XRS

Costs of an XRS

Considering the wide range of features an XRS can offer, the next logical questions are, “How much does an XRS cost?” and “What are the benefits?”

Your total cost will depend on the amount of XRS licenses you purchase, which typically run between $10 – $20 per month. 

You’ll need to account for one license per device and a baseline fee for a web-accessed portal. A software subscription often adheres to economies of scale; the more licenses you purchase, the less you pay per license. 

Pros of an Extended Reality System

Ultimately, an XRS helps you efficiently and effectively scale XR training, which has been a challenge since AR and VR entered the training realm. A well-designed XRS accomplishes that in a few ways.

Deliver XR Training to Devices With Ease

One of the key benefits of using an extended reality system is the ability to deliver your training content. This can be done a few ways:

  • Plug your headset into a computer to receive the training
  • Signing into the headset and accessing a download link
  • Connecting to WiFi for a cloud-based delivery

Each type aids organizations with scalability, but the latter is particularly useful for delivering XR training nationally and globally.

Track KPIs From XR Training

Learning and development professionals can attest: capturing metrics from XR training is a challenge. Without an XRS, you’re left with manually recording data from each session. That is not efficient, nor is it conducive to scaling. A good XRS removes the manual work completely. 

The KPIs an XRS pulls will vary from platform to platform, but you should expect these metrics as standard: 

  • Attempts
  • Completions
  • Time per session
  • Objective Completion
  • Score
  • Eye Tracking
  • Dwell Time
  • Acceleration
  • Action Time

By automatically extracting such metrics and publishing them in easy-to-read dashboards, an XRS grants L&D teams insight into their training. That allows them to design better training for your learning objectives.

Assign Training With Precision

In addition to those benefits, an XRS typically allows organizations to assign XR training at scale. Depending on the XRS, you might be able to assign only to users, only to devices, or both. Versatile training assignment gives organizations the flexibility to keep current learning paths intact as they work XR training into their programs. 

Because of those benefits, an XRS can accelerate your organization toward the ROI you hope your XR training will yield. That’s because, as PwC found, scaling VR training to a large number of learners is the path to cost-effective VR training. An XRS helps to make scalability possible.

Cons of an Extended Reality System

As with any new technology, there could be some potential hurdles to smoothly implementing an XRS. Some relate to the technology itself; others relate to user education. Let’s take a look. 

They’re at the Mercy of File Size and WiFi

Depending on your content’s size and nature, your XR training files might be fairly extensive, such as projects that include a lot of 4K video or 3D elements with 4K textures.

When it comes to deploying and updating such content on your devices, you may need to give your XRS extra time. Your WiFi bandwidth will also affect download time. The only real hurdle here is that you need to equip your devices with the necessary content well before a training session.

Compatibility Can Vary

There are many tools on the market to help learning professionals, and you don’t want to get bogged down by signing up for a ton of different systems that don’t talk to each other.

You want to work with your training partner to ensure that your XRS is compatible with:

  • Your learning devices – headsets, mobile phone or tablets
  • Your technologies – such as your learning management systems (LMS)
  • Your existing learning content – Some XRS work exclusively with content designed in Unity.
  • Your processes

Users May Need Education

When implementing an XRS, you might have to account for user education. And that doesn’t apply only to the XRS. It applies to the VR headsets and other XR devices your organization has. Everyone adapts to new technology at different speeds. For your XRS to yield the desired results, you’ll have to give people time to get comfortable with the technology. However, a good XRS should be intuitive enough for users to grasp without a lot of additional training.  

Those concerns and everything we’ve mentioned are good things to bring up to vendors to see how they can help you address them.

So, Do You Need an XRS, or Can You X-on-Out of This Article?

We’ve covered a lot! If you’re still unsure if your organization needs an XRS, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you have (or plan to have) XR training and want a platform to host, deploy, and track it? 

2. Are you interested in effectively scaling your XR training?

If you answered yes to either question, you would benefit from an XRS. Still, have questions? Get in touch with us, and we’ll get you the answers you need.

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