Posted on Oct. 20, 2022 by Niki Nelson

When shopping for televisions, speakers, smartphones, etc., consumers understand variations of these technologies exist. When shopping for a TV, you consider clarity, size, features and more. So why wouldn’t you do the same research when making an important purchase— training for your department?

Variations of law enforcement training tools exist, but not all provide the same results. Using screens and projectors gives an entirely different experience and result when compared to virtual reality (VR) goggles/headsets. VR is an improving and promising technology, but it is still not up to the task of training officers. Training is a task that requires high fidelity environments that immerse officers.

 

Avoiding Negative Training

Training scars – also called negative training – occurs when what you do in the classroom does not accurately match what is done in the real world. VR is lightweight and compact, plus the shiny new technology can sway agencies, but how is the training content?

Marksmanship is just one example of how dangerous negative training can occur with VR. When aiming a replica weapon with VR goggles on, the ballistic accuracy is not accurate enough to provide an experience that transfers to the field. The movement is not realistic, and one company even has trainees sitting down in order to use a CEW device. Officers are seldom seated when deploying a CEW weapon, so this can cause accuracy issues when trainees are moved into a real-life situation.

 

Quality & Depth of Training Content

VirTra’s scenarios are video-based, and for good reasons. Filmed with professional equipment and real actors, the goal is for the scenarios to be immersive and lifelike. This allows officers to develop empathy for on-screen characters, just as they would in reality. CGI has drastically improved over the years as we have seen in movies and video games, but VR training graphics tend to be cartoon-like and do not elicit empathetic response.

Low quality simulation can also feed into the previously discussed topic of negative training. When simulated humans are unrealistic, it is likely that trainees will not be able to pick up on subtle visual cues such as expressions and minor motions. It is also unlikely that officers will be able to experience stress in the same way as they would if they were interacting with a video-based character. If the environment is not realistic, recruits will not take it seriously.

VirTra’s Co-CEO Bob Ferris and Director of Training Lon Bartel have explored this topic. If you would like to learn more about the differences between VR and screen-based simulation training options, click here: All That Glitters is Not Gold with VR Headsets_VirTra_Whitepaper

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