Anyone working within the VR industry can tell you that its application is associated with significant improvements in memory and learning, offering game changing results in safety performance, employee retention and overall productivity. With the path forged by game-makers, studies have now been conducted to back up the evidence, with findings even stronger than expected. 

What the science says 

Gaming and surgery don’t usually go hand in hand – except in respect to recent findings on virtual reality. 

UCLA have concluded a randomised controlled trial examining the capabilities of virtual reality for surgical students. The trial used gamification techniques in virtual reality (VR) to test the difference between using Osso VR software with a headset and hand motion controllers, compared with traditional surgical training. Divided into two groups, the medical students took part in learning a surgical technique for tibial shaft fracture intramedullary nailing and the newly learned technique then evaluated. 

The study backed up what game makers have known for years – gamification delivers better results. Gamification is exactly what it sounds like – the application of game design principles to improve engagement, learning and consequent outcomes. The study found that the group learning through VR scored 130% higher than students who trained using conventional methods, also completing the surgical technique faster and more accurately. 

So it’s not a stretch to say that VR techniques such as these will produce better and more proficient surgeons. Though it’s a small scale study, companies outside the medical field, who regularly use VR techniques and gamification-style training also see these same results replicated every day.

Next World for Harness Energy

Similarly, this study is inline with results seen by training provider, Harness Energy in Australia. Managing Director and Behavioural Scientist, Michael O’Reilly, saw a need to improve common compliance level safety training so founded Next World Enterprises to better meet this need. Harness use Next World’s VR technology developed specifically for industrial training by the Brisbane start up. 


Harness has seen very positive results from using VR modules for worksite inductions, confined space entry, hazard spotting, working at heights and other critical safety training topics. These modules aim to teach workers in medium-to-high risk industries such as construction, resources, utilities or oil and gas workers how to safely operate within high risk settings and within a practical environment, albeit a virtual one. 

“Virtual Reality opens up a huge range of possibilities for training,” said Michael O’Reilly. “And the gamification aspects incorporated into the VR training is motivating for participants. And the method we apply is delivering better results. We find trainees can’t wait to try it out.” 

confined space training scenario

Next World Enterprises is developing Off the Shelf VR assets to cater for safety training critical in the blue collar workspace, with many other modules following in the pipeline. Each of these modules is immersive technology which enhances the understanding and retention of information amongst front line workers – the ones at the pointy end of the risk profile.

Neuroscience in a nutshell

The science of memory is a continually evolving frontier but one thing that has been found is that our brains can be motivated to better remember something and store certain pieces of information away. Motivation can come in many different forms such as improving skills or managing real-life situations to help our survival. Information is also better remembered when we are actively engaged – immersed if you will. That is, not just passively reading, watching or listening, but actively participating in a discussion, simulating or doing the real thing and engaging through our senses.

Information comes through our senses, which also include movement and balance sense, telling our brains where our head and body are (vestibular) and body perception (proprioception) which is our understanding of where our body parts are in relation to the other, as well as an understanding of how much force might be required by specific body parts to perform a certain activity. The more senses that are involved in the process of learning, the more motivated our brains are to store that information.

So when it comes to virtual or augmented reality, such as the modules created by Next World, it creates a much greater sensory impact than traditional teaching methods. VR combines sight, touch and hearing with the vestibular and proprioception senses to create an incredibly immersive experience. Memories are further solidified as participants are able to actively interact with this virtual world. It all combines to create not only efficient training tools offering superior results, but a learning tool which students want to interact with.

“VR is an absolute game changer for safety and the way we onboard people.” said Michael O’Reilly. “Between cost savings, better productivity and safety, we’ve found VR the most effective way to train, onboard and educate. All i can say is goodbye powerpoint!”

Neuroscience aside, the best way of understanding how well virtual reality influences learning and information retention, is to try it out. If you’d like to see what VR could do for your business, click here to book a demo with Next World.