Safety Training in 3‑D Helps Employees Retain Information

WASHINGTON — The Defense Depart­ment has a new use for an exist­ing tech­nol­o­gy that could replace class­room learn­ing with the real­i­ty expe­ri­ence of 3‑D video, all with a touch of Hol­ly­wood flair.
To max­i­mize what employ­ees remem­ber, DOD offi­cials are using 3‑D immer­sion tech­nol­o­gy for Pen­ta­gon employ­ees’ safe­ty train­ing. A 3‑D video view­er — sim­i­lar to a child’s View-Mas­ter, which uses a series of 3‑D slides inside gog­gles — with a noise-reduc­ing head­set immers­es the view­er in the train­ing while block­ing dis­trac­tions such as ring­ing phones.

Dave Hodg­son, pres­i­dent of 3‑D Expe­ri­en­tial Train­ing Co., which man­u­fac­tured the prod­uct, said 3‑D cre­ates a more mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence than two-dimen­sion­al media, so the user remem­bers it longer, not­ing that a study found that the more sens­es a per­son engages in and expe­ri­ences, the deep­er the impact and the longer the mem­o­ry. His company’s sys­tem is based on that study, he added. 

Increas­ing mem­o­ry reten­tion of safe­ty rules and guide­lines reduces time lost at work relat­ed to work injuries, acci­dents and prop­er­ty dam­age, said Bri­an Hig­gins of Wash­ing­ton Head­quar­ters Ser­vices, who was instru­men­tal in intro­duc­ing the 3‑D pro­gram to the Pen­ta­gon. Par­tic­u­lar safe­ty con­cerns in the Pen­ta­gon are slips, trips and falls, and a lack of safe­ty aware­ness by employ­ees at work, he said. 

The four-video train­ing pro­gram is tai­lored to the Pen­ta­gon, and cov­ers emer­gency readi­ness and evac­u­a­tion, safe­ty haz­ards and basic office safe­ty. The videos were pro­duced at the Pen­ta­gon with Defense Depart­ment work­ers to put view­ers in a famil­iar set­ting to see how acci­dents might hap­pen at work. 

Com­mon Pen­ta­gon safe­ty devices are vis­i­ble in the videos, so peo­ple can expe­ri­ence them, Hig­gins said. View­ers will see the lumi­nes­cent strips along the Pen­ta­gon hall­way floors that lead to exits, slid­ing doors that close off cor­ri­dors to keep smoke from enter­ing oth­er parts of the build­ing, and delayed-entry doors for secu­ri­ty. All were added after Sept. 11, 2001. 

Using 3‑D tech­nol­o­gy to teach safe­ty aware­ness in the Pen­ta­gon is an attempt to “attach peo­ple per­son­al­ly and emo­tion­al­ly to the con­se­quences” asso­ci­at­ed with acci­dents, Hodg­son said. 

“It was a mat­ter of con­nect­ing them so they could add a mean­ing or val­ue to … the haz­ards in their envi­ron­ment,” he added. “Safe­ty is a dif­fi­cult top­ic. Gen­er­al­ly, it’s bor­ing and mun­dane infor­ma­tion. We’re always look­ing for new and inno­v­a­tive ways to con­vey the mes­sage, and get people’s atten­tion so they take it seriously.” 

The Pen­ta­gon sys­tem cost $200,000 for the 12-sta­tion hard­ware and video pro­duc­tion, Hodg­son said. 

The Defense Safe­ty Over­sight Coun­cil, cre­at­ed to reduce safe­ty mishaps, spon­sored the 3‑D immer­sion tech­nol­o­gy train­ing, and Defense offi­cials say it is ful­ly oper­a­tional at the Pen­ta­gon and at Annis­ton Army Depot in Alabama. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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