VR and AI Creating New Worlds of Interactive Training: An Interview with Mursion CEO Mark Atkinson and Techstination

Mursion CEO Mark Atkinson recently joined Techstination technology correspondent Fred Fishkin for an insightful online interview. In the 16-minute discussion with this digital destination for technology news, Atkinson walked Techstination readers through a comprehensive overview of Mursion and virtual reality as a powerful training tool. The conversation covered a range of topics, including how simulations work across industries and address an array of employee needs, as well as why this type of learning is the ideal way to practice and become proficient in the skills of the future.

Everything we do is about empathy.

 

VR’s Versatility Across Verticals

By way of introducing Mursion to Fishkin’s tech-minded audience, Atkinson explained how our virtual reality simulations can be applied to effective training programs in several industries in which we specialize: 

Education: Mursion has created inclusive virtual classrooms where teachers can practice pedagogies geared towards supporting and meeting the needs of all types of learners. Realistic student avatars represent diverse populations so educators feel prepared and empowered in today’s classrooms. 

Healthcare: Virtual simulations allow medical professionals to practice their bedside manner with patient avatars who embody the unique needs and concerns presented during high-stakes medical interactions. 

Corporate Learning: From customer service skills to leadership development, Mursion virtual reality simulations offer a streamlined solution to addressing inequities and deescalating conflict in the workplace in order to arrive at shared understandings and create successful end results. 

Mursion has built up thousands of simulations in each of these verticals and is adding more content every month, but we also have the ability to work with organizations to create content specific to the company’s goals. 

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to make you better … We’re getting you to experience that same level of stress that you’re going to experience when you have that conversation later in the day. So that you’re calmer when you encounter the real situation at work,” Atkinson said.

How Simulations Set Your Team Up for Success

Extensive research has shown that humans feel more comfortable opening up and taking risks in virtual reality learning simulations than in traditional role play settings with colleagues. They find psychological safety in these virtual environments that resemble their work settings but are removed enough to encourage them to really reveal themselves. And, as host Fishkin points out, people are becoming more familiar with interacting with computers thanks to Siri and Alexa. 

Atkinson explains the role of the avatar in Mursion’s simulations, which feature a combination of AI and trained improv performers (called “Simulation Specialists”) who skillfully drive these interactions. Because of this, avatars can take on very human characteristics, become emotional, and push buttons during simulations, offering the learner the perfect opportunity to practice, pause, and then continue conversations that have positive results.

“We’ve been machine learning the role of the human in the tens of thousands of simulations that we’ve done in each of our domains,” said Atkinson. “As we do so, the AI piece gets smarter and smarter and smarter and the human spends more time guiding the simulation and less time having to deliver it. It’s always a moving target where the AI begins and the human ends in our simulations.”

The Future of Learning

Atkinson predicts virtual reality is about to become ubiquitous in learning because the skills of the future demand active performance in a situational context and meaningful practice to achieve. Learners have the ability to demonstrate newfound skills in a realistic environment that encompasses the best blend of artificial intelligence for immersive experience and human guidance to provide real-time feedback.

“I think that what we do will be as commonplace as video or e-learning is today. It will just be part of the nature of learning … I think Mursion is the platform that’s going to figure that out for folks,” he said.

Listen to the conversation to learn more.