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Walmart turns to VR and Oculus Go for associates' training

It will deploy 17,000 Go headsets across the country.

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Walmart is harnessing the power of virtual reality to train over a million associates across the country. The big-box retailer will deploy 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to almost all of its 5,000 stores in an effort to provide its employees the caliber of training its managers get at the Walmart Academy facilities. Walmart took VR training for a spin at those facilities using PC-tethered Oculus Rifts, but the standalone Go headsets make it so much easier to expand the program.

The retail giant will launch its VR training efforts in October, sending four headsets to every supercenter and two to every Neighborhood Market and discount store. Walmart US Academies senior director Andy Trainor explained that the method, which uses repeatable and scalable content, is effective because "[w]hen you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation." He added: "We've also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent -- even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts."

During its pilot test this summer, Walmart used Rift headsets to train associates on how to operate the company's high-tech Pickup Towers. It'll likely do the same for other associates, seeing as it's adding 500 more towers the across the country by the end of the year.

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