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Training Bioprocessors with Virtual Reality

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Human resources training creates fundamental challenges in bioprocessing. These challenges include restricting access to equipment and trainers, as well as global and regional barriers. In search of a solution, Cytiva experts turned to virtual reality.

“Virtual reality isn’t just for fun because it has scientific, business, and environmental benefits,” said Steve Wooten, Cytiva’s Virtual Reality Project Leader. “We’ve been working on a virtual reality training model for a while, but the pandemic has accelerated our plans.”

The virtual reality system allows operators to be trained without stopping commercial production or maintaining dedicated training equipment. Instead, Uten says, “Trainees can be taken to a virtual environment where they can learn at their own pace, anywhere in the world.”

This is the first completely immersive experience that Uten helped create, but he is not unfamiliar with this general field. As he says, “I have been an early adopter and champion of innovative training solutions for decades.” Today, he says, “Virtual reality has a wide range of applications that can address training and development needs. It’s just the next way to have sex. “

He points out that virtual environments can still be used to train bioprocessers in half the time of traditional approaches. He adds that virtual training leads to “dramatic reductions in performance errors” when personnel enter the bioprocessing line.

However, in developing a virtual reality training system, Uten and his colleagues faced two important concerns in the industry. First, many bioprocessors thought that training based on virtual reality would be more costly than the traditional approach, which Cytiva didn’t find. “In fact, virtual training reduces costs and provides a more flexible training schedule and learning environment,” says Wooten.

The second concern is called virtual reality fatigue. “Many people thought they would experience dizziness and disorientation during training,” says Uten. “However, because the system has been optimized for high-end specifications, users can spend a few hours or more without problems if needed.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated Cytiva’s interest in applying virtual reality to training bioprocessors, but it seems that this approach could always benefit the industry.

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